United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
April 20, 2004.
CITY OF PHILADELPHIA, et al
The opinion of the court was delivered by: JACOB HART, Magistrate Judge
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
The court believes that it can now see the light at the end of the
tunnel that has been this case. The facts of this Title VII/ § 1983
case have been recited by the court at length in our previous opinions.
Therefore, we will refrain from "flagellating the deceased equine" any
further. We now consider counsel's final request for attorneys' fees and
costs, which consists of Plaintiff's Supplemental Fee Petition, which was
filed on April 2, 2004, and an earlier supplement attached to Plaintiff's
Memorandum in Reply to the Defendants' Response on the Issue of
Attorneys' Fees. (Document 106). Counsel requests a total of 110
additional hours at $200 per hour and $858.92 in additional costs.
We begin with the puzzling reduction of fees charged by the Plaintiff's
counsel. In his original fee petition, counsel declared that he charged
$300 per hour and expended 697.2 hours. See Declaration of
Puricelli, at ¶ 6, attached to Statement of Expended Costs (Docket #
84). In the Supplement, he states that he charges only $200 per hour for
out of court work. See Declaration of Puricelli, at ¶ 3.
Considering counsel's victory in this case, we would have expected an
increase in his hourly rate, rather than a decrease. Defense counsel has
requested the court to reduce the fees already awarded that were based on
Mr. Puricelli's earlier declaration.
In response, Plaintiffs counsel has explained that he intentionally
reduced his hourly rate in an effort to avoid a renewed battle over his hourly rate.
Considering the response to this Court's last opinion addressing
attorneys' fees, we can understand counsel's reluctance to reopen that
Pandora's Box. Based on counsel's representation in his most recent
letter, we are convinced that he has been forthright in his billing
submissions and will grant his requested hourly rate of $200.
Counsel for the City also objects to 3.3 hours for activities that are
usually performed by secretarial staff or a delivery service, including
the faxing of letters, or hand delivering filings to the Clerk of Court.
As explained in our original opinion addressing fees, such billings will
not be compensated. "Since the costs of clerical work, such as filing and
copying, are ordinarily considered to be part of an attorneys rate as
office overhead, they will not be compensated." Sheffer v. Experian
Information Solutions, Inc., 290 F. Supp.2d 538, 549 (E.D.
Pa. 2003) (citing Doe v. Ward, No. 98-1746, 2003 U.S. Dist. LEXIS
16651, at *31, 2003 WL 22187170, at *10 (W.D.Pa. Sept. 16, 2003) (finding
that clerical tasks are office overhead and therefore incorporated into
attorney's rate.) See also Missouri v. Jenkins, 491 U.S. 274,
285-88, 109 S.Ct. 2463, 105 L.Ed.2d 229 (1989) (holding that "purely
clerical or secretarial tasks should not be billed at a paralegal rate,
regardless of who performs them"); see also Halderman v. Pennhurst
State Sch. & Hosp., 49 F.3d 939, 942 (3d Cir. 1995) (holding that
it is not appropriate to allow "the wasteful use of highly skilled and
highly priced talent for matters easily delegable to non-professionals").
Finally, the City objects to $600 in costs charged by a private
investigator. The City opposes these costs because they were incurred
during the period covered by the initial fee petition. Moreover, the City
complains that three of the hours involve the interview of a person never identified at trial. As for the former argument, we adopt the
adage, "better late than never." We will not, however, allow costs for
the interviews of an individual unknown to the court in this case. We
will reduce the costs by $225.
An appropriate Order follows.
AND NOW, this 20th day of April, 2004, upon
consideration of the Plaintiff's Supplemental Fee Petition, the response,
thereto, and for the reasons stated in the accompanying Memorandum, IT IS
HEREBY ORDERED that the Plaintiff's counsel is awarded an additional
$21,340 in fees and $633.92 in costs.
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