Lipenga v. Kambalame
MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Judge George Jarrod Hazel on 6/8/2017. (aos, Deputy Clerk)
IN TilE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
fOR THE DISTRICT Of MARYLAND
Case No.: G.III-1-t-3980
.IANE N. KAMBALAi\lE,
of the Trarticking
~~ 15S I e/ sell .. thc Fair Labor Standards
9. 2016 and awardcd
Now pcnding beft)J'e thc Court is Plaintiffs
law causcs of action, Thc Court cntcrcd dc filllIt judgmcnt
~ 206(1)( I). thc
Md. Codc. Lab & Empl. ~~ 3-413.3.415.
Wagc and I lour Law ("MWIIL").
Plaintiff Faincss Lipcnga brought this action against Defendant
0 1.345.20 in compensatory
Motion It)r Attorncys'
No, 26. No hcaring is ncecssary,
Loc, R. 105,6 (D, Md, July I. 2(16).
For the following
Fees. in thc amount 01'$122.327.50.
Motion for Attorncys'
her initial complaint
failcd to answcr or othcrwisc
ECF No. I.
dcfend in the mattcr. Ms, Lipenga movcdftl!" an
entry of delilllit on January 28. 2016. which thc Clcrk cntcrcd on March 4. 2016. ECF No, 20:
ECF No. 21, The Court issucd its Mcmorandum
Opinion and Ordcr granting
lilr Delilllit Judgment. ECr- No. 23. on November 9. 2016. ECF No. 24. As PlaintilThad
requested "reasonable attorneys' ICes" in her Motion. ECF No. 23-1 at 38. but had not suhmitted
documentation as to the appropriate amount. the Court requested supplemental briefing on the
issue. See ECF No. 25.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Ms. Lipenga is entitled to attorneys' Ices under the the TVPRA. FLSA. and MWIIL. See
* 1595 ("An individual who is a victim of a violation of this ehapter may bring a civil
'let ion against the perpetrator ... and may recover damages and reasonable attorneys' tees"): 29
* 216(b): Bumle.\'
Short. 730 F.2d 136. 141 (4th Cir. 1984) ("The payment of
attorney's ICes 10 employees prevailing in FLSA cases is mandatory"): Md. Code. Lab. & Empl.
* 3-427(d)( I )(iii). To recover attorneys'
fees and eosts. a plaintilTmust be a "prevailing party:' a
threshold question for whieh the Court accords a generous liHinulation. See 111.'11.1'11.'.1'
461 U.S. 424. 433 (1983). This Court entered default judgment against Delendant
Kambalame in this matter: therefore. Ms. Lipenga is a "prevailing party" entitled to reasonable
The most uselhl starting point li1l"
establishing the proper amount of an award is the
"lodestar:' or ..the number of hours reasonably expended. multiplied by a reasonable hourly
rate:' III.'IISle.\'. 461 U.S. at433: see also RUlli Creek Coal Sales, /I1C. \'. Caper/ol1. 31 F.3d 169.
174 (4th Cir. 1994). The court shall adjust the number of hours to delete duplicative or unrelated
hours. and the number of hours must be reasonable and represent the product of "billing
RUlli Creek Coal Sales. 31 F.3d at 175 (citing lIellsle.\'. 461 U.S. at 437). In assessing
the overall reasonableness of the lodestar. the court may also consider the twelve !ilctors set liHth
in.lohllsoll \', Georgia / fig/HI'lIYErl'ress,
488 F,2d 714. 717-19
(5th Cir. 1974) ("'the
(I) The time and labor required: (2) The novelty and diflieulty oCthe
questions raised: (3) The skill requisite to perform the legal serviccs
properly: (4) The preclusion of employment by the allorney duc to
acceptance oCthc case: (5) Thc customary Cee: (6) Whether the fee is
Iixed or contingent: (7) Time limitations imposed by the client or the
(8) The amount involved and the results obtained: (9)
The experience. reputation. and ability oCthe allorneys: (10) The
undesirability oCthe case: (I I) The nature and length of the
professional rclationship between the allorney and the client: and (12)
Allorney"s Ice awards in similar cases,
See RUlli Creek Coal Sales. 31 F.3d at 175.
The party seeking an award oC allorney' s ICes "'bears the burden of establishing
to an award and documenting
U,S, at 437, Thc party challenging
and hourly rates,"
award "'bears the burden oC
with sul1icient detail and specifie reference to the plaintiffs
rccords to allow the court to evaluate those challenges
Nelsoll \', A&/I Molors,
over the time
Civil No. JKS 12-
WL 388991. at *3 (D. Md. Jan. 30. 2(13) (citing Rode \'. Del/arcil'rele. 892 F.2d
1177. 1183 (3d Cir. 1990», Here. Plaintiff submits her Motion and supporting
has not responded.
Fees. 10 allorneys
and 5 assisting
this casc over a two-and-a-haICyear
the Motion Cor
498.00 hours of work on
period. ECF No. 29 at 5, PlaintiCfhas
1 The Court received a letter from Ms. Kambalamc's counsel in Zimbabwe. Aurthuf Gurira. on December 9, 2016.
See ECF No. 28. HO\\'cvcr. because a member of the barofthis C01ll1 had not signed the doculllent. see Lol:. R.
