United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania
September 29, 2005.
CHERYL SANDERS, CECILE WHITE, CHERYL ULRICH, MARTHA SURRATT, SARAH WILLIAMS, KELLY VICK, and CHRISTIANS FOR A BETTER COMMUNITY, INC. on their own behalf and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
THE UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT, and ITS SECRETARY, THE ALLEGHENY COUNTY HOUSING AUTHORITY AND ITS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, THE REDEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY OF ALLEGHENY COUNTY and ITS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, and the COUNTY OF ALLEGHENY, PENNSYLVANIA, Defendants.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: GUSTAVE DIAMOND, Senior District Judge
Presently before the court is a petition for an award of
attorneys' fees and expenses (Document No. 631) and a revised fee
petition (Document No. 646) filed by the plaintiff class seeking
attorneys' fees and costs incurred during the period from January
1, 1999, through February 17, 2005, for work undertaken to
implement and enforce the Consent Decree entered between the
parties on December 12, 1994. For the reasons set forth below, the petition will be granted
in part and denied in part. Specifically, after making
adjustments to plaintiffs' requested hourly rates and reducing
the specific number of hours claimed, the court will approve
attorneys' fees of $501,505.05 and costs of $2,776.47 for a total
award of $504,281.52 for the requested period. Pursuant to the
court's ruling on proportionality, HUD would be responsible for
65% of the fees and costs, $327,782.98, and ACHA would be
responsible for 35%, $176,498.54. However, in order to avoid a
windfall to plaintiffs, who will receive $194,000 from ACHA in a
settlement arrived at by those parties, the court will deduct
$17,501.46, the excess of the settlement amount and the 35%
liability amount, from HUD's portion, thus HUD will be
responsible for only $310,281.52 of the total award.
The parties are intimately familiar with the factual and
procedural background of this case and the court, in its opinion
dated March 14, 2001 (Document No. 511), exhaustively set forth
that background through that date. Accordingly, the facts and
procedural history of this case will not be recounted in detail
here other than briefly to place the pending request in context.
Plaintiffs commenced this class action*fn1 in 1988 against
the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development
("HUD"), the Allegheny County Housing Authority ("ACHA"), the
County of Allegheny ("the County"), and the Redevelopment
Authority of Allegheny County ("RAAC"), seeking redress for
alleged de jure racial segregation in public and other
federal assisted housing in Allegheny County and for the alleged
perpetuation of and failure to remediate that segregation in
violation of the United States Constitution and specific federal
statutes cited in the complaint.
After years of pretrial preparation, the parties drafted "a
settlement agreement designed to desegregate the ACHA's housing
programs and provide class members decent, affordable, and
racially integrated public housing opportunities." Sanders, et
al. v. United States Department of Housing and Urban
Redevelopment, et al., 872 F.Supp. 216, 218 (W.D.Pa. 1994). A
desegregation plan for Allegheny County developed by a committee
of experts served as a blueprint for a negotiated settlement
agreement, which the parties presented to the court for its
approval as a consent decree ("the Decree").
On December 12, 1994, this court granted a motion to approve
the Decree as a fair and adequate resolution of the litigation,
and the Decree was entered as an order of this court. Id. at
217. The Decree enjoined each defendant "to implement [it] and
take all actions necessary to fulfill its obligations." Id. at
On March 14, 2001, this court issued a comprehensive opinion granting in part and denying in part plaintiff's
counsel's motion for attorneys' fees incurred during the period
from January 1995 to December 1998. As modified by this court's
order dated April 23, 2001, (Document No. 517), a total interim
attorneys' fees and costs award of $551,334.42 was entered in
During the intervening years, disputes among the parties
regarding the Decree periodically arose, some of which required
court intervention. Finally, on December 23, 2004, after numerous
conferences and lengthy negotiations, the parties filed a joint
stipulation indicating that they had reached a settlement
agreement which would end the Decree. Class members were given
notice of the proposed settlement agreement and an opportunity to
be heard at a hearing which was held before the court on January
28, 2005. With no objections, this court entered an order dated
January 28, 2005, terminating the Decree. (Document No. 627).
On February 18, 2005, plaintiffs' filed the pending petition
for attorneys' fees and costs for the period from January 1,
1999, to February 17, 2005. Responses in opposition to the
petition were filed by both HUD (Document No. 637) and ACHA
(Document No. 638),*fn2 and plaintiffs filed a response to
HUD and ACHA's oppositions (Document No. 639) in which certain
adjustments were made to the fee request.
