memorandum in support of its fee petition.
Thus, the time reasonably expended by plaintiff's counsel in this action totals 30.3 hours (12.2 hours by two partners 16.7 hours by one associate 1.4 hours by one paralegal).
Plaintiff's counsel submits that an hourly rate of $ 150 is reasonable for the two name partners, Craig Thor Kimmel and Robert M. Silverman, while a $ 125 hourly rate is reasonable for the associate, Catherine J. Cullen. To determine whether these rates are reasonable, the Court must compare these rates with the prevailing market rates in the community for similar services by lawyers of comparable skill, experience, and reputation. See Rode, 892 F.2d at 1183; Blum v. Stenson, 465 U.S. 886, 895-96 n.11, 79 L. Ed. 2d 891, 104 S. Ct. 1541 (1984). One hundred and fifty dollars appears to be the prevailing hourly rate for partners in this legal field, and the Court considers this rate reasonable for both partners. Since Ms. Cullen does not yet possess the experience of the partners, her time expended on this case will be approved at a hourly rate of $ 125. The Court considers $ 60 to be a reasonable hourly rate for the paralegals.
Accordingly, the lodestar should be $ 4,001.50 [(12.2 hours x $ 150/hour) (16.7 hours x $ 125/hour) (1.4 hours x $ 60/hour)].
Plaintiff further requests that this Court enhance the newly calculated lodestar by a multiplier "to encourage future cost [sic] free litigation to consumers and discourage manufacturers from stonewalling settlement negotiations and otherwise turning a deaf ear to consumers with warranty claims in this Commonwealth." Pl. Pet. at 2. Neither the opposing counsel's conduct during this litigation nor the plaintiff's counsel's unexceptional performance favor an upward adjustment. See Brady v. American Honda Motor Co. Inc., 1995 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 6229, C.A. No. 94-0768, 1995 WL 286726, at *3 (E.D. Pa. May 9, 1995) ("the quality of service rendered was not superior . . . and the success was not exceptional."). This case is a routine, "garden variety" breach of warranty claim in which no multiplier is appropriate.
Instead, this Court will further reduce the lodestar by twenty-five percent, or $ 1000.37, to reflect the plaintiff's limited success in this action. In Hensley, the Supreme Court explained that "the most critical factor" in adjusting the lodestar figure is the degree of the plaintiff's success. Hensley, 461 U.S. at 436. In this case, plaintiff only recovered a small percentage of the judgment she originally sought in her complaint. Therefore, this downward adjustment of the lodestar more accurately reflects a reasonable fee in light of plaintiff's degree of success.
As a final matter, plaintiff's counsel seeks $ 662.50 in costs, $ 455.00 of which represents expert fees. In response, defendant argues that none of the statutes involved in this fee petition allows for a recoupment of expert fee costs. In support of its argument, defendant relies on two Supreme Court cases, West Virginia University Hospital v. Casey, 499 U.S. 83, 86, 113 L. Ed. 2d 68, 111 S. Ct. 1138 (1991) and Crawford Fitting Co. v. J.T. Gibbons, Inc., 482 U.S. 437, 439, 96 L. Ed. 2d 385, 107 S. Ct. 2494 (1987), which both state that absent "explicit statutory authority to the contrary," fees for services rendered in civil rights litigation may not be shifted to the losing party as part of "a reasonable attorney's fee." Although these cases have been recently superseded by the Civil Rights Act of 1991,
defendant nevertheless applies their directive to the instant action.
The Court does agree that like the Pennsylvania Lemon Law, which allows for the recoupment of "all court costs," neither the Magnuson-Moss Act nor the Unfair Trade Practices Law explicitly provides for expert fees in connection with litigation. As stated previously, the Magnuson-Moss Act allows "a sum equal to the aggregate amount of costs and expenses determined by the court to have been reasonably incurred," while the Unfair Trade Practices Law provides for "additional relief as [the Court] deems necessary and proper." However, since this district has previously interpreted the "all court costs provision" of the Lemon Law to include expert witness fees,
this Court will also read both the Magnuson-Moss Act and the Unfair Trade Practices Law broadly to include expert fees for purposes of this fee petition. See Brady, 1995 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 6229, 1995 WL 286726 (E.D. Pa. May 9, 1995) (Huyett, J.) and Burns v. Chevrolet Motor Division, 1997 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 2964, C.A. No. 96-2697, 1997 WL 126731 (E.D. Pa. March 13, 1997) (McGlynn, J.). Plaintiff will receive the requested $ 662.50 in costs, representing reasonable expenses incurred during this litigation.
Accordingly, this Court will grant plaintiff's petition for fees and costs to the extent that plaintiff's counsel will receive a total award of $ 3,663.63 from defendant.
An appropriate order will follow.
AND NOW, this 1st day of August, 1997, upon consideration of Plaintiff's Petition for Counsel Fees and All Court Costs, Defendant's Response thereto, and Plaintiff's Supplemental Memorandum of Law, and in accordance with the accompanying Memorandum, it is hereby ORDERED that:
1. Plaintiff's Petition is GRANTED to the extent that defendant shall remit a check in favor of Kimmel & Silverman, P.C. in the amount of $ 3,663.63, representing reasonable attorneys' fees and costs; and
2. In all other respects, the Petition is DENIED.
BY THE COURT:
Joseph L. McGlynn, Jr., J.