U.S. Magistrate Judge’s Recommendations Has Some Nice “Fees on Fees” Hints.
In a January 13, 2012 post of the Courthouse News Service, we are informed that U.S. District Judge Jack Weinstein accepted U.S. Magistrate Judge Roanne L. Mann’s recommendation that a civil rights plaintiff should be awarded $80,000 in attorney’s fees for prevailing in the interesting civil rights case of Brown v. Starrett City Associates, Case No. 09-CV-3282 (JBW) (E.D.N.Y.).
Civil rights plaintiff, a Brooklyn woman, was handcuffed by a policeperson after she adjusted the shoulder strap of a young woman who was earlier handcuffed in an altercation occurring outside plaintiff’s abode. Plaintiff allegedly told officers that she had existing wrist problems, but was cuffed very tightly and only had the pressure alleviated after her wrist became swollen from the cuffing. She filed a civil rights lawsuit against the police, with a jury awarding her $500 for excessive force.
Recently, District Judge Weinstein accepted the magistrate judge’s recommendation that plaintiff be awarded $80,000 in attorney’s fees under the pro-plaintiff fee-shifting provision codified at 42 U.S.C. § 1988. See Judge Weinstein’s January 6, 2012 Order. Plaintiff was found to have prevailed, with even the modest damages awarded supporting an affirmative fee order under the civil rights statutes. The magistrate judge rejected that plaintiff was limited to the 33 1/3% contingency fee bargain when it came to awarding reasonable fees under section 1988.
The biggest reduction was registered in the “fees on fees” area--plaintiff’s counsel’s request for fees in preparing the fee motion itself. Counsel claimed 29 hours for this work, but the magistrate judge reduced it by 7 hours--observing, in the process, that the norm for fee application work in the E.D.N.Y. is 5-15 hours, citing Murray ex rel. Murray v. Mills, 354 F.Supp.2d 231, 241 (E.D.N.Y. 2005) as support for this generalized work effort with respect to “fees on fees.”
For a copy of the magistrate judge’s recommendation (Doc. 89, filed on 10/27/11), see Courthouse News Service’s January 13, 2012 post for a link to the recommendation.
BLAWG BONUS: “Jack Bertrand Weinstein (born August 10, 1921) is a United States federal judge in the Eastern District of New York. Judge Weinstein was appointed in 1967 by President Lyndon Johnson. From 1980 to 1988, he served as chief judge of the district. On March 1, 1993, he took senior status; however, unlike some senior judges, he has maintained a full docket. He is the author of a leading treatise on evidence and numerous articles and books, and is widely regarded as one of the most respected and influential living judges in America.” Source: Wikipedia.