Subsequently, plaintiffs and ACHA entered into a settlement
agreement and release whereby ACHA agreed to pay $194,000 in
attorney's fees and costs. By order dated August 29, 2005,
plaintiffs' petition was withdrawn as to ACHA only. (Document No.
645). On September 6, 2005, plaintiffs filed a revised fee
petition in light of the settlement agreement with ACHA.
Plaintiffs' petition now is ripe for resolution.
At the outset, the court notes that the parties have been
instructed that the court considers its findings and conclusions
as set forth in its March 14, 2001, opinion and order, as
modified by its April 23, 2001, order, granting in part and
denying in part plaintiffs' petition for an interim award of
attorneys' fees, to be the settled law of the case. The parties
have been informed that, in the absence of any justification for
doing so, the Court will not revisit its legal conclusions from
that opinion and intends to apply those conclusions to
plaintiffs' pending petition for a final award of fees. The court
therefore will analyze the pending petition in light of the law
as it found it to be in its March 2001 opinion.
Class counsel's pending request seeks an award of fees and expenses for work undertaken to implement and enforce the Decree
from January 1, 1999 to February 17, 2005. The initial petition
requested a total fees award of $762,793.62, as well as expenses
in the amount of $2,776.47. This requested amount later was
modified in plaintiffs' response to HUD's partial opposition to
plaintiffs' petition and again in plaintiffs' revised fee
petition filed after plaintiffs reached a settlement agreement on
fees with ACHA. After these revisions, class counsel now seeks a
total fees award against HUD of $467,315.04 as well as expenses
HUD has raised numerous objections to plaintiffs' requested
fees award in regard to the reasonableness of both the hourly
rate requested as well as the total number of requested hours.
HUD's position is that it is only responsible for a total of
$145,982.22 in fees and that it is not responsible for any
Upon due consideration of plaintiffs' petitions and HUD's
objections, as well as the court's March 2001 opinion, the court
believes that certain adjustments are necessary both as to the
requested hourly rate and the number of hours, however, not to
the extent suggested by HUD. In the end, the court finds that
class counsel is entitled to a total of $504,281.52 in fees and
costs, a figure the court arrived at by applying the below
analysis guided by the standards set forth in its March 2001
Class counsel's petition is brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1988, which permits a court, in its discretion, to award
reasonable attorney's fees in any action or proceeding to enforce
a provision of the federal civil rights laws. By providing for
the recovery of reasonable attorneys' fees, § 1988 is designed
"to ensure effective access to the judicial process for persons
with civil rights claims and to encourage litigation to enforce
the provisions of the civil rights acts and constitutional civil
rights provisions." Hernandez v. Kalinowski, 146 F.3d 196, 199
(3d Cir. 1998).
In light of the Congressional purposes and policies underlying
§ 1988 and related fee-shifting statutes, prevailing parties
seeking to enforce civil rights are entitled to recover
attorneys' fees "unless special circumstances would render such
an award unjust." Staten v. Housing Authority of City of
Pittsburgh, 638 F.2d 599, 604 (3d Cir. 1980) (emphasis in
original; citations omitted). Thus, where the request is made by
a prevailing plaintiff, the district court's discretion in
assessing the propriety of the award "is quite narrow" and "[a]
strong showing of special circumstances is necessary to support a
denial of attorneys' fees." J&J Anderson, Inc. v. Town of Erie,
767 F.2d 1469, 1474 (10th Cir. 1985).
However, it likewise is important to remember that fee-shifting
statutes "were not designed as a form of economic relief to
improve the financial lot of attorneys nor were they intended to
replicate exactly the fee an attorney could earn through a
private fee arrangement with his client." Pennsylvania v. Delaware Valley Citizens Council for Clean Air,
478 U.S. 546, 565 (1986).
The starting point in determining a reasonable fee is to
multiply the reasonable hourly rate for the services rendered
times the number of hours reasonably expended on the services
in question. Washington v. Philadelphia County Court of Common
Pleas, 89 F.3d 1031, 1035 (3d Cir. 1996) (citing Hensley v.
Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 433 (1983)). A court may then consider
adjustments to the "lodestar" fee thus produced if the results
obtained are not reasonable. Rode v. Dellarciprete,
892 F.2d 1177, 1183 (3d Cir. 1990). There is, however, a strong
presumption that the resulting lodestar yields a reasonable fee.
Washington, 89 F.3d at 1035 (citing City of Burlington v.
Dague, 505 U.S. 557 (1992)).
