In summary, 185.75 hours have been claimed by Mr. Gilhool; 11.0 hours are disallowed; 174.75 hours are approved as compensable time.
Frank Laski, Esquire
Mr. Laski, along with Mr. Gilhool, represents plaintiff-intervenor PARC. Together with Mr. Gilhool, he submitted to this Court on October 27 an affidavit claiming 32.5 hours. At the October 25 hearing, counsel for the Commonwealth defendants did not question Mr. Laski as to any specific hours claimed. Since Mr. Laski's affidavit specifically documented his work in the matter, the Court will approve the 32.5 hours submitted by Mr. Laski.
Herbert Newberg, Esquire
Mr. Newberg acted as counsel for plaintiffs' attorneys Ferleger and Boyd in connection with attorneys' fees in this matter. Hours spent in preparation of a fee application are compensable. Prandini v. National Tea Co., 585 F.2d 47, 54 (3d Cir. 1978). Therefore, Mr. Newberg may recover fees for his hours to the extent that the Court allows. On October 15, 1981 and October 28, 1981, Mr. Newberg submitted affidavits claiming 12.95 hours of time. The Court finds that the 12.95 hours submitted by Mr. Newberg are compensable time.
David Ferleger, Esquire
David Ferleger, who requests $ 105 per hour, has practiced law for approximately nine years. During that time, he has become recognized nationally as an outstanding trial counsel in legal actions designed to improve the lives of the handicapped. He has represented the plaintiff class in this litigation since its inception in 1974, and has been trial counsel in other major litigation in this district, including cases such as Vecchione v. Wohlgemuth, 426 F. Supp. 1297 (E.D.Pa.1979). In Vecchione, a 1979 rate of $ 90 per hour was found reasonable for Mr. Ferleger. Vecchione v. Wohlgemuth, 481 F. Supp. 776 (E.D.Pa.1979). Counsel for the Commonwealth defendants has questioned the hourly rates submitted by some counsel but not that of Mr. Ferleger. This Court finds that the hourly rate of $ 105 per hour requested by Mr. Ferleger is most modest in light of his outstanding legal abilities and trial accomplishments. The Court finds the $ 25 per hour rate claimed by Mr. Ferleger for Douglas Schoppert, a third-year law student, is reasonable.
Penelope Boyd, Esquire
Penelope Boyd, who requests $ 75 per hour, has practiced law for only two years. During that time, however, she has accumulated a considerable amount of litigation experience. In 1979-80, she served as project coordinator for the Philadelphia Bar Association's Mental Disability Project. While a law student, she clerked with Mr. Ferleger. In effect, she has been involved in this litigation for four years. In light of her intensive experience with the difficulties of this case and her outstanding contribution in researching the applicable law, the Court finds a rate of $ 75 per hour appropriate for her work. This figure is well within the billing ranges for second-year associates established by local law firms performing similar work.
Thomas Gilhool, Esquire
Thomas Gilhool is an outstanding trial attorney whose legal experiences are wide and varied. He requests $ 150 per hour. In his seventeen years of practice, he has acquired expertise equivalent to that of a partner of similar years experience in the larger law firms in the Philadelphia area. His requested $ 150 per hour rate is most reasonable when compared to other outstanding trial counsel in private practice, particularly in light of his outstanding legal abilities and trial accomplishments.
Although Mr. Gilhool, as chief counsel for the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia (PILCOP), has no customary billing rate that this Court may use in determining his lodestar, the Court may look to the billing rates of other outstanding trial counsel in the Philadelphia area. The affidavits submitted by Mr. Gilhool and Mr. Laski contain a survey of the billing rates of law firms in Philadelphia. Counsel for the Commonwealth defendants did not question the accuracy of this survey, but did argue that these rates should not be used to measure the compensation of a Public Interest lawyer. The Court finds defendants' contentions unpersuasive. See, e.g., Vecchione v. Wohlgemuth, 481 F. Supp. 776 (E.D.Pa.1979); In re Three Mile Island Litigation, C.A. No. 79-0432 (fee petition filed in Middle District of Pennsylvania in August, 1980) and discussion infra at 659. In light of the information adduced at the hearing, this Court finds reasonable a rate of $ 150 per hour for Mr. Gilhool's time.
Frank Laski, Esquire
Mr. Laski, who requests $ 125 per hour, has practiced law for 14 years. Like Mr. Gilhool, with whom he works at PILCOP, Mr. Laski has compiled an impressive record in major litigation. According to the survey discussed in Attachment C of the Gilhool-Laski fees affidavit, attorneys with similar experience in private firms charge $ 125 per hour for their services. Mr. Laski's requested rate compares favorably with that awarded to or claimed by attorneys of similar experience. See, e.g., Vecchione v. Wohlgemuth, supra at 793 (E.D.Pa.1979); In re Three Mile Island Litigation, supra.
Herbert Newberg, Esquire
Mr. Newberg has practiced law for 19 years and is experienced in the field of attorneys' fees in class actions. He requests $ 175 per hour. He was awarded fees at the rate of $ 150 per hour in 1979 for his work in Vecchione, supra. While Mr. Newberg has competently represented Mr. Ferleger and Ms. Boyd in this fee matter, the attorneys' fees petitions did not present complex issues. The Court has determined, therefore, that a reasonable hourly rate for Mr. Newberg in this matter is $ 150. As the Third Circuit declared in Lindy I, a "reasonable rate of compensation differs for different activities." 487 F.2d at 167.
Public Interest Law Firms and Fees Recovery
The Commonwealth defendants have questioned the propriety of awarding fees to Mr. Gilhool and Mr. Laski as both men are salaried attorneys working for PILCOP, a public interest law firm. PILCOP is a non-profit organization which derives funds from the contributions of private persons, law firms, and charitable foundations, as well as the recovery of attorney fees in some of its cases. The Third Circuit has observed that
awards of attorneys' fees where otherwise authorized are not obviated by the fact that individual plaintiffs are not obligated to compensate their counsel. The presence of an attorney-client relationship suffices to entitle prevailing litigants to receive fee awards .... Of course, since the object of fee awards is not to provide a windfall to individual plaintiffs, fee awards must accrue to counsel.
Rodriguez v. Taylor, 569 F.2d 1231, 1245 (3d Cir. 1977), citing Torres v. Sachs, 538 F.2d 10, 13 (2d Cir. 1976), Brandenburger v. Thompson, 494 F.2d 885, 889 (9th Cir. 1974), Miller v. Amusement Enterprises, Inc., 426 F.2d 534, 538-39 (5th Cir. 1970); Hairston v. R&R Apartments, 510 F.2d 1090, 1093 (7th Cir. 1975). Rodriguez clearly establishes the principle that lawyers in non-profit public interest firms may recover fees on the same basis and in the same manner as attorneys in private practice. 569 F.2d at 1245-47.
Adjustment of the Lodestar
Attorneys Gilhool, Laski and Newberg have not asked that their lodestar fee amounts be increased. No adjustment has been requested for the work performed by law student Douglas Schoppert. As discussed above, Lindy I and Lindy II provide that a Court may increase or decrease the lodestar figure based on the quality of the legal work and the contingent nature of the case. In civil rights cases, fees may be adjusted upward where counsel's work has advanced an important substantive purpose of the civil rights acts. See Hughes v. Repko, 578 F.2d 483 (3d Cir. 1978); Vecchione v. Wohlgemuth, 481 F. Supp. 776, 778, 793, 796-98 (E.D.Pa.1979). However, the Court will not consider adjusting the lodestar upward where counsel has not requested it to do so and, of course, there is no basis to decrease it in this case.
Both Mr. Ferleger and Ms. Boyd have requested the Court to increase their lodestar figures. They note the novel and complex nature of the legal problems presented by the Commonwealth defendants' contempt and as well as the contingent nature of their participation in this case. Both Mr. Ferleger and Ms. Boyd are private practitioners who have specialized in litigation on behalf of the handicapped. In this case, they represented the retarded members of the plaintiff class. The compensation which they will receive in this litigation must come from fee awards. The contingent nature of their work in this matter merits an upward adjustment of the lodestar. As the Court has noted, the civil contempt proceeding involved complex legal issues. The quality of their work and their accomplishments in these contempt proceedings on behalf of the retarded residents of Pennhurst justifies an upward adjustment in their lodestars. Their legal work in the contempt proceedings not only benefitted the class which they represented, but also aided this Court in upholding the jurisdictional authority of a federal court to compel compliance by the Commonwealth defendants with its lawful orders.
As heretofore noted, Mr. Ferleger's hourly rate, when compared to his abilities and expertise as a trial counsel, is modest. His lodestar in connection with these contempt matters amounts to $ 6,100.50. The Court has determined that he is entitled to an adjustment upward by a factor of 3. Ms. Boyd's lodestar of $ 8,456.25 will be multiplied by a factor of 1.5.
The following chart presents the hours, billing rates, and multipliers approved by the Court for the plaintiffs' attorneys listed below. An order directing the Commonwealth defendants to pay these amounts to the listed plaintiffs' attorneys will be accordingly entered.
Attorney Hours Rate Lodestar Multi- Total
David Ferleger 58.1 $ 105/hr $ 6,100.50 3 $ 18,301.50
(for Douglas $ 19,107
Schoppert) 32.25 25/hr 806.25 0 806.25
Penelope Boyd 119.75 75/hr 8,981.25 1.5 13,471.88
Thomas Gilhool 174.75 150/hr 26,212.50 0 26,212.50
Frank Laski 32.5 125/hr 4,062.50 0 4,062.50
Herbert Newberg 12.95 150/hr 1,942.50 0 1,942.50
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