could be augmented, or decreased, upon consideration of the contingency nature of the action and the quality of the work performed. LINDY I, 487 F.2d at 168; LINDY II, 540 F.2d at 117-18.
Any increase or decrease based upon the quality of work is to reflect only exceptional services, be it unusually good or unusually poor. BLUM v. STENSON, 465 U.S. 886, , 52 U.S.L.W. 4377, 4380, 79 L. Ed. 2d 891, 104 S. Ct. 1541 (1984); URSIC, 719 F.2d at 674; LINDY II, 540 F.2d at 118. Since "quality" is a factor in determining the lodestar (i.e., a high hourly rate presumes high quality work), an attorney must demonstrate either service or a result of a superior nature.
BLUM, 52 U.S.L.W. at 4380; URSIC, 719 F.2d at 674. If the court decides to use a multiplier to augment the award, the reasons for the court's ruling must be explained.
BLUM, 52 U.S.L.W. at 4379-81; LINDY II, 540 F.2d at 118.
III. FACTUAL ANALYSIS: ATTORNEY FEES
A. Case History
To properly understand the issues presented by the petition for attorney fees, it is necessary to examine the underlying basis of this civil action. On March 23, 1979, Helen Horn was found murdered in her home. Following an investigation by the Pennsylvania State Police, Plaintiff, Gary W. Rank, was arrested and charged with her murder. Following a ten-day trial, a jury acquitted Plaintiff.
Approximately one year after the death of Mrs. Horn, Plaintiff filed this civil rights action in April 1980. Plaintiff alleged that four Pennsylvania State Police officers and their employer issued and executed search warrants knowing the alleged facts to be false; obtained an arrest warrant without having probable cause; prevented Plaintiff from seeing his counsel; fabricated, destroyed, or concealed evidence in the criminal murder trial; and assaulted and battered Plaintiff. Plaintiff further averred that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania had failed to exercise due care in selecting, training, and maintaining control of the state policemen. Additionally, Plaintiff claimed that Dauphin County and the warden of Dauphin County Jail failed to exercise due care in the selection, supervision, and control of county jail personnel.
Following an unopposed motion to dismiss, the court dismissed Defendants Dauphin County and the warden of Dauphin County Jail from the action on June 20, 1980. Thereafter, the individual State Police officers, the Pennsylvania Department of State Police, and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania moved for dismissal. The individual officers' motions were denied but the court granted the Commonwealth's and State Police Department's motions in a September 23, 1980, order.
Upon the conclusion of discovery, a jury trial commenced on October 13, 1982. The principal issues raised were whether the State Police officers knowingly had insufficient probable cause to obtain the arrest and search warrants and whether the officers had fabricated or planted certain pieces of evidence. Most of the testimony focused on whether the officers had planted Rank's fingerprints on a cellar windowpane and doorjamb at the crime scene and whether blue fibers allegedly found on a cellar window actually existed. At the close of Plaintiff's case, the court dismissed all pendent state claims and the excessive use of force, the malicious prosecution, and the right to counsel claims. Moreover, at the close of all evidence, the court entered a directed verdict in favor of Defendant Holtz.
On November 5, 1982, the jury returned a verdict on liability in favor of Plaintiff and against officers Balshy, Shipe, and VanNort. Following a trial on damages, the jury awarded $13,500.00 in compensatory damages and $5,000.00 in punitive damages against each Defendant for a total of $40,500.00 in compensatory damages and $15,000.00 in punitive damages. Thereafter, numerous post-trial motions were filed by the parties but were denied by the court on September 29, 1983. No decision on Plaintiff's motion for attorney fees and costs was made at that time pending the submission of further affidavits and briefs.
B. The Lodestar Calculation
In consideration of Plaintiff's request for attorney fees, we first address the question of the reasonable value of the lodestar. During the four years this case was in litigation, two attorneys acted on Plaintiff's behalf: Gilbert B. Abramson and Philip L. Blackman. n6 A summary of the time allegedly expended by each, in addition to their requested hourly rate, is as follows:
GILBERT B. ABRAMSON, ESQUIRE
1980 37.2 hours x $120/hour= $ 4,464.00
1981 23.4 hours x $120/hour= 2,808.00
1982 232.4 hours x $150/hour
(out of court)= 34,860.00
15-1/2 days x $1,300/day
(in court)= n7 20,150.00
1983 10.0 hours x $150/hour= 1,500.00
PHILIP L. BLACKMAN, ESQUIRE
1980 12.5 hours x $90/hour= $ 1,125.00
1981 97.2 hours x $100/hour= 9,720.00
1982 277.2 hours x $120/hour= 33,264.00
1983 77.3 hours x $120/hour= 9,276.00
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