Reasonable Hourly Rate
The first step in awarding attorneys' fees is to assess a
reasonable hourly rate. In the March 2001 opinion controlling the
pending fee request, the court set forth the standards governing
the determination of a reasonable hourly rate and, applying those
standards, the court found a reasonable hourly rate for
monitoring/enforcement services to be $160 and a reasonable
hourly rate for administrative/implementation services to be
$120. The court determined that those rates were "`adequate to
attract competent counsel but [would] not produce windfalls to
attorneys.'" Public Interest Group of N.J., Inc. v. Windall,
51 F.3d 1179, 1185 (3d Cir. 1995) (quoting Student Public Interest Research Group of New Jersey, Inc. v. AT&T Bell
Lab., 842 F.2d 1436, 1448 (3d Cir. 1988)).
In the pending petition, class counsel asks the court to use
the $160 and $120 figures as a base but to increase those rates
by 34.66%, which is the increase in the Consumer Price Index-All
Urban Consumers for legal services between January 1999 and
December 2004. With this increase, plaintiffs seek to be awarded
fees at an hourly rate of $215.45 for monitoring/enforcement
services and at an hourly rate of $161.59 for
administrative/implementation services without regard to the year
in which the services were rendered.
HUD opposes plaintiffs requested hourly rate on several
grounds. First, HUD contends that plaintiffs are limited by the
Equal Access to Justice Act ("EAJA") to a cap of $75 per hour
adjusted by the Consumer Price Index-ALL index, and, second, that
cost-of-living increases to that cap must be computed at
"historic rates" (on a year by year basis) so that plaintiffs are
not paid in 2004 dollars for work done as much as five or six
years previously. Accordingly, HUD proposes that plaintiffs be
compensated at an hourly rate of $133.78 for 1999 work, with
yearly increases topping out at an hourly rate of $154.01 for
work done in 2005.
HUD's first contention, that this case is governed by caps
imposed by the EAJA, is without merit. First, contrary to HUD's
assertions, the pending fee request, like plaintiffs' prior
request for interim fees, has been made pursuant to § 1988, not the EAJA. Although it is true that the court referenced the
EAJA in its March 2001 opinion, it did so not to analyze the fee
request under EAJA standards, but instead to serve as a benchmark
to compare the reasonableness of the hourly rate that the court
computed under the standards of § 1988.
Moreover, HUD has advanced no justification for this court to
revisit its formula for assessing a reasonable hourly rate as
enunciated in the March 2001 opinion, and, as the court has
admonished the parties, that opinion serves as the settled law of
the case. Accordingly, HUD's contention that the EAJA caps the
hourly rate to be applied under the pending petition is not well
However, the court does believe that there is merit to HUD's
contention that plaintiffs should not be paid at 2004 rates for
all hours expended from 1999-2005 as requested by class counsel.
To the contrary, to award class counsel fees at 2004 rates for
work done years earlier not only would result in a windfall in
violation of the statutory purposes underlying § 1988, but also
would reward them for needlessly complicating the fee fixing
process by delaying their application for fees and costs for
years after the work was done and they became entitled to such an
award. See also fn 3, infra.
If a defendant raises a sufficient question as to the
reasonable hourly rate, the court has discretion in determining a
reasonable rate for the services rendered. See Rode,
892 F.2d at 1183. Here, defendant has raised a sufficient question as to the reasonableness of the requested hourly rate, and,
therefore, the task again falls upon the court to ascertain an
hourly rate for work done between 1999 and 2004 which would be
adequate to attract competent counsel but would not result in a
windfall to class counsel.
The task before the court now aptly was outlined in the court's
prior March 2001 opinion and bears repeating here:
[I]t does not appear to the court that the purpose of
§ 1988 would be served by permitting class counsel to
maneuver themselves into prominent and time-consuming
roles in long-term and extensive implementation
processes and receive compensation therefor at hourly
rates which are designed to attract competent counsel
to assume the contingent risk of establishing
liability in the most prominent civil rights cases.
The court thus is required to consider all of the
unusual circumstances presented and determine an
hourly rate for each category of services rendered
which is both reasonable and takes into account these
countervailing considerations, a task which is less
than precise and arguably involves a form of
line-drawing. . . .
Opinion, March 14, 2001 at 53-54 (citation omitted).
