Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Official citation and/or docket number and footnotes (if any) for this case available with purchase.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

SKEHAN v. BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF BLOOMSBURG STATE CO

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT, MIDDLE DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA


November 28, 1980

Joseph T. SKEHAN, Plaintiff,
v.
BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF BLOOMSBURG STATE COLLEGE et al., Defendants

The opinion of the court was delivered by: MUIR

I. Introduction.

This case is before this court on remand from the Court of Appeals for a determination under 42 U.S.C. ยง 1988 of Plaintiff's entitlement to attorney's fees and, if he is entitled to any, the amount of those fees as a result of Plaintiff's modest success on the merits of this action. Skehan v. Board of Trustees of Bloomsburg State College, 590 F.2d 470 (3d Cir. 1978), cert. denied, 444 U.S. 832, 100 S. Ct. 61, 62 L. Ed. 2d 41 (1979). The Plaintiff seeks an award of $ 120,738.64 in fees and expenses. Also pending before the undersigned as a Master appointed by the Court of Appeals by order dated September 2, 1980, is Plaintiff's application for attorney's fees for appellate work. That application has been referred to U. S. Magistrate Raymond J. Durkin for preliminary work and will be the subject of future proceedings. A hearing on Plaintiff's application for fees and expenses relating to district court work was held on September 10, 12, and 15, 1980. This opinion will dispose of Plaintiff's claims for attorney's fees for district court proceedings through September 15, 1980 with the exception of fees for work relating to two motions unrelated to attorney's fees filed by Plaintiff in September 1980.

 II. Findings of Fact.

 1. On October 10, 1972, Plaintiff filed a complaint against the Defendants with claims that they had violated his constitutional rights by their failure to provide him with a hearing prior to his termination on October 17, 1970 and by their failure to provide him with procedures to which he was entitled when the Defendants made the decision not to renew Plaintiff's contract after the 1970-71 academic year.

 2. Plaintiff sought, inter alia, to be granted full back pay and reinstatement.

 3. Suit was brought originally in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. (Undisputed fact, hereinafter designated U).

 4. Defendants opposed this choice of venue.

 5. Harry Lore represented Plaintiff in the district courts in 1972 and 1973. (U)

 6. Mr. Lore seeks compensation for 120.5 hours of office time at $ 50.00 per hour and 16 hours of court time at $ 75.00 per hour. He also seeks $ 464.13 in costs and expenses. Multipliers on both are sought.

 7. Mr. Lore reviewed Plaintiff's papers, researched and prepared Plaintiff's complaint, represented Plaintiff at the hearing in this court on Plaintiff's motion for a preliminary injunction, and prepared a memorandum of law on venue, a memorandum of law on laches, a reply to Defendants' brief, proposed findings of fact, conclusions of law, another memorandum of law, and a motion to amend judgment and an accompanying brief.

 8. Mr. Lore graduated in 1958 from Temple Law School.

 9. Mr. Lore was admitted to the Bar of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania in 1958 and is a member of the Bar of the Supreme Court of the United States.

 10. At the time that he represented Plaintiff in this Court, Mr. Lore had practiced law for at least ten years, primarily as an attorney in civil rights cases.

 11. At the time he represented Plaintiff, Mr. Lore was engaged in the practice of law in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where attorneys of his training, experience and skill customarily charged for work of this type $ 75.00 per hour for court time and $ 50.00 per hour for office time which are both reasonable.

 12. Work done by Mr. Lore on the following dates for the following periods of time was devoted to issues raised in this case in addition to the due process claims for nonrenewal and termination and no attempt was made by Plaintiff to prove the amount of time that was reasonably supportive of the due process issues: October 7 through 9, 1972, 15 hours; November 17, 1972, 10 hours; November 22, 1972, 2 hours; March 17 through 22, 1973, 38 hours; April 26, 1973, 4 hours; May 12 through 14, 1973, 17 hours, for a total of 86 hours.

 13. Of the 120.5 hours of office time spent by Mr. Lore only 34.5 hours were proved to have contributed to Plaintiff's success in this case.

 14. Mr. Lore spent 16 hours of courtroom time at the preliminary injunction hearing, all of which contributed to Plaintiff's success in this case.

 15. Mr. Lore's lodestar-hours reasonably supportive of Plaintiff's claims multiplied by a reasonable hourly rate-is $ 1725.00 for office time, $ 1200.00 for court time for a total of $ 2925.00.

 16. It was reasonable for Mr. Lore to have incurred expenses of $ 464.13 and those expenses contributed to Plaintiff's success.

 17. Costs of $ 171.60 have already been awarded Mr. Lore, leaving $ 292.53 in expenses to which he is entitled.

 18. A preliminary injunction was sought and hearings were held on January 11 and 12, 1973.

 19. Defendants were the prevailing parties at the preliminary injunction stage of this case. (U)

 20. Plaintiff prevailed in this Court in 1973 on his claim that Defendants violated his due process rights by their failure to provide him a hearing prior to his termination. (U)

 21. This court awarded Plaintiff $ 1.00 in damages plus costs on May 9, 1973.

 22. Mr. Lore filed a two-page motion requesting attorney's fees on or about May 18, 1973.

 23. The motion was denied.

 24. Plaintiff through Mr. Lore raised in a highly tangential fashion at the preliminary injunction hearing in the district court in 1973 the issue of whether his constitutional rights had been violated by not being afforded the procedures of Article 5e of the Statement of Policy for Continuous Employment and Academic Freedom of Bloomsburg State College, which related not to termination but to non-renewal of his contract.

 25. The issue of non-renewal was not pertinent to the preliminary injunction hearing which was concerned with termination, not non-renewal.

 26. Mr. Lore did not argue the 5e issue to the Court at the preliminary injunction hearing or submit proposed conclusions of law, as required by the Court's practice order.

 27. The matter was submitted to the Court for a final determination on the basis of the record developed at the preliminary injunction hearing.

 28. When the case was submitted for final determination, Mr. Lore did not call the Court's attention to the 5e issue or in any manner make any argument with respect to it.

 29. Plaintiff appealed the decision of this Court of May 9, 1973 to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. (U)

 30. Plaintiff prevailed in the Court of Appeals in that the case was remanded to this court for findings as to whether Defendants had violated Plaintiff's First Amendment and due process rights in the course of their decision not to renew his contract, the 5e claim, and this court's ruling that Plaintiff's due process rights had been violated by Defendants' failure to provide him with a hearing prior to termination was upheld.

 31. The Court of Appeals also determined that Defendants were immune from liability to Plaintiff in damages because they were engaged in discretionary functions. (U)

 32. Plaintiff filed a petition for a writ of certiorari in 1974 on the issues of sovereign immunity, official immunity and attorney's fees. (U)

 33. The Supreme Court, which granted Plaintiff's petition for a writ of certiorari, vacated the judgment of the Court of Appeals and remanded for further consideration on the issues of official immunity and attorney's fees. (U)

 34. The Court of Appeals on remand from the Supreme Court ruled that Plaintiff was entitled to an award of damages if the individual defendants did not meet their burden of proof on official immunity and that Plaintiff was entitled to an award of attorney's fees if Defendants had litigated in bad faith. (U)

 35. Defendant Bloomsburg State College prevailed in the Court of Appeals in that the Court recognized sovereign immunity as a bar to any award of back pay against it.

 36. Robert B. Elion and Robert B. Wayne using the style of Elion-Wayne represented Plaintiff initially in proceedings in this court on remand from the Court of Appeals from July 29 to October 20, 1976. (U)

 37. Elion-Wayne seeks compensation for 84.85 hours at $ 35.00 per hour and costs and expenses of $ 54.21, plus multipliers.

 38. Mr. Elion and Mr. Wayne reviewed Plaintiff's case, analyzed the requirements for discovery, researched and prepared a motion to shorten the period of time allowed for production of documents, prepared a request for the production of documents and researched and prepared motions to compel and briefs in support thereof.

 39. Mr. Elion graduated from the University of Iowa Law School in 1971 and is a member of the Bar of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania and of the Bar of the State of Iowa.

 40. From 1971 to 1973, Mr. Elion served as an attorney in legal services projects in Minnesota and Oregon. From 1973 to the time he represented Plaintiff in 1976, Mr. Elion was the managing attorney and director of litigation for Susquehanna Legal Services in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania.

 41. Mr. Wayne graduated in 1973 from Suffolk University Law School and is a member of the Bar of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania and of the Bar of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

 42. Mr. Wayne was employed from 1973 to 1976 as an attorney for Susquehanna Legal Services in Bloomsburg and Sunbury, Pennsylvania.

