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CLARKE v. WHITNEY

May 5, 1998

GEORGE H. CLARKE, Plaintiff,
v.
JANI B. WHITNEY and TRI-STAR PACKAGING, INC., Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: JOYNER

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

 JOYNER, J.

 May 5, 1998

 Presently before the Court is plaintiff, George H. Clarke's ("plaintiff" or "Clarke"), petition for attorneys' fees and costs and defendants', Jani B. Whitney ("Whitney") and Tri-Star Packaging, Inc.'s (Tri-Star) (collectively "defendants"), opposition thereto. For the following reasons, the motion will be granted in part and denied in part.

 BACKGROUND

 This case arose out of an employment relationship between plaintiff and defendants. Following the termination of plaintiff, he brought a three-count complaint against defendants alleging violations of the Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12101, et. seq., the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act ("PHRA"), 43 Pa. C.S.A. § 951, et. seq., and the Pennsylvania Wage Payment and Collection Law ("WPCL"), 43 Pa. C.S.A. § 260.1, et. seq. During the course of the proceedings, we dismissed the ADA and the PHRA claims against Defendant Whitney by Order dated December 12, 1995, see 907 F. Supp. 893 (E.D. Pa. 1995), and awarded summary judgment to Defendant Tri-Star on the ADA claim by Order dated July 25, 1996. See 934 F. Supp. 148 (E.D. Pa. 1996). On September 9, 1996, plaintiff filed a Second Amended Complaint pleading subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332. The Second Amended Complaint asserted a PHRA claim against Defendant Tri-Star in Count I and the WPCL claim against both defendants in Count II.

 As sanction for a discovery violation, we granted a default judgment against defendants on the Second Amended Complaint on December 16, 1996. See 169 F.R.D. 623 (E.D. Pa. 1996). On April 21, 1997, we held a hearing *fn1" to determine damages to be awarded for plaintiff's PHRA and WPCL claims. The Court issued Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law by Memorandum and Order dated August 22, 1997. See 975 F. Supp. 754 (E.D. Pa. 1997). In this Memorandum and Order, the Court entered an award against Tri-Star under the PHRA in the amount of $ 14,080. Id. The Court also entered an award against both defendants under the WPCL in the amount of $ 4,642.50. Id. The Court further indicated that plaintiff was entitled to recover reasonable attorneys' fees and interest. *fn2" Id.

 Plaintiff's present petition requests an award in the amount of $ 65,286.25 for attorneys' fees *fn3" and $ 3,765.69 for costs. Plaintiff further requests interest at 5.58 percent on Plaintiff's award of $ 24,484.84 (inclusive of back pay, non-economic and liquidated damages, and pre-judgment interest) to be calculated from August 22, 1997 until the judgment is paid.

 DISCUSSION

 I. FEES

 A. Standard for Determining Award of Attorneys' Fees

 In making a petition for attorneys' fees, the petitioner has the burden of showing that the fees and costs requested are reasonable by producing evidence that supports the hours and costs claimed. See Rode v. Dellarciprete, 892 F.2d 1177, 1183 (3d Cir. 1990); see also Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 433, 103 S. Ct. 1933, 76 L. Ed. 2d 40 (1983). The party requesting fees bears the burden of substantiating the hours expended on the litigation and the reasonableness of its requested hourly rate. Hensley, 461 U.S. at 433. The opposing party then has the burden of providing a sufficient basis to contest the reasonableness of the fees. Once an objection is made, the court has considerable discretion to adjust the fee award for any reason put forth by the opposing party. Rode, 892 F.2d at 1183.

 In determining the amount of attorneys' fees to award, the court's first task is to determine the lodestar. The lodestar is a computation of the reasonable hourly rate multiplied by the number of hours reasonably expended by the attorney. Hensley, 461 U.S. at 433. The lodestar produces a presumptively reasonable calculation of attorneys' fees. Washington v. Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, 89 F.3d 1031, 1035 (3d Cir. 1996).

 The opposing party may object to the lodestar calculation, calling into question either the reasonableness of the hourly rate requested or the reasonable hours expended. In objecting to the reasonable hours expended, the opposing party may request a reduction of the lodestar on the grounds that, inter alia, the hours expended on the litigation were excessive, redundant, or unnecessary. Hensley, 461 U.S. at 434. Further, the court can reduce the number of hours expended on "litigating claims on which the party did not succeed and that were 'distinct in all respects from' claims on which the party did succeed." Rode, 892 F.2d at 1183.

 After determining the lodestar, the court can make further adjustments "if the lodestar is not reasonable in light of the results obtained. This general reduction accounts for time spent litigating wholly or partially unsuccessful claims that are related to the litigation of the successful claims." Id. (citing Hensley, 461 U.S. at 434-37). An adjustment to the lodestar on the basis of the partial success of the parties should be "taken independently of the other adjustments and should be the first adjustment applied to the lodestar." Id.

 B. The Lodestar Calculation

 1. Reasonableness of Hourly Rate

 The parties in this case have stipulated *fn4" to ...


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