The opinion of the court was delivered by: VANARTSDALEN
Judgment has been entered for injunctive relief for the class, and injunctive relief and monetary damages awarded to the class representative plaintiff in his individual capacity. Plaintiff's counsel has filed a motion for the award of counsel fees.
Plaintiff has submitted two affidavits in support of the motion for counsel fees. Defendants do not dispute the factual allegations of the affidavits. The affidavits appear to set forth the relevant information that must be taken into account in awarding counsel fees, under the guidelines of Lindy Bros. Bldrs., Inc. Philadelphia v. American Radiator and Standard Sanitary Corp., 487 F.2d 161 (3d Cir. 1973). The affidavits itemize the dates, hours, nature of work and services, and identification of personnel that performed attorney services on behalf of plaintiffs. Mr. Erba and his lawyer assistant, Sheryl Dicker, and a law student, Ricardo Cuevas, all of whom performed legal services for plaintiff in this litigation, are employees of Community Legal Services, Inc. (CLS), a publicly funded agency that provides civil legal services for certain qualified indigent persons. One of the affidavits sets forth Mr. Erba's annual salary of $17,800.00 and Sheryl Dicker's of $13,500.00. Ricardo Cuevas receives $150 per week of which $10 per week is paid by CLS and $140 is paid by the University of Pennsylvania under a "work-study" program.
Although plaintiff's counsel suggests in the brief that Brennan v. Ace Hardware Corp., 495 F.2d 368, 374 (8th Cir. 1974), and Hodgson v. First National Savings and Loan Association, 455 F.2d 818, 820 (5th Cir. 1972), indicate the propriety of an award of attorney's fees to the Department of Labor, I do not so interpret those cases, which merely make passing reference to the statutory language providing for attorney's fees. Neither counsel has cited any case directly on point as to whether CLS is entitled to receive attorney's fees. I conclude that an award of such fees to CLS is appropriate.
The Act utilizes mandatory language. 29 U.S.C. § 216(b) states: "The court . . . shall . . . allow a reasonable attorney's fee . . . ." Thus the court would appear to have no discretion to deny counsel fees. See Wright v. Carrigg, 275 F.2d 448 (4th Cir. 1960). Likewise, it is of no moment that the plaintiff himself may not owe or otherwise be obligated to pay counsel an attorney's fee, because the statute provides the attorney with a direct interest. In Maddrix v. Dize, 153 F.2d 274, 276 (4th Cir. 1946), the court stated:
There is no merit in the suggestion that the present appeal must fall because the right to the fee does not belong to the attorney but to the client who in this case did not join in the petition for the additional allowance. The Act endows the attorney with a direct interest in the fee . . . .
There is no logical reason to lessen defendant's burden simply because an indigent plaintiff obtains representation by an entity such as CLS. The extent of defendant's liability should not depend upon the ability of plaintiff to hire private counsel. Because CLS is publicly financed, reimbursement to it for the time and effort its attorneys and staff expended in vindicating the rights of plaintiff individually and the plaintiff class is all the more compelling. By awarding reasonable fees to CLS, its limited resources will be increased to expand its present services, or conversely, the same services may be rendered with less expenditure of public funds. In either event the public benefits, and at no greater expense to defendants than if plaintiffs had privately retained an attorney.
Because any award of attorney's fees will go to CLS, the amount to be awarded is more complicated than if an award was to be made to a privately-retained attorney. Should the award be strictly one of reimbursement for the salaries paid to the attorneys, or should fees be awarded on the same basis as if the attorneys were in private practice? Without any case law for guidance, I see no reason for applying a different standard in awarding attorney's fees to a quasi-public legal services program such as CLS.
The Lindy Bros. case, supra, sets forth the guidelines for a district court in determining allowable attorney's fees. Those guidelines are:
1. Computation of hours spent by the attorneys; how many, in what manner, and by whom.
2. Valuation of services rendered, including in class actions an attempt to identify, if feasible, the hours spent as those benefitting the individual ...