 43. At the time that they represented Plaintiff before this Court in 1976, Mr. Elion and Mr. Wayne were engaged in the practice of law in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, where attorneys of their training, experience, and skill customarily charged $ 35.00 an hour for the kinds of services they rendered Plaintiff which is a reasonable rate.

 44. From May 22, 1980 through September 15, 1980, Mr. Elion devoted 5.6 hours to Plaintiff's application for fees.

 45. Mr. Elion's hourly rate for this work is $ 70.00 an hour which is a reasonable rate.

 46. After this case was remanded by the Third Circuit in June of 1976, Plaintiff filed three requests for the production of documents and one set of interrogatories.

 47. Each of the discovery requests identified in the preceding paragraph was accompanied by a motion to reduce time and a brief in support thereof. (U)

 48. This Court denied all of Plaintiff's motions to reduce time in connection with said discovery requests.

 49. Elion-Wayne devoted 10.75 hours to the first motion to reduce time.

 50. Although the motion was denied because the case was continued, it was reasonable for Elion-Wayne to have made the motion because otherwise Plaintiff could not have conducted any discovery. However, because the motion was denied, it was not reasonably supportive of Plaintiff's claims.

 51. On October 6, 1976, Elion-Wayne spent 1.15 hours on the second motion to reduce time. Unlike the earlier motion, Elion-Wayne had sufficient time to conduct discovery and there should have been no need to file this motion.

  52. As to each of the four discovery requests referred to above, Plaintiff filed a motion to compel discovery under Rule 37. (U)

 53. This Court denied all four of the Rule 37 motions filed by Plaintiff. (U)

 54. Elion-Wayne devoted 28.8 hours on the unsuccessful motions to compel discovery.

 55. Two of Plaintiff's discovery requests were initiated by Elion-Wayne.

 56. Almost all of the time spent by Elion-Wayne was in connection with this discovery.

 57. Since, for the reasons set forth below, discovery undertaken by Plaintiff's attorneys has not been shown to have been reasonably supportive of Plaintiff's claims, none of Elion-Wayne's work is compensable.

 58. After Plaintiff's case was remanded to this Court in 1976, Defendants filed a petition for writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court on the questions of whether the Court of Appeals had ruled correctly on the issues of sovereign immunity, official immunity and attorney's fees. (U)

 59. Defendants' petition for a writ of certiorari was denied by the Supreme Court on November 29, 1976. (U)

 60. Bruce J. Terris represented Plaintiff during proceedings in this court after the withdrawal of Robert B. Elion and Robert B. Wayne as counsel for Plaintiff on October 20, 1976. His associates who participated in this case were Eleanor M. Granger, Zona F. Hostetler, Natalie V. Black, Lonnie C. Von Renner, Edward C. Comer, Peter J. Eglick and Suellen T. Keiner.

 61. Mr. Terris and his associates together devoted 585.50 hours to work on Plaintiff's case during the proceedings in this court until August 15, 1977 as follows: Mr. Terris, 117.25 hours; Ms. Granger, 386.75 hours; Ms. Hostetler, 43.75 hours; Ms. Black, 8.75 hours; Mr. Von Renner, 4.25 hours; Mr. Comer, 3.50 hours; Ms. Keiner, .25 hour; and paralegals, 21 hours.

 62. Mr. Terris and his associates reviewed Plaintiff's case, evaluated the status of the discovery that was in process when they undertook the case, prepared interrogatories and requests for the production of documents, researched and prepared a response to Defendants' motion for leave to file an amended answer, researched and prepared a motion for leave to file amendment to the complaint and a brief and reply brief in support thereof, researched and prepared motions to compel and briefs and reply briefs in support thereof, researched and prepared a motion to take additional testimony on Plaintiff's First Amendment claim, researched and prepared a response to Defendants' motion to take additional testimony, researched and prepared a motion for judgment on Plaintiff's First Amendment claim and a brief and findings of fact and conclusions of law in support thereof, researched and prepared a motion for summary judgment on the nature of the interest created by Article 5e of the Statement of Policy for Continuous Employment and Academic Freedom of Bloomsburg State College and a brief in support thereof, prepared pretrial documents, prepared for and attended the pre-pre-trial conference between counsel, and pre-trial conferences and appeared as counsel for the Plaintiff at the hearings in April and June of 1977.

 63. Mr. Terris incurred $ 2357.50 in expenses up to August 15, 1977, during the course of his representation of Plaintiff in proceedings before this court in 1976 and 1977.

