United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania
MEMORANDUM ORDER AND ENTRY OF JUDGMENT
PARADISE BAXTER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Mark Murphy ("Plaintiff) commenced the instant civil
action on October 22, 2018 with the filing of his
single-count complaint alleging violations of the Fair Debt
Collection Practices Act ("FDCPA"), 15 U.S.C.
§1692 et seq. ECF No. 1. The complaint was
served on the Defendant, Ability Recovery Services, LLC
("Defendant") on October 30, 2018. ECF No. 4.
Defendant's answer was due on November 20, 2018,
id.; however, no answer was filed and, on November
28, 2018, the Clerk entered a default as to Defendant.
April 18, 2019, the case was referred to United States
Magistrate Judge Richard A. Lanzillo for report and
recommendation in accordance with the Magistrate Judges Act,
28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1), and Rules 72.1.3 and 72.1.4 of
the Local Rules for Magistrate Judges. Thereafter, Plaintiff
filed a motion for a default judgment against the Defendant.
ECF No. 12. In his motion, Plaintiff sought $1, 000.00 in
statutory damages, $460.00 in costs, and $4, 127.50 in
attorney's fees. Id. at ¶ 14.
August 7, 2019, Magistrate Judge Lanzillo issued a report and
recommendation in which he opined that Plaintiffs motion
should be granted and that Plaintiff should be awarded $1,
000.00 in statutory damages, $460.00 in costs, and $3, 120.00
in attorney's fees. ECF No. 13. After reviewing the
requested attorney's fee award, Magistrate Judge Lanzillo
concluded that all of the hours of legal and paralegal work
that were expended on Plaintiffs case (i.e., 9.6 hours of
legal work and 2.3 hours of paralegal work) should be
approved as reasonable. Nevertheless, Judge Lanzillo
recommended that this Court apply an attorney billing rate of
$325.00 per hour, rather than the rate of $400.00 per hour
that Plaintiff requested. The Magistrate Judge reasoned that
a billing rate of $325.00 per hour would more accurately
reflect the hourly rates that prevail among experienced
counsel practicing in this forum. Judge Lanzillo did not
recommend any adjustment to the requested paralegal rate of
$125.00 per hour. Thus, the discrepancy between the requested
counsel fee award and the amount that Judge Lanzillo believes
should be awarded is attributable solely to a reduction in
counsel's hourly rate from $400.00 per hour to $325.00
to the Report and Recommendation were due on August 21, 2019.
Id. To date, no objections have been filed, and
Defendant has still not made an appearance in this case.
the lack of objections, the Court notes that the Magistrate
Judge's proposed attorney's fee award accounts only
for the fees attributable to attorney work (i.e.,
9.6 hours of work at $325.00 per hour), and appears to
inadvertently omit the fees incurred for (paralegal
work (i.e., 2.3 hours at $125.00 per hour, totaling $287.50).
As the latter appears to involve hours reasonably expended on
Plaintiffs case, the Court will approve the 2.3 hours of
paralegal work performed. The Court will adjust the paralegal
billing rate to $100.00 per hour, however, as that rate is
more in line with the prevailing rate for paralegals
practicing within this forum. See, e.g., Bower v. NRA
Grp, LLC, No. CV 18-389, 2019 WL 3306515, at *6 (W.D.
Pa. July 22, 2019) (approving an award of counsel fees that
incorporated 5.73 hours of paralegal time billed at $50.00
per hour); Meyers v. Perm N. Centers for Advanced Wound
Care, P.C., No. CIV. 11-182 ERIE, 2014 WL 3535550, at
*10 (W.D. Pa. July 16, 2014) (adjusting attorney rate for
administrative tasks downward to "a common hourly rate
for paralegals of $ 100"); Arneault v.
O'Toole, No. 1:11-CV-00095-SJM, 2014 WL 12836858, at
*12 (W.D. Pa. June 6, 2014), report and recommendation
adopted as modified, No. 11-95, 2016 WL 7029620 (W.D.
Pa. Dec. 2, 2016), affd, 718 Fed.Appx. 148 (3d Cir.
2017) (applying adjusted hourly rates of $90.00 and $149.00,
respectively, for various paralegals, depending on their
experience). Based upon these adjustments, the Court will
award paralegal fees in the amount of $230.00, bringing the
total fee award to $3, 350.00 ($3120.00 in attorney's
fees plus $230.00 in paralegal fees).
de novo review of the complaint and documents in the
case, Plaintiff s Motion for Default Judgment and related
filings, and the Magistrate Judge's report and
recommendation, the following order is entered:
NOW, this 30th day of October, 2019;
ORDERED that the Plaintiffs Motion for Default Judgment, ECF
No. , shall be, and hereby is, GRANTED to the extent is
hereby awarded $1, 000.00 in statutory damages, $460.00 in
costs, and $3, 350.00 in attorney's fees.
FURTHER ORDERED that, in accordance with Rule 58 of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, JUDGMENT is hereby entered
in favor of Plaintiff Mark Murphy, and against Defendant
Ability Recovery Services, LLC, in the total amount of
FURTHER ORDERED that the report and recommendation issued by
Magistrate Judge Lanzillo on August 7, 2019, ECF No. , as
modified herein, is hereby adopted as the opinion of this
there are no other claims pending before the Court in this
civil action, the Clerk is directed to ...