P.J., et al v. Education, et al
ORDER granting in part and denying in part 758 , 786 , and 793 Motions for Attorney Fees; denying 800 Motion for Order re taxing of costs; approving and adopting in part 803 Recommended Ruling.; approving and adopting 804 Recommended Ruling. Please see attached Ruling and Order for details. Signed by Judge Robert N. Chatigny on 9/30/2017. (Chenoweth, T.)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF CONNECTICUT
P.J., et al.,
State of Connecticut,
Case No. 2:91-cv-0180 (RNC)
RULING AND ORDER
Pending are plaintiffs’ motions relating to attorneys’ fees
and costs (ECF Nos. 758, 786, 793, 800). Judge Martinez has
issued recommended rulings (ECF Nos. 803, 804) and the parties
have filed objections. After fully considering the recommended
rulings and objections, I act on the recommended rulings as
Recommended Ruling On Plaintiffs’ Motions For Attorneys’ Fees and
Costs (ECF No. 803): approved and adopted except as set forth
Negotiating Pre-settlement Claim (11/29/00-03/20/02)
Plaintiffs have requested compensation for time counsel
expended before the settlement agreement was executed in March
2002. Judge Martinez recommends that no fees be awarded for any
of this work because the settlement agreement plainly entitled
plaintiffs to no more than $675,000.
There is no evidence the parties intended plaintiffs to
recover more than $675,000 for work done before November 28,
2000. Shaw Decl. (ECF No. 758-2) ¶ 6; Ex. C (ECF No. 690-4) at 2
(letter from David Shaw to defendants’ counsel detailing fees
incurred as of November 28, 2000). I also agree that plaintiffs
are not entitled to additional fees for time spent finalizing the
settlement in December 2000, March 2001 and May 2001. The need
to do this work was reasonably foreseeable to plaintiffs when
they agreed to the sum of $675,000.
However, I disagree that the terms of the settlement
agreement preclude plaintiffs from obtaining fees for time
reasonably billed as a result of defendants’ unilateral insertion
of Section X in the settlement agreement submitted to the
Legislature, which limited plaintiffs to “a one-time payment of
$675,000 in attorneys’ fees and costs.” RR (ECF No. 803) at 17.
The relevant time period is from June 8, 2001, when plaintiffs
learned of the submission to the Legislature, to March 21, 2002,
when the parties signed the agreement. Defendants’ unilateral
action put the plaintiffs in the position of having to either
accept a deal to which they had not agreed, or reopening
negotiations. I conclude that fees are recoverable for time
reasonably spent negotiating the side letter to Section X.
Accordingly, I find that time spent from June 8, 2001 until
March 28, 2002 is compensable as follows: 92.2 hours for Attorney
Shaw, and 19.9 hours for Attorney Laski.
Monitoring Implementation Of Settlement Agreement (8/15/0204/22/13)
Preparation for and Attendance at EAP meetings
I conclude that a further reduction from 210.6 hours to 182
hours is appropriate.
Motions for Substantial Noncompliance and
I agree with plaintiffs that their request for an
evidentiary hearing was reasonably necessary to protect the
rights of the class members. However, the total number of hours
for which fees are requested (609.5 for Attorney Shaw and 249.5
for Attorney Laski) are excessive even for a matter of this
importance to the class and must be further reduced in view of
the lack of success as follows: Attorney Shaw: 160 hours;
Attorney Laski: 80 hours.
Recommended Ruling On Plaintiffs’ Motion to Review Taxation of
Cost (ECF No. 804): approved and adopted in full.
Accordingly, plaintiffs’ motions for fees (ECF Nos. 758, 786
and 793) are granted in part and their motion that costs not be
taxed (ECF No. 800) is denied.
So ordered this 30th day of September 2017.
Robert N. Chatigny
United States District Judge
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