Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Kevin Hayward, et al. v. Delaware Valley High Schoool

May 13, 2011

KEVIN HAYWARD, ET AL.
v.
DELAWARE VALLEY HIGH SCHOOOL



The opinion of the court was delivered by: O'neill, J.

MEMORANDUM

On October 12, 2010, plaintiffs Kevin Hayward, Antonio DeSeignoria, Errol C. Manley, Joseph M. Elenback, Jr., Nathan G. Butcher and Veronica Wilson-Thompson initiated this action against their employer defendant Delaware Valley High School, alleging that it violated the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 201 et seq., and the Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act, 43 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 333.101, by failing to compensate plaintiffs appropriately for their overtime hours. On January 20, 2011, defendant served upon plaintiffs an offer of judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 68, which represented one hundred percent of the overtime compensation due to plaintiffs. Plaintiffs' counsel now seeks an award of $11,649.10 in attorney's fees and costs.

Defendant objects to the motion on the grounds that the time plaintiffs' counsel's spent on this case was excessive. It asserts that if, prior to filing suit, plaintiffs had approached defendant and sought the back pay they were owed, defendant would have issued the payments and avoided litigation altogether.

DISCUSSION

The FLSA provides that "[t]he court in such action shall, in addition to any judgment awarded to the plaintiff or plaintiffs, allow a reasonable attorney's fee to be paid by the defendant, and costs of the action." 29 U.S.C. § 216(b). The party seeking attorney's fees bears the burden of producing evidence establishing that its request is reasonable. Potence v. Hazelton Area Sch. Dist., 357 F.3d 366, 374 (3d Cir. 2004). "The starting point for determining the amount of a reasonable fee is the lodestar, which courts determine by calculating the 'number of hours reasonably expended on the litigation multiplied by a reasonable hourly rate.'" McKenna v. City of Philadelphia, 582 F.3d 447, 455 (3d Cir. 2009) (describing the analysis for awarding attorney's fees under 28 U.S.C. § 1988).

I. Reasonable Hourly Rate "A reasonable rate is the prevailing market rate in the relevant community. An attorney's usual billing rate is a good starting point for assessing reasonableness, though it is not dispositive." Enright v. Springfield Sch. Dist., No. 04-1653, 2008 WL 696845, at *1 (E.D. Pa. Mar. 13, 2008), citing Maldonado v. Houstoun, 256 F.3d 181, 184-85 (3d Cir. 2001). "The court 'should assess the experience and skill of the prevailing party's attorneys and compare their rates to the rates prevailing in the community for similar services by lawyers of reasonably comparable skill, experience, and reputation.'" Maldonado, 256 F.3d at 184, quoting Rode v. Dellarciprete, 892 F.2d 1177, 1183 (3d Cir. 1990). Although defendant does not seriously question the reasonableness of the requested hourly rates, it is my obligation to review counsel's request and satisfy myself that the requested rates are reasonable.

Three attorneys represented plaintiffs in this case: Mark Gottesfeld, Peter Winebrake and R. Andrew Santillo. Winebrake, however, does not seek fees for the time he spent on this case. Santillo graduated from Temple Law School where he served as the Editor-in-Chief of the Temple Political and Civil Rights Law Review. He is presently an equity partner in the Winebrake Law Firm and has been practicing law for approximately seven years. During that time, he has represented plaintiffs in approximately eighty lawsuits alleging violations of state and federal wage and overtime laws. Many of those lawsuits were filed in this Court.

He seeks compensation at an hourly rate of $275. In support of his requested rate, he has produced the declarations of four attorneys who regularly pursue FLSA claims in this Court. Each attorney asserts that Santillo's requested rate is reasonable according to the prevailing market rates in Philadelphia. Defendant has not produced any evidence calling into question the reasonableness of Santillo's requested rate. I therefore find Santillo's requested hourly rate of $275 to be reasonable.

Gottesfeld graduated cum laude from Drexel University Earle Mack School of Law in 2009. While a student, he served as an editor of the school's law review and as a judicial intern. Following graduation, he was employed as a law clerk at a Philadelphia law firm. In August 2010, he joined the Winebrake Law Firm as an associate and has since practiced exclusively in field of FLSA litigation. Gottesfeld requests compensation at an hourly rate of $170, which is in accord with the schedule of hourly rates published by Community Legal Services. Defendant has produced no evidence questioning the reasonableness of Gottesfeld's requested rate. I therefore find Gottesfeld requested hourly rate of $170 to be reasonable.

II. Reasonable Number of Hours Spent In the Litigation I must next determine whether the number of hours plaintiffs' counsel spent on this litigation was reasonable. The parties disagree as to the reasonableness of the hours plaintiffs' counsel spent on this litigation.*fn1

Defendant first argues that given the "bare-bones nature of the Complaint, the amount of time 'investigating' and preparing the Complaint is preposterous." See Def.'s Br. at 4. My review of the billing record submitted by plaintiffs' counsel reveals that plaintiffs' counsel seeks to recover for 10.2 hours of attorney's time spent on investigating the merits of the lawsuit and preparing the complaint. This is a reasonable amount of time to spend on such tasks.

Next, defendant argues that plaintiffs' counsel improperly seek compensation for hours spent on administrative tasks. See Def.'s Br. at 4. "[W]hen a lawyer spends time on tasks that are easily delegable to non-professional assistance, legal service rates are not applicable." Halderman by Halderman v. Pennhurst State Sch. & Hosp., 49 F.3d 939, 942 (3d Cir. 1995). Plaintiffs' counsel argues that Courts have awarded attorney's fees for purely administrative tasks where the law firm at issue was so small that the attorney had no one to delegate the administrative tasks to. Pls.' Rep. at 2. Plaintiff has not, however, submitted any evidence that this is the case. I will therefore decline to award attorney's fees for the following administrative tasks. See Sheffer v. Experian Info. Solutions, Inc., 290 F. Supp. 2d 538, 549 (E.D. Pa. 2003) ("Since the costs of clerical work, such as filing and copying, are ordinarily considered to be part of an attorney's rate as office overhead, they will not be compensated."). ! Row 26 on counsel's billing record indicates that Gottesfeld spent .1 hours sending the complaint along with a cover letter to his client. ! Row 30 indicates that Gottesfeld spent .1 hours reviewing the complaint "as docketed."

! Row 41 indicates that Gottesfeld spent .2 hours mailing memos and consent forms to "potential opt-ins." ! Row 43 indicates that Gottesfeld spent .1 hours mailing a consent form to named plaintiff, Kevin Hayward. ! Row 45 indicates that Gottesfeld spent .1 hours reviewing the signed representation agreement from Kevin Hayward and scanning it into "the system." ! Row 46 indicates that Gottesfeld spent .2 hours updating the opt-in plaintiffs' contact information into the law firm's case management software. ! Row 48 indicates that Gottesfeld spent .3 hours preparing and mailing a memo to one of the plaintiffs which included a consent form and the complaint. ! Row 49 indicates that Gottesfeld spent .3 hours filing notices of consent on behalf of two plaintiffs. ! Row 50 indicates that Gottesfeld spent .1 hours reviewing the notices of consent discussed in row 49 and saving such notices to "the system." ! Row 51 indicates that Gottesfeld spent .3 hours preparing and mailing a "waiver of service package" to defendant. ! Row 54 indicates that Gottesfeld spent .1 hours reviewing signed consent forms from "two more opt-ins." ! Row 55 indicates that Santillo spent .1 hours reviewing and calendaring a hearing. ! Row 57 indicates that Gottesfeld spent .2 hours filing a "waiver of service package" with the Court. ! Row 58 indicates that Gottesfeld spent .1 hours reviewing the "waiver of service package as docketed." ! Row 59 indicates that Gottesfeld spent .2 hours filing notices of consent on behalf of two plaintiffs. ! Row 60 indicates that Gottefeld spent .1 hours reviewing "as docketed" the notices of consent discussed in row 59. ! Row 62 indicated that Gottesfeld spent .2 hours filing and reviewing "as docketed" the waiver of service form executed by defendant. ! Row 63 indicates that Gottesfeld spent .1 hours receiving a signed notice of consent form from one of the plaintiffs. ! Row 64 indicates that Gottesfeld spent .2 hours receiving and reviewing "as docketed" named plaintiff's notice of consent form. ! Row 69 indicates that Gottesfeld spent .2 hours creating an "opt-in packet" for one of the plaintiffs. ! Row 73 indicates ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.