On Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania.
Seitz, Chief Judge, Sloviter and Van Dusen, Circuit Judges.
This court has been inundated in recent years with requests to review the amount of counsel fees awarded by the district courts under the increasing number of statutes providing for such awards. The function of appellate courts in this regard is to establish the general legal principles which can then be applied by the district courts. Thus, the Supreme Court has recently enunciated some of the relevant principles in its opinion in Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 103 S. Ct. 1933, 76 L. Ed. 2d 40 (1983). This court had earlier established the principles to guide the district courts and counsel in this circuit in Lindy Brothers Builders, Inc. v. American Radiator and Standard Sanitary Corp. (Lindy I), 487 F.2d 161 (3d Cir. 1973), and Lindy Brothers Builders, Inc. v. American Radiator and Standard Sanitary Corp. (Lindy II), 540 F.2d 102 (3d Cir. 1976) (in banc). The framework established by these decisions, supplemented by other opinions dealing with more discrete questions under specific statutes, see, e.g., Inmates of Allegheny County Jail v. Pierce, 716 F.2d 177 (3d Cir. 1983), and Hughes v. Repko, 578 F.2d 483 (3d Cir. 1978), should be sufficient to guide most fee determinations by the district courts. The court has declined, and will continue to decline, the flood of invitations to interject itself into the minutiae underlying such judgments.
Nonetheless, we retain the obligation to review all judgments appealed, and when it is evident that "the end product falls outside of a rough 'zone of reasonableness, ' or . . . . the explanation articulated is patently inadequate", see Hensley v. Eckerhart, 103 S. Ct. at 1951 n.11 (Brennan, J., concurring and dissenting), we are required to reverse. This is such a case.
The antitrust suit out of which this request for fees and costs arose is discussed in the opinion filed today in Danny Kresky Enterprises Corp. v. Magid, 716 F.2d 206 (3d Cir. 1983). Plaintiff was successful in receiving a jury verdict for damages in the amount of $5,500, trebled to $16,500, which we have today directed the district court to reinstate, and in being awarded a permanent injunction by the district court which we have today affirmed.*fn1
Plaintiff's application requested attorneys' fees in the amount of $106,992.27*fn2 representing approximately 677 hours. The hours for which plaintiff claimed compensation consisted of approximately 515 hours for Steven Kramer, principal trial counsel, and 162 hours for Michael Needle, an assistant. The court awarded fees in the amount of $28,249.25. The district court arrived at this figure by reducing the hours for which it compensated plaintiff, by reducing the rate requested, and by denying the requested augmentation.
We find the reduction in the number of hours and the rate requested to have been an abuse of discretion ...