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Drayton v. Avia Premier Care, LLC

United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Tampa Division

May 2, 2019

YESSENIA DRAYTON, Plaintiff,
v.
AVIA PREMIER CARE, LLC., Defendant.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          SEAN P. FLYNN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Before the Court is Yessenia Drayton's (“Plaintiff”) request for attorney's fees and costs included in her Motion for Default Judgment (Doc. 13). Upon consideration, it is recommended that Plaintiff's request be granted in part and denied in part.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff brought this action under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) against her employer, Avia Premier Care, LLC (“Defendant”), seeking unpaid minimum wages (Doc. 1). Defendant failed to file an answer or otherwise respond to the Complaint. After an entry of default by the Clerk, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Default Judgment seeking unpaid minimum wages, liquidated damages, and reasonable attorney's fees and costs (Doc. 13). On December 20, 2018, the District Judge granted in part Plaintiff's Motion for Default Judgment and directed the Clerk to enter judgment in favor of Plaintiff in the amount of $3, 829.02 (Doc. 16 at 4). The Court then retained jurisdiction to consider Plaintiff's request for attorney's fees and costs, which the Court referred to the undersigned for a Report and Recommendation. Id.

         DISCUSSION

         Plaintiff contends that she is entitled to an award of attorney's fees under both section 216(b) of the FLSA and section 448.08 of the Florida Statutes. A party that prevails on a FLSA claim is entitled to reasonable attorney's fees and costs. See 29 U.S.C. § 216(b) (stating that “[t]he court in such action shall . . . allow a reasonable attorney's fee . . . and costs of the action.”). Similarly, section 448.08 of the Florida Statutes states that “a prevailing party in an action for unpaid wages” may be awarded “the costs of the action and a reasonable attorney's fee.” Fla. Stat. § 448.08.

         As a preliminary matter, this case was brought before the Court under its federal question jurisdiction (Doc. 1 at 1). Only in a diversity case or a supplemental jurisdiction case is a federal court required to apply the substantive law of a forum state. See Erie R. Co. v. Tompkins, 304 U.S. 64, 78 (1938) (stating that “[e]xcept in matters governed by the Federal Constitution or by acts of Congress, the law to be applied in any case is the law of the state”). Statutes allowing the recovery of attorney's fees are substantive law. See McMahan v. Toto, 256 F.3d 1120, 1132 (11th Cir. 2001), amended on reh'g, 311 F.3d 1077 (11th Cir. 2002) (stating that “it is clear that statutes allowing for recovery of attorney's fees are substantive for Erie purposes”). Therefore, section 448.08 of the Florida Statutes is inapplicable in this case. Cf Zunde v. Intl. Paper Co., No. 3:98CV439-J-20B, 2000 WL 1763843, at *2 (M.D. Fla. July 20, 2000) (applying Florida law in granting an award of statutory fees under Florida Statute § 448.08 in a case brought under the diversity jurisdiction of the Court).

         Here, as discussed above, the Court granted default judgment in favor of Plaintiff in the total amount of $3, 829, 02. Therefore, Plaintiff is the prevailing party in this case and is entitled to an award of attorney's fees under section 216(b) of the FLSA. See Morillo-Cedron v. Dist. Dir. for the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Servs., 452 F.3d 1254, 1257 (11th Cir. 2006) (stating that “‘a prevailing party' is one who has been awarded some relief by the court”). Plaintiff's counsel seeks a total of $21, 225 in attorney's fees. This amount consists of $10, 612.50 of actual fees incurred during the litigation and the application of a 2.0 enhancement fee multiplier (Doc. 13, ¶¶ 13-18).

         I. Attorney's Fees

         After determining a prevailing party's entitlement to fees, the Court must then consider the reasonableness of the amount of fees and costs award. The calculation of attorney's fees under federal fee-shifting statutes is based on the “lodestar” method. Perdue v. Kenny A. ex rel. Winn, 559 U.S. 542, 546 (2010). Under this method, courts multiply the reasonable hourly rate by the reasonable hours expended in the litigation. See Blum v. Stenson, 465 U.S. 886, 888 (1984); Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 433-34 (1983). A final lodestar amount “embodies a presumptively reasonable fee.” Yellow Pages Photos, Inc. v. Ziplocal, LP, 846 F.3d 1159, 1164 (11th Cir. 2017).

         In this instance, Plaintiff seeks $10, 612.50 in attorney's fees for work performed by two attorneys and a paralegal, as described in the following table:

Timekeeper

Position

Rate

Time/hours

Fees

Jason Imler

Attorney

$350.00

28.75

$10, 062.5

Gary Printy

Attorney

$350.00

1

$350

Toni Harrold

Paralegal

$100.00

2

$200

Total:

31.75

$10, 612.5

         Upon review of Plaintiff's Motion for Default and the supporting evidence, the Court finds that the requested attorney's fees are unreasonable and recommends that attorney's fee be awarded in ...


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