With these concepts in mind, the court will proceed to
ascertain a reasonable hourly rate for the work performed during
the years 1999-2005 using the $160 and $120 hourly rates for
monitoring/enforcement work and administrative/implementation
work, respectively, as calculated in the March 2001 opinion as a
Utilizing the United States Department of Labor Bureau of Labor
Statistics Consumer Price Index tables for legal services, which plaintiffs' submitted as Exhibit 4 to their Appendix to
Petition for an Award of Attorney's Fees and Expenses (Document
632), the court has calculated the rate for cost-of-living
increases for each year from 1999 to 2004 by applying the
increase at the end of each ensuing year starting with December
30, 1998. The court's calculations follow:
December 30 December 30 % Gain
1998 $174.60 1999 $183.50 1.051
1999 $183.50 2000 $192.60 1.050
2000 $192.60 2001 $205.10 1.065
2001 $205.10 2002 $213.90 1.043
2002 $213.90 2003 $224.60 1.050
2003 $224.60 2004 $236.60 1.053
The court then calculated the reasonable hourly rate for each
year by increasing the base rates of $160 and $120 by the % cost
of living gain for each year as follows:
1999 $160 × 1.051 $168.16
2000 $168.16 × 1.050 $176.57
2001 $176.57 × 1.065 $188.04
2002 $188.04 × 1.043 $196.13
2003 $196.13 × 1.050 $205.94
2004 $205.94 × 1.053 $216.85
1999 $126.12 × 1.051 $126.12
2000 $132.43 × 1.050 $132.43
2001 $141.03 × 1.065 $141.03
2002 $147.10 × 1.043 $147.10
2003 $154.45 × 1.050 $154.45
2004 $162.64 × 1.053 $162.64
Utilizing the above as reasonable hourly rates, the court
established plaintiffs' fee for a particular year by multiplying
the total hours reasonably expended during that year by the above
rate for that year and adding the totals.
The court believes that the above rates satisfy the purposes of § 1988 by providing rates that will attract competent
counsel while not providing them an unfair windfall at taxpayers'
expense. The court is satisfied that this is a fairer method of
arriving at an appropriate hourly rate than plaintiffs' counsel's
request that they be compensated for 1999 work at 2004 rates.
For example, had plaintiffs' sought fees at the end of 1999 for
the hours expended during that calendar year, their hourly rates
under the court's formula for that year would have been $168.16
and $126.12 respectively. However, plaintiffs chose to wait
until 2005 to seek payment for work done in 1999 and sought
payment for that work in 2004 dollars, i.e., at the rate of
$215.45 per hour for enforcement/monitoring work. If the court
were to adopt plaintiffs' position, they would obtain an increase
of $47.29 per hour in legal fees for 1999by the simple expedient
of delaying their application therefor. That in no way can be
justified or deemed reasonable.
Moreover, plaintiffs' counsel concede at page 11 of their
response brief that they are not seeking and that they are not
entitled to interest. However, the effect of paying them in 2004
dollars for services provided in earlier years would amount to
the same thing.*fn3 The court believes that plaintiffs
should not profit from their six year delay in filing their fee request.
The formula utilized by the court ensures that while they will
receive a reasonable hourly rate for their services, they will
not receive a windfall.
Number of Hours Reasonably Expended
The second component of a reasonable attorneys' fee is "the
number of hours reasonably expended on the litigation."
Hensley, 461 U.S. at 433. The standards governing an analysis
of what constitutes reasonable are set forth in detail in the
court's prior opinion, and those standards guide the court's
analysis of the pending fee petition. Opinion, March 14, 2001 at
Briefly, billing judgment, as used in the private sector, is an
important component in assessing time under a fee-shifting
statute. Hensley, 461 U.S. at 434. "Hours that are not properly
billed to one's client also are not properly billed to one's
adversary pursuant to statutory authority." Id. (emphasis in
original; citation omitted). It follows that the number of hours
claimed can be reduced for a variety of reasons, including
inadequate documentation, the reasonableness of the time expended
on a particular task, and duplication of effort. See Ursic v.
Bethlehem Mines, 729 F.2d 670, 677 (3d Cir. 1983); Rode,
892 F.2d at 1183 ("Hours are not reasonably expended if they are excessive, redundant, or otherwise unnecessary.")
(citing Hensley, 461 U.S. at 433).
The court has reviewed the various time records submitted and
some of the HUD's objections appear to be well taken. In light of
these facts and the well-established principle that the court is
to "greet a claim that several lawyers were required to perform a
single set of tasks with healthy skepticism," Lipsett v.
