United States District Court, S.D. Alabama, Southern Division
K. DuBOSE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on Plaintiffs' motion for
fees/costs (Doc. 86), Defendants' Response (Doc. 87),
Plaintiffs' Reply (Doc. 88) and Plaintiffs' Bill of
Costs (Doc. 89).
8, 2014, 14 Plaintiffs initiated this FLSA collective again
against Defendants. (Doc. 1). On March 12, 2015, Stokes was
terminated as a plaintiff. (Doc. 24). On May 12, 2015, White
was terminated as a plaintiff. (Docs. 35, 37). On June 9,
2015, Wilkins was terminated as a plaintiff. (Docs. 42, 43).
On June 10, 2015, Plaintiffs' counsel's request to
withdraw from representing Carrier, Hannon and McGee in this
case was granted. (Docs. 32, 44). On July 1, 2015, Carrier,
Hannon and McGee were terminated as plaintiffs. (Doc. 49). On
March 22, 2016, Portis was terminated as a plaintiff. Thus,
as of March 23, 2016, seven (7) plaintiffs remained in this
case - Ford, Franklin, Knight, Law, Poellnitz, Reed and
August 19, 2016, these seven (7) plaintiffs moved the Court
for approval of the settlement agreements. (Docs. 80). The
motion was denied but with leave to refile. (Doc. 81). On
November 17, 2016 these plaintiffs moved the Court for
approval of the amended settlement agreements. (Doc. 84). On
November 30, 2016, this Court granted the parties' joint
motion to approve the amended settlement agreement and
release, reserving the issue of attorneys' fees and costs
for another day. (Doc. 85).
as this is an FLSA case, the Court had to determine whether
the settlement is a “fair and reasonable resolution of
a bona fide dispute” of the claims raised to approve
the settlement. Lynn's Food Stores, Inc. v. United
States of Am., 679 F.2d 1350, 1354-1355 (11th
Cir. 1982). This includes an assessment of attorneys'
fees and costs. As such, in granting the parties' motion
to approve the amended settlements, the Court considered the
parties' representations that “Plaintiffs'
counsel will be filing an application for an additional,
separate sum of reasonable attorneys' fees and costs,
meaning that counsel's recovery is in no way related to
those sums to be paid to Plaintiffs in compromise of their
claims.” (Doc. 84 at 8). The parties stated that they
disagreed on the amount to attorneys' fees to be assessed
and so “agreed to let the Court determine” the
amount, as set forth in the proposed settlement agreements at
Paragraph 7. (Id. at 10). Paragraph 7(a) of the
settlement agreements provides:
(a) NAVIKA has agreed to pay the reasonable attorneys'
fees and costs incurred by FORD, with such fees being
determined by the Court. The Parties agree that counsel for
FORD shall file a motion to determine the reasonable
attorneys' fees incurred by counsel for FORD herein in
accordance with Local Rule 7.0. The Parties further agree
that, unless the Court orders otherwise, such motion shall be
submitted on the papers and payment for reasonable
attorney's fees shall be made within thirty (30) days
after the Court determines and awards such.
granting on the motion to approve the settlement, the Court
As set forth above, the motion is GRANTED
and the settlement agreements are APPROVED.
The parties have agreed that the Court will calculate
attