simply make a percentage "across the board" adjustment to a fee petition to account for an overlap, See Prandini, supra at 51-52, Citing Hughes, supra at 487, we feel that the only cure for a failure to keep contemporaneous records is a percentage reduction. The results of this failure cannot be pinpointed with the same accuracy as the computation of overlap required to file two motions in similar cases or the time spent in pursuit of non-meritorious claims. The overlap and pursuit of non-meritorious claims tend to appear in readily identifiable segments of time, E.g., time spent on a brief in support of the non-meritorious claim. On the other hand, a failure to keep precise time records can only manifest itself in a general inflation of the fee sought.
Even if a 20% Reduction were not permitted, we would be compelled to find that plaintiff's attorney has not carried his burden of showing the reasonableness of more than 68 non-trial hours in this case. This was not a complicated case. Plaintiff's counsel was only required to file four motions during the case, three of which (motion to strike answer, motion to amend complaint and motion for a protective order) were not elaborate. Also, trial preparation required only that plaintiff take four brief depositions ranging in length from .5 hours to 2.5 hours. The limited nature of the case is further illustrated by the fact that counsel felt it necessary to file only one set of interrogatories consisting of 10 form interrogatories. None of these interrogatories refer specifically to the facts of this case or any of the named parties. Further, while the trial did stretch over a number of days, this was primarily a function of scheduling difficulties rather than the complexity of the case.
We conclude that the hours submitted by plaintiff are excessive and unreasonable in light of the limited scope of this case. This results in plaintiff's failure to carry his burden of proving the reasonableness of more than 68 hours spent on trial preparation.
Finally, it should be noted that since all of plaintiff's claims were interrelated, we see no reason, nor has defendant specified a reason, why the plaintiff's pursuit of state law claims or defendants' verdict on the malicious prosecution claim should result in any further adjustment to the trial or non-trial hours computed above. See Baughman, supra at 1214-1216; Hughes, supra at 487.
The second step in computing the lodestar is to determine a reasonable hourly rate for counsel. The cases have established that, in addition to such factors as quality, experience and position, the district court should also consider the nature of the activity performed and all the remaining circumstances present in the case. See Baughman, supra at 1219. In weighing these factors, we conclude that plaintiff's counsel is entitled to $ 50.00 per hour for non-trial time and $ 75.00 per hour for trial time.
In arriving at these figures, we have specifically considered several factors. First, the $ 50.00 per hour figure is based upon the routine nature of the trial preparation required in this case. As noted above, the case did not present any novel factual or legal issues. The case was decided upon the basis of evaluating plaintiff's credibility versus that of the defendants. The documents in this case, including interrogatories and motions, required little original drafting by counsel. Second, plaintiff's counsel has not provided the court with any evidence of particular experience in the civil rights area. Finally, plaintiff's counsel is primarily a trial lawyer. The quality and experience factors stressed in the hourly rate are reflected in counsel's work in the courtroom. This skill is particularly valuable in a case of this type which turns on credibility. Also, it is not unusual for an experienced trial lawyer to be paid a premium for time spent in court. Therefore, counsel merits a $ 25.00 per hour increase on his hourly rate for time spent in court.
On the basis of the figures stated above, we are able to arrive at a lodestar amount of $ 5,725.00. The next step in computing a reasonable fee is assessing whether the contingency and quality factors warrant an increase in the lodestar figure noted above. Neither of these factors merits an adjustment to the lodestar on the facts of this case.
First, "any addition to or subtraction from the lodestar to account for the quality of an attorney's work "is designed to take account for an unusual degree of skill, be it unusually poor or unusually good.' " Baughman, supra at 1218, Quoting Lindy Brothers Builders of Philadelphia v. American Radiator & Standard Sanitary Corp., 487 F.2d 161, 168 (3d Cir. 1973). (Lindy I ). Plaintiff's counsel conducted the case in a competent manner worthy of someone with his skill and experience. These factors were adequately compensated in considering a reasonable hourly rate and there was not unusual performance justifying an increase in this case. See Lindy Brothers Builders of Philadelphia v. American Radiator & Standard Sanitary Corp., 540 F.2d 102, 117 (3d Cir. 1976). (Lindy II ).
Second, the contingency factor does not justify an increase for several reasons. This case was neither factually nor legally complex. Lindy II, supra at 117. This lack of complexity manifested itself in a risk of a relatively small number of hours being expended without compensation. Id. Finally, where "the lodestar as originally calculated by the district court (is) a significant amount in comparison to the amount awarded plaintiff in damages," the court should be reluctant to increase the lodestar through the contingency factor. Baughman, supra at 1218. In this case, the lodestar constitutes a substantial percentage of the recovery received by plaintiff. Therefore, we conclude that no further adjustment to the lodestar is warranted.
Plaintiff has also requested unreimbursed costs of $ 523.40. Defendant has not opposed the grant of these costs and, therefore, they will be awarded to plaintiff's counsel.