UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
April 26, 1994
BENJAMIN MCCLELLAND, Plaintiff,
HYUNDAI MOTOR AMERICA, Defendant
The opinion of the court was delivered by: BY THE COURT; MARVIN KATZ
AND NOW, this 26th day of April, 1994, upon consideration of Plaintiff's Petition for Counsel Fees and Court Costs and the other submissions of the parties, it is hereby ORDERED that plaintiff's Petition is GRANTED and the plaintiff is awarded $ 14,573.45 in attorneys' fees and costs.
The plaintiff in this action brought suit against the defendant for violations of Pennsylvania's Automobile Lemon Law, 73 P.S. § 1951, et seq., the Magnuson-Moss Warranty - Federal Trade Commission Improvement Act, 15 U.S.C. § 2301 et seq., Pennsylvania's Uniform Commercial Code, 13 P.S. § 1101, et seq., and Pennsylvania's Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law, 73 P.S. § 201-1, et seq. Following a jury trial, a verdict was returned in favor of plaintiff on his Lemon Law claim and against the plaintiff on his breach of warranty claim. The jury awarded the plaintiff $ 15,914.00 in damages.
The Lemon Law provides:
Any purchaser of a new motor vehicle who suffers any loss due to nonconformity of such vehicle as a result of the manufacturer's failure to comply with this act may bring a civil action . . . and, in addition to other relief, shall be entitled to recover reasonable attorneys' fees and all court costs.
73 P.S. § 1958.
The starting point for determining reasonable attorneys' fees is to multiply the number of hours reasonable expended on the litigation by a reasonable hourly rate. Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 433, 76 L. Ed. 2d 40, 103 S. Ct. 1933 (1983).
The plaintiff submitted sufficiently accurate records of the amount of time spent and the manner in which it was spent for this court to assess attorneys' fees without the necessity of a hearing. Gambrill v. Alfa Romeo, Inc., 1989 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 12284, Civ. No. 87-7933, 1989 WL 121929 at *2 (E.D. Pa. Oct. 12, 1989) (citing In re Meade Land & Dev. Co., 527 F.2d 280, 283 (3d Cir. 1975)). The plaintiff's counsel spent 130.80 hours working on the case. Pet. Ex. B. The amount of time plaintiff's counsel spent on the case is not unreasonable considering the nature of the case (one and a half day jury trial, after a de novo appeal from an arbitration hearing).
After determining the number of hours reasonably expended, the court must also determine whether the requested hourly rate is reasonable. Rode v. Dellarciprete, 892 F.2d 1177, 1183 (3d Cir. 1990). The court in determining the proper rate must assess the experience and skill of the prevailing attorneys and compare their rates with the prevailing rates in the community for similar services by lawyers of reasonably comparable skill, experience and reputation. Id. The plaintiff's attorneys claim that their hourly fee is $ 150 an hour. Pet. Ex. D. Given counsels' skill, performance, qualifications, reputation and experience, an appropriate and reasonable rate of compensation in this case is $ 100.00 per hour. See Baker v. Chrysler Corp., 1993 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 727, Civ. No. 91-7092, 1993 WL 18100 (E.D. Pa. Jan. 25, 1993).
The court declines to grant a contingency multiplier. Gambrill, 1989 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 12284, 1989 WL 121929 at *4. The court also finds it inappropriate to reduce the attorneys' fees simply because the plaintiff was not successful on his additional and alternative breach of warranty claim. Because the jury's verdict provided the plaintiff with substantial relief, the plaintiff may recover fees for "all hours reasonable expended on the litigation." Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 435-37, 76 L. Ed. 2d 40, 103 S. Ct. 1933 (1983); West Virginia Univ. Hosp. v. Casey, 898 F.2d 357, 361 (3d Cir. 1990). Therefore, this court finds that appropriate, reasonable attorneys' fees in this case total $ 13,080.00.
The plaintiff also seeks court costs totaling $ 1,493.45. Pet. Ex. B. The court finds these costs reasonable and necessary expenses. Cf. Gambrill v. Alfa Romeo, Inc., 1989 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 12284, Civ. No. 87-7933, 1989 WL 121929 at *4 (all reasonable court costs awarded, but expert witness fees limited to $ 30 a day).
Therefore, the court will award $ 1,493.45 in court costs. See Baker, 1993 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 727, 1993 WL 18100.
BY THE COURT:
MARVIN KATZ, J.