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CARPENTER TECH. CORP. v. ARMCO

October 16, 1992

Carpenter Technology Corp., Plaintiff,
v.
Armco, Inc. Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: DANIEL H. HUYETT, 3RD

MEMORANDUM & ORDER

 HUYETT, J.

 This action arises from the breach of a settlement agreement. In 1983, plaintiff Carpenter Technology Corp. entered into a settlement with defendant Armco, Inc. which resolved a patent validity suit filed by Carpenter against Armco in 1982. In 1990, Carpenter filed the present action alleging that Armco breached the settlement agreement ("the 1983 Agreement") by according a lower effective royalty rate on an Armco patent to a third party licensee.

 By Memorandum and Order of March 20, 1992, the Court granted plaintiff Carpenter Technology Corp.'s motion for summary judgment, denied defendant Armco, Inc.'s motion for summary judgment and entered judgment in favor of plaintiff Carpenter Technology Corp. in the amount of two million four hundred and ninety-six thousand and sixty dollars and ten cents ($ 2,496,060.10). In essence, the Court concluded that defendant had breached paragraph 6 of the 1983 Agreement. Further, the March 20, 1992 Memorandum and Order granted plaintiff reasonable attorneys' fees pursuant to paragraph 6 of the 1983 Agreement and ordered full briefing on the proper amount to award.

 Accordingly, plaintiff Carpenter Technology Corp. has moved for an award of fees in the amount of $ 367,501.50 and costs of $ 22,484.27. The parties have exchanged briefs and presented oral argument to the Court. For the reasons stated below, I shall award plaintiff the full amount of attorneys' fees requested, deny plaintiff's requests for costs and grant plaintiff leave to file a bill of costs pursuant to 28 U.S.C. ยง 1920.

 I. INTRODUCTION

 Defendant Armco concedes that paragraph 6 of the 1983 Agreement entitles plaintiff to reasonable attorneys' fees. *fn1" Defendant contends, however, that the amount of fees plaintiff seeks to recover are excessive and any award should be substantially reduced. Defendant advances several arguments in support of its objections.

 First, defendant asserts that although Carpenter did prevail on its royalty claim, it did not succeed in its other significant claims -- for negative royalties and prejudgment interest at ten percent (10%) -- and should therefore be barred from collecting the full amount of its fees. Second, defendant asserts that plaintiff's documentation of its fee charges is insufficient to support all of its claims. Third, defendant contends that plaintiff's fees are "top heavy," that is, that Dechert's high priced lawyers did work that less experienced, less expensive attorneys could do. Fourth, defendant claims plaintiff's fees are excessive and duplicative. Finally, defendant insists that even if Carpenter is entitled to and awarded attorneys' fees, the award should not include its costs. In defendant's view, the 1983 Settlement Agreement governing the award makes no mention of costs in addition to fees and should not include them.

 As documentation of its fees, plaintiff has presented monthly billing statements from November 1989 to April 1992, detailing the charges Carpenter paid to Dechert, Price & Rhoads. These statements are itemized to reflect the work performed by each attorney and the time spent on each matter, recorded by the quarter hour. The statements also reflect monthly costs.

 III. DISCUSSION

 In determining whether plaintiff's attorneys' fees are reasonable under Pennsylvania law, the Court must consider the character of services rendered, the character of the litigation, the time and trouble involved, the skill and experience called for, and the standing of the attorneys in the community. Dorsett v. Hughs, 353 Pa. Super. 129, 135, 509 A.2d 369, 371 (1986); Wrenfield Homeowners Assn. v. DeYoung, 410 Pa. Super. 621, 600 A.2d 960, 964 (1991). Further, as defendant correctly asserts, to render a proper decision on the amount of fees to be awarded, a court must evaluate the claimed fees with "scrutiny and close evaluation." Codex Corp. v. Milgo Electronic Corp., 717 F.2d 622, 632 (1st Cir. 1983), cert. denied, 466 U.S. 931, 80 L. Ed. 2d 191, 104 S. Ct. 1719 (1984).

 However, it is also true that this duty to scrutinize is less demanding when an award of counsel fees arises from a bargained-for contract clause rather than from a common fund or statute. Coleco Industries, Inc. v. Berman, 423 F. Supp. 275, 319 (E.D. Pa. 1976), aff'd in part, remanded in part, 567 F.2d 569 (3d Cir. 1977) cert. denied, 439 U.S. 830 (1978). In reviewing this case's files from start to finish, it is evident that the work produced by Carpenter's counsel was excellent in both its quality and its quantity. Hence, even if, as defendant urges, courts are correct in fearing that time alone as the criterion for awarding fees would reward inexperience and incompetence, Danks v. Government Employees Ins., Co., 307 Pa. Super. 421, 453 A.2d 655 (1982), this Court need not succumb to that fear in this case.

 Plaintiff bears the burden of showing that the hours and rates charged are reasonable. Rode v. Dellarciprete, 892 F.2d 1177, 1183 (3d Cir. 1990). The party opposing the fee request must demonstrate the necessity of reducing the fee award. Id. Defendant Armco argues for reduction on five principal grounds. Addressing each of defendants concerns in ...


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