 64. $ 46.00 of Mr. Terris's expenses related to photocopying and mailing of unsuccessful motions.

 65. Mr. Terris graduated from Harvard Law School in 1957.

 66. Mr. Terris was admitted to the Bar of the District of Columbia in 1957 and to the Bar of the Supreme Court in 1960.

 67. Mr. Terris's legal experience has included seven years in the Office of the Solicitor General where he prepared approximately seventy briefs on the merits for cases in the Supreme Court, many of which were civil rights cases, and seven years in the private practice of law in the areas of civil and constitutional rights and environmental and consumer protection.

 68. Mr. Terris's associate, Suellen T. Keiner, graduated from Georgetown University Law School in 1971.

 69. Ms. Keiner was admitted to the Bar of the District of Columbia in 1972 and to the Bar of the United States Supreme Court in 1973.

 70. Before becoming associated with Mr. Terris in 1972, Ms. Keiner had served a judicial clerkship for one year and had had experience doing legal and factual research in civil rights cases. After she joined Mr. Terris she was the major attorney in two Title VII cases which had been filed prior to the time Ms. Keiner began work on Plaintiff's case in the Supreme Court.

 71. Eleanor M. Granger graduated from the George Washington University Law School in 1972 and was admitted to the Bar of the District of Columbia in 1973.

 72. During the time since 1975 in which she has been associated with Mr. Terris, Ms. Granger has worked as the major attorney on a civil rights case involving the due process rights of District of Columbia employees, a Title VII case and two employee grievance cases.

 73. Zona F. Hostetler graduated from Harvard Law School in 1960 and is a member of the Bar of the District of Columbia and of the Bar of the Supreme Court of the United States.

 74. Ms. Hostetler has had seventeen years of experience in the practice of law, primarily in the field of civil rights. She has handled cases for the American Civil Liberties Union and served as the major attorney on an age discrimination case and on a case involving the constitutionality of Department of State regulations forbidding marriages by employees to aliens.

 75. Natalie V. Black graduated from the University of California Law School at Berkeley in 1959. She is a member of the Bar of the State of California and of the Bar of the Supreme Court of the United States.

 76. Prior to becoming associated with Mr. Terris in 1973, Ms. Black served as an attorney at the Interstate Commerce Commission. Since she became associated with Mr. Terris, she has handled environmental litigation, Title VII litigation and employee grievance cases.

 77. Lonnie C. Von Renner graduated from Georgetown University Law School in 1974 and is a member of the Bar of the State of Michigan and the Bar of the District of Columbia.

 78. Before becoming associated with Mr. Terris in 1975, Mr. Von Renner served as a law clerk to the Honorable Murray M. Schwartz, United States District Judge for the District of Delaware. Since he became associated with Mr. Terris, Mr. Von Renner has handled civil rights litigation, employee grievances, and consumer cases before federal regulatory agencies.

 79. Edward C. Comer graduated from the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 1974 and is a member of the Bar of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania and the Bar of the District of Columbia.

 80. Before becoming associated with Mr. Terris in 1976, Mr. Comer served as an attorney at the Federal Energy Administration. Since he became associated with Mr. Terris, he has handled Title VII and employee grievance cases and consumer cases before federal regulatory agencies.

 81. Peter J. Eglick graduated from Georgetown University Law School in 1975 and is a member of the Bar of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.

 82. Mr. Eglick served in 1975 as law clerk to the Honorable Murray M. Schwartz, United States District Judge for the District of Delaware and in 1976 he worked as an attorney at the Federal Trade Commission.

 83. Since he became associated with Mr. Terris this year, Mr. Eglick has worked on one major civil rights case. 84. At the time that they represented Plaintiff before this Court in 1976 and 1977, Mr. Terris and his associates were engaged in the practice of law in Washington, D.C. where attorneys of the training, experience and skill of the attorneys named below customarily charged an hourly rate for the kinds of services they rendered Plaintiff set forth opposite their names: Mr. Terris $ 80.00 Ms. Hostetler $ 70.00 Ms. Black $ 60.00 Ms. Granger $ 50.00 Mr. Von Renner $ 50.00 Mr. Eglick $ 50.00 Mr. Comer $ 50.00 Ms. Keiner $ 50.00

19801128

© 1992-2004 VersusLaw Inc.



Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Official citation and/or docket number and footnotes (if any) for this case available with purchase.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.