Blanco, 975 F.2d 934, 938 (1st Cir. 1992), the court will review
all entries carefully in order to eliminate unnecessary
overstaffing, duplication and excessiveness. With regard to the
number of hours claimed for such activities, the court will
follow the approach it adopted in its March 2001 opinion and
employ "the arbitrary but essentially fair approach of simply
deducting a small percentage of the total hours to eliminate
duplication of services." Northcross v. Board of Education of
Memphis City Schools, 611 F.2d 624, 637 (6th Cir. 1979)
cert. denied 447 U.S. 911 (1980).
A review of the reductions made to each attorney's time sheets
under these principles is set forth below. The specific details
of the court's comprehensive calculations for each of the six
years under review is set forth at the end of this opinion.
A. Donald Driscoll
Donald Driscoll is lead counsel for plaintiffs in this case. He
has represented the plaintiff class throughout the litigation and
has practiced law since 1975. Attorney Driscoll seeks fees for 1053.6 hours of monitoring/enforcement
work and 2592.6 hours of administrative/implementation work from
HUD argues that attorney Driscoll is entitled to fees for only
1424.93 hours and does not attempt to break those down between
monitoring/enforcement and administrative/implementation work.
HUD arrived at its figure by making the following deductions to
the number of hours requested: (1) work on monitoring/enforcement
activities not directly involving HUD or the County; (2) 20%
reduction for excessiveness and duplication; (3) 20% reduction
for Task Force work between 2001 and April 2003; and, (4) full
deduction for all Task Force work after May 1, 2003.*fn4
Upon review, the court believes that many of these deductions are
First, the court does not believe that full deductions of all
hours relating to activities not directly involving HUD or the
County are warranted. As noted in our prior opinion, and as the
Decree makes clear, "HUD is primarily responsible for the
violations of law which led to the litigation and the Decree" and
"the Decree and other law provide HUD with substantial oversight
responsibilities over the other defendants and the greatest
degree of responsibility in implementing the Decree." Opinion, March 14, 2001 at 84. Thus, merely because an action did
not directly involve HUD does not negate HUD's overall
responsibility for enforcement of the Decree.
Likewise, the court finds no basis to deduct all hours spent on
Task Force activities after May 1, 2003. HUD contends that such a
deduction is warranted because after the April 2003 adoption of
the final plan, no further work on the Task Force was necessary.
However, as plaintiffs point out in their response, Task Force
responsibilities and activities continued after that April 2003,
and, in fact, numerous Task Force meetings took place after that
date in which both counsel for plaintiffs and defendants
participated. Accordingly, HUD's contention that all time spent
on such activities after April 2003 should be deducted is without
However, the court does believe that some reduction in time is
necessary to all of attorney Driscoll's hours based on
excessiveness and duplication of services between counsel. As the
court noted in its March 2001 opinion, a reasonable amount of
consultation among co-counsel regarding the multifaceted
components of the Decree certainly had to have been expected
under the settlement agreement which HUD presented to the court.
However, the court does believe that the overall hours submitted
by counsel is to some extent duplicative and overall is
excessive. Thus the court will reduce all requested hours by 20%
in order to account for excessiveness and duplication of
services. Otherwise, the remaining hours submitted by attorney Driscoll
were useful and necessary to secure the relief flowing from the
court's order, and the court therefore will approve those hours
subject to the percentage reductions noted above. Accordingly,
the court will award for attorney Driscoll's services 842.88
monitoring/enforcement hours and 2074.08
administrative/implementation hours at the year-by-year hourly
rates set forth above.*fn5
B. Thomas Henderson
Thomas Henderson is an attorney with the Lawyers' Committee for
Civil Rights Under Law and has practiced law since 1977. Attorney
Henderson seeks fees for 16.71 hours of primarily supervisory
work that he performed on this case between 1999 and 2004. HUD
argues that attorney Henderson is entitled to, at most, fees for 7.46 hours of work in 1999, as all other hours
were spent on activities not actively involving HUD or the
For the same reasons outlined above for attorney Driscoll, the
court again will reduce the number of hours requested by 20% to
account for duplication, excessiveness and overstaffing.
Accordingly, the court will award fees for 13.41 hours for
attorney Henderson's work.
C. Julie Nepvue
Julie Nepvue was a Staff Attorney at the Lawyers' Committee for
Civil Rights Under Law until November 2002 and has practiced law
since 1991. Attorney Nepvue seeks fees for 52.55 hours of
monitoring/enforcement work and 223.84 hours of
administrative/implementation work performed between 1999 and
2002. HUD argues that Nepvue's request should be reduced by 20%
for duplication of services and for work on activities not
directly involving HUD or the County.
Under the same rationale as applicable to attorney Driscoll's
request, the court will reduce the requested hours by 20% and
will award fees for 42.04 hours of monitoring/enforcement work
and 179.07 hours of administrative/implementation work.
D. Matthew Clash-Drexler
Matthew Clash-Drexler was a Staff Attorney at the Lawyers'
Committee of Civil Rights Under Law from November 2001 until
April 2002 and has practiced law since 2000. Attorney
Clash-Drexler requests fees for 67.98 hours of work done in this case in 2001
(25.41 hours) and 2002 (42.57 hours). HUD opposes any fees for
work done by attorney Clash-Drexler because it was all for work
on activities not directly involving HUD or the County.
Applying the overall 20% reduction for excessiveness and
duplication, the court will award fees for 54.39 hours of work
performed by attorney Clash-Drexler.
E. Jonathon Hooks
Jonathon Hooks is a Staff Attorney with the Lawyers' Committee
for Civil Rights Under Law who has practiced law since 1999.
Attorney Hooks requests fees for 34 hours of work done in 2003 (5
hours) and 2004 (29 hours). HUD opposes any fees for work
performed by attorney Hooks because it involved work on
activities in which HUD or the County were not directly involved.
Applying the overall 20% reduction for excessiveness and
duplication, the court will award fees for 27.2 hours of work
performed by attorney Hooks.
Class counsel's revised fee petition seeks to recover $1,804.71
in expenses from HUD, which constitutes 65% of the requested
$2,776.47 as stated in plaintiffs' initial petition. A breakdown
of the requested expenses is included as Exhibit B-F to Tab 5 of
the appendix to the initial petition.
HUD contends that plaintiffs are not entitled to any expenses,
alleging that there is no evidence that plaintiffs' expenses for Lawyers' Committee work were "reasonably necessary
for its representation of plaintiffs in this case."
The court has reviewed the requested expenses in light of the
law as set forth in the March 2001 opinion and finds no basis to
reject plaintiffs' requested expenses. As stated in that opinion:
The plaintiff class has a right to use lawyers which
possess the requisite skill, expertise and resources
necessary to protect their interests competently. The
Lawyers Committee has intimate familiarity with the
context giving rise to Decree, its provisions and the
specialized areas of law which affect its
implementation. Under such circumstances the court is
obligated to award the reasonable expenses which
would be paid by regular fee-paying clients for the
use of its services.
Expenses and out-of-pocket costs which are distinct from
litigation expenses, such as photocopying costs, telephone calls,
travel and postage, are recoverable as part of a reasonable
attorney's fee under § 1988. Abrams v. Lightolier, Inc.,
50 F.3d 1204
, 1225 (3d Cir. 1995) (citing in support Missouri v.
Jenkins by Agei, 491 U.S. 274
(1989)). Here, all of the expenses
requested are for costs which properly are recoverable under §
Accordingly, the court will award the expenses as requested.
"It is a well-established principle that when multiple
defendants are held to be liable in a civil rights action, the proper course of action for a district court is to allocate
responsibility for the payment of fees among the responsible
parties." Coleman v. Kaye, 87 F.3d at 1510 (citing Vargas v.
Hudson County Bd. Of Elections, 949 F.2d 665, 677 (3d Cir.
1991)). Where possible each defendant is to "bear the prevailing
plaintiff's fees for time spent on matters clearly related to the
claims made against that defendant." Id. (citation omitted).
In the March 14, 2001, opinion, the court found that the record
supported joint and several liability against HUD for the entire
award. Because the pre- and post-Decree record also adequately
supported the ACHA's secondary responsibility for liability, the
court also found that joint and several liability against the
ACHA for 35% of the award also is warranted. Except as noted
below, the County and the RAAC's proportionate shares are
included in the percentage assigned to HUD in light of the
stipulation between HUD and the County and the nominal role of
the RAAC throughout this litigation. This finding in regard to
proportionality remains the law of the case.
Accordingly, the court will find HUD responsible for 65% of the
overall fees award. However, as already noted, in order to
prevent a windfall to plaintiffs' counsel, the court has taken
into account the $194,000 that plaintiffs' will receive from ACHA
as part of their fees settlement.
For the reasons noted above, the plaintiff class' petition for
an award of attorneys' fees and expenses against HUD will be granted in part and denied in part. The total requested amount
of $697,028.71 will be adjusted as reflected in the calculations
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