Short et al v. Lawrenceville Borough Authority
ORDER: IT IS HEREBY ORDERED THAT the proposed attorneys' fee award of $8,800.00, or 1/3 of the total settlement, is APPROVED. The Clerk is directed to close the case. Signed by Honorable Matthew W. Brann on 8/2/2017. (jn)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
TIMOTHY SHORT, ANTHONY
MAGNOTTA, and BRADLEY
MEMORANDUM OPINION and ORDER
AUGUST 2, 2017
Before the Court for final approval is the proposed award of attorneys’ fees
contained within the settlement agreement of the above captioned case. Having
both reviewed the supplemental filing of Plaintiffs’ counsel and performed a
lodestar cross-check, I will approve this award of attorneys’ fees.
On November 9, 2016, Plaintiffs Timothy Short, Anthony Magnotta, and
Bradley Hackett (“Plaintiffs”) filed a Complaint against Defendant Lawrenceville
Borough Authority alleging violations of (1) the Fair Labor Standards Act
(“FLSA”) as codified at 29 U.S.C. § 207, (2) the Pennsylvania Minimum Wage
Law (“PMWL”) as codified at 43 P.S. § 333.104(c), and (3) the Pennsylvania
Wage Payment and Collection Law (“PWPCL”) as codified at 43 P.S. § 260.1 et
seq.1 Said violations relate to Defendant’s alleged failure to pay Plaintiffs
overtime compensation as required by federal and state law.2 Defendant filed an
Answer on January 9, 2017 denying these allegations.3 Following an initial case
management conference pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 16, this case
was assigned to this Court’s mandatory mediation program on March 13, 2017.4
On June 15, 2017, the parties reported that mediation had been successful and the
case had fully resolved.5 Plaintiffs filed an Unopposed Motion to Approve the
Settlement Agreement on July 11, 2017.6 By Memorandum and Order dated July
31, 2017, I granted Plaintiffs’ Motion, but directed them to file documentation
supporting their proposed award of attorneys’ fees within fourteen (14) days of the
date of the Order.7 Plaintiff filed said documentation on August 1, 2017.8
Pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Court is authorized to award
“a reasonable attorney’s fee to be paid by the defendant, and costs of the action,” in
ECF No. 1.
ECF No. 6.
ECF No. 13.
ECF No. 14.
ECF No. 16.
ECF No. 18.
ECF No. 19.
addition to any judgment awarded to the plaintiffs.9 When attorneys’ fees in an
FLSA action are awarded pursuant to a percentage-of-recovery method, the United
States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has suggested that it is then
“sensible” for district courts to “cross-check” that percentage-of-recovery
calculation with a lodestar calculation.10 This crosscheck is performed by dividing
the proposed fee award by the lodestar calculation, resulting in a lodestar
multiplier.”11 To perform this cross-check, I must therefore first determine the
proper lodestar figure. To reach this calculation, the “initial estimate of a
reasonable attorney’s fee is properly calculated by multiplying the number of hours
reasonably expended on litigation times a reasonable hourly rate.”12
A. Reasonableness of Hours Billed
First, when calculating the hours reasonably expended, a district court
“should review the time charged, decide whether the hours set out were reasonably
expended for each of the particular purposes described and then exclude those that
are ‘excessive, redundant, or otherwise unnecessary.’ ”13 Similarly, a court may
also exclude hours when the evidence presented “inadequately documents the
29 U.S.C. § 216(b).
In re Prudential Ins. America Sales Practice Litig. Agent Actions, 148 F.3d 283, 333 (3d Cir.
In re AT & T Corp. Sec. Litig., 455 F.3d 160, 164 (3d Cir. 2006).
Blum v. Stetson, 465 U.S. 886, 888 (1984).
Loughner v. Univ. of Pittsburgh, 260 F.3d 173, 178 (3d Cir. 2001).
hours claimed.”14 Having reviewed the submitted documentation, the Court finds
no reason to reduce the number of hours presented as expended by Kathryn L.
Simpson, Esquire of Mette, Evans, & Woodside.
B. Reasonableness of Hourly Rate
Second, I must also review the proposed hourly rates by “assess[ing] the
experience and skill of the prevailing party’s attorneys,” and determining whether
or not those fees are consistent with prevailing rates in the geographic area for
similar services.15 In making this determination, a fair starting point is the
attorney’s “usual billing rate.”16 Here, to justify the hourly rates she regularly
charges, Plaintiffs’ counsel submitted an Affidavit detailing her extensive
qualifications and experience. Considering the prevailing market rate, the
proffered documentation, and the experience of Plaintiffs’ counsel, the Court finds
that the hourly rates identified within the Affidavit are reasonable.
C. Lodestar Multiplier
Based on the reasonable number of hours and the reasonable rate billed, the
final lodestar calculation yields an award of $16,640.00 in attorneys’ fees and
$500.13 in costs.17 When the proposed attorneys’ fees award of $8,800.00 is then
Rode v. Dellarciprete, 892 F.2d 1177, 1182–83 (3d Cir. 1990).
Id. at 1183.
Pub. Interest Research Grp. of N.J., Inc. v. Windall, 51 F.3d 1179, 1185 (3d Cir. 1995).
ECF No. 19.
divided by the total lodestar calculation of $17,140.13, I find that a lodestar
multiplier of 0.51 results, justifying approval of this fee award.
AND NOW, upon consideration of the Plaintiffs’ Documentation in Support
of Proposed Award of Attorneys’ Fees and Costs (ECF No. 19), accompanying
Affidavit of Kathryn L. Simpson, Esquire (ECF No. 19-1), and the above
performed lodestar cross-check, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED THAT the
proposed attorneys’ fee award of $8,800.00, or 1/3 of the total settlement, is
The Clerk is directed to close the case.
BY THE COURT:
s/ Matthew W. Brann
Matthew W. Brann
United States District Judge
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