101.1 and 102.1. the letter was returned to Mr. Gurira. It!. Defendant has not filed anything tlmher ill this actioll.
information breaking these hours down by individual. litigation phase. date and time. and
narrative description -
in accordance with Loc. R. 109.2 and Appendix B of the Local Rules.
Upon review of the billing records. attached at ECF No. 29-1 at 1-32. the Court tinds that the
hours expendcd were reasonable. Although the case was ultimately uncontested. the Complaint
was detailed and involved challenging issues of lact and law. The hours spent preparing and
litigating the I.ipenga case were all related to a common legal theory and sct of tilcts. and
Plaintiff ultimately achieved a high degree of success on her elaims against Defendant
Kambalame. See Hensley. 461 U.S. at435 (noting that "fwJhere a plaintilThas obtained excellent
results. [her] attorney should recover a fully compensatory fcc. Normally this will encompass all
hours reasonably expended on the litigation.").
PlaintitTalso requests reasonable rates lill"li1lu1een of the lilieen individuals who worked
on this matter. See Blum
Slenson. 465 U.S. 886. 890 n.l I (1984) (noting that fee appl ieant
should demonstrate that the requested rates are in line with those lawyers prevailing in the
community): Beyond ,\)'.1 .. Inc.
World A\'e. USA. LLe. No, PJM-08-nl.
20 II WL 3419565 at
*3 (D. Md. Aug. 11,2011) (noting that courts in this jurisdiction rely upon Appendix B for
determining reasonableness of lees). In accordance with Appendix B," which provides this
guidelines regarding hourly rates, based upon length of experience, Plaintiff
reasonably requests $425 lor Melissa Gorsline: $300 tilr James Egerton-Vernon and Anastasiya
Ugalc: $225 Illr Kelsey Bryan, Christopher Edelman. Lindsay Reimschussel. Jordan Von
Bokern, and IL Kristie Xian: $150 tor Cecilia Mullan and Samantha Tejada: and $95 for Tendai
~ Lawyers admitted to the bar for less than five (5) years: $150-225. Lawyers admitted to the bar for five (5) to eight
(8) years: S 165-300. Lawyers admitted to the bar for nine (9) to t(H1rtecn (14) years: 5225-350. Lawyers admitted 10
the bar for fifteen (15) to nineteen (19) years: $275-425.
L.awyers admitted to the bar for twenty (20) years or more:
$300-475. Paralegals and law clerks: $95-150. Loc. R. app. B (D. Md. July I. 2016).
Mukau . .Icnai Orina. Tom Polson. and Sarah Subacy:l Iloweycr. bccausc Partncr Cbarlcs Kotuby
had betwccn 12-14 years of cxperiencc during the litigation period. his reasonable rate is at most
$350 pursuant to Appcndix B(3)(c) ofthc Local Rules.
Additionally. although PlaintilTrcqucsts an hourly ratc of$425 for both Ms. Gorslinc and
Mr. Kotuby in hcr Memorandum. ECF No. 29 at 13-14. the Fcc Calculations attachcd at ECF
No. 29.1 at 27-32 apply an hourly ratc of $475 for Ms. Gorsline and Mr. Kotuby. Thercli)J'c.
applying thc proper rate 01'$425 lilr Ms. Gorslinc and $350 lilr Mr. Kotuby. the Court subtracts
$2537.00 and $4125.00 from the total fee calculation.
Finally. considcration of thc applicable Johllsoll factors counsels in l[lVorof fully
attorncys. Thc dcgrec of succcss obtained has bccn charactcrizcd as
"the most critical l~lCtor"in dctcrmining the rcasonableness of an award of attorncys' lecs. Ford
Rif!,idp~1' Rqjier.\. /Ilc .. 999 F. Supp. 647.651 (D. Md. 1998) (citing Farrar \'. HoMy.
103. I 14 (1992)). Hcrc. Ms. Lipcnga was succcssfiIi on all of her claims with thc exccption of
thc f[llsc imprisonment claim. See ECF No. 24 at 12-13. Shc thereforc achicyed a high leyel of
succcss. Additionally. Plaintiffs counsel took on a case that was both challenging and ultimately
guarantccd little. ifany. monctary compensation. Thcreforc. in light of ..thc difficulty of
qucstions raised" and "undcsirability of the case within thc Icgal community." RUIIl Creek Coal
Sales. 31 F.3d at 175. thc Court linds that Plaintiff's counsel is entitled to full compcnsation lilr
the work complctcd. Applying the rate modifications describcd supra. attorneys' fees are thus
awarded in the amount of $122.327.50 .
. Ms. Gorsline
is a partner at the law firm representing plaintiff: she was admitted 10 the bar in 1998. S'ct.' ECF No.
29-2 at 3. Mr. Kaillby. also a partner. \'las admitted 10 the bar in 2002. ECF No. 29-3 at 2. Senior associate James
Egerton-Vernon and special legal consultant Anastasiya Ugalc both have nine years ofc.\pcriencc practicing law.
5;//1.' ECF No. 29- ..; ECF No. 29-5. Associates
Kelsey Bryan. Christopher Edelman. Lindsay Rcimschussel. Jordan
Von Bokcrn. and H. Kristic Xian have all been admitted to the bar for lessthan five years. See ECF Nos. 2c)-6-29-9.
For the foregoing reasons. Plainti!rs Motion for Allorneys' Fees. ECF No. 26. is granted.
A separate Order follows.
t? . 2017
GEORGE J. HAZEL
United States District Judge
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