United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania
SCREEN ACTORS GUILD - AMERICAN FEDERATION OF TELEVISION AND RADIO ARTISTS, AFL-CIO, Plaintiff,
SHERIDAN BROADCASTING NETWORKS, SHERIDAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION, RONALD DAVENPORT, JR., and RONALD DAVENPORT, SR, Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER, Re: ECF No. 58
Maureen P. Kelly Magistrate Judge
before the Court is the Motion for Attorneys' Fees and
Punitive Damages (the "Motion") filed by Plaintiff
Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and
Radio Artists, AFL-CIO, (referred to as the
"Union"). ECF No. 58. Defendants Sheridan Broadcasting Networks,
Sheridan Broadcasting Corporation, Ronald Davenport, Jr. and
Ronald Davenport, Sr. (referred to collectively as the
"Defendants") have filed a Response in Opposition
to Plaintiffs Motion for Punitive Damages and Attorneys'
Fees. ECF No. 60. The instant Motion is now ripe for
FACTUAL BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Union brought this action on behalf of regular full-time and
part-time newspersons, audio journalists, and producers
formerly employed by Sheridan Broadcasting Networks
("SBN"), in an effort to obtain earned unpaid
wages, unreimbursed expenses and related damages deemed owing
in an arbitration filed against SBN. The Union alleged
liability pursuant to the Labor Management Relations Act of
1947, as amended ("LMRA"), 29 U.S.C. § 185(c),
and asserted state law claims against Defendants SBN,
Sheridan Broadcasting Corporation ("SBC"), Ronald
Davenport, Jr., and Ronald Davenport, Sr. (the individual
Davenport Defendants shall be referred to collectively as the
"Davenport Defendants"). ECF No. 1. Specifically,
the Union brought claims against SBN, its alter ego SBC, and
the Davenport Defendants for (1) breach of contract arising
out of Defendants' failure to comply with a collective
bargaining agreement requirement to remit payment ordered
pursuant to a properly entered arbitration award (Count I),
(2) a claim for unpaid wages pursuant to the Pennsylvania .
Wage Payment and Collection Law ("WPCL"), 43 Pa.
Cons. Stat. § 260 et seq., (Count II), and (3)
a claim for conversion of Union dues deducted from employee
wages but never remitted to SAG - AFTRA (Count III).
Id. Although SBN admitted both liability and damages
in the arbitration proceeding, Defendants filed an Answer in
this case denying liability. ECF No. 7.
Union previously filed a Motion for Judgment on the
Pleadings, ECF No. 38, requesting that this Court enter
judgment in its favor as a matter of law pursuant to Rule
12(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and against
each of the named Defendants. In the Motion for Judgment on
the Pleadings, the Union claimed damages awarded in
arbitration for unpaid wages, unpaid severance pay, pay due
in lieu of written notice of termination, failure to
implement a wage increase, failure to reimburse expenses, and
failure to remit union dues withheld from employee paychecks.
filed their brief in opposition to the motion, ECF No. 43.
SBN/SBC conceded liability for all sums in awarded in
arbitration and the Davenport Defendants conceded their
personal responsibility for sums due and owing in the course
of this litigation.
review, the Court granted the Union's Motion for Judgment
on the Pleadings as to the breach of contract claims, the
Pennsylvania Wage Payment and Collection Law claim, and the
conversion claim. ECF No. 45. As such, the Court found that
the Union was entitled to the damages claimed and awarded
damages as set forth below.
Wages to be paid in lieu of notice of termination
$ 36, 343.29
Severance pay owed employees
$ 170, 685.12
Unpaid wages attributed to 3% wage increase
$ 2, 812.38
Wages owed to employees for the period August
16-31, 2017, and wraps and voices produced during
$ 18, 829.00
Clothing allowance, mileage, and other unreimbursed
$ 9, 088.39
Union dues withheld and not remitted
$ 2, 293.09
Liquidated Damages of 25% of wages owed
$ 65, 165.53
$ 325, 827.64
Id. at 17. Accordingly, the Court found in favor of
the Union and against Defendants Sheridan Broadcasting
Networks, Sheridan Broadcasting Corporation, Ronald
Davenport, Jr., and Ronald Davenport, Sr., and awarded a
total of $325, 827.64 in damages. Id. at 18.
Union also sought punitive damages as well as attorney's
fees and costs, which the Court held would be considered
separately upon motion filed in support thereof The Court set
the deadline for the filing of such a motion. Thereafter, the
Union filed the instant Motion on July 8, 2019. ECF No. 58.
Defendants filed a Response in Opposition on July 24, 2019.
instant Motion, as the prevailing party on the Pennsylvania
WPCL claim, the Union seeks to be awarded a total of $50,
994.16 in attorneys' fees and costs, consisting of $45,
262.50 for legal services provided by Attorney Peter
Demkovitz, $3, 780.00 in legal services provided by Attorney
Jonathan Walters, and an award of $1, 951.66 for
attorneys' costs and expenses. ECF No. 58 at 7.
support of the instant Motion, the Union asserts that the
reasonable hourly rate for Attorney Demkovitz is $375.00 per
hour, and for Attorney Walters is $450.00 per hour. ECF No.
58-1. The Union has submitted the affidavit of Attorney
Walters, Id. at 1-4, and the statement of
professional services, with an itemized breakdown of legal
services rendered. Id. at 5-8.
Response in Opposition, Defendants "do not take issue
with the hourly rate or the invoice provided by the
Plaintiffs." ECF No. 60 at 6. However, Defendants argue
that an award of attorneys' fees should be limited to
legal fees arising out of the WPCL claim. Id. As
such, Defendants argue that of the $325, 827.24 that this
Court awarded, only $237, 758.18 is attributable to the wage
claim, which equates to 72.97% of the judgment amount.
Id. Defendants argue that this percentage should be
applied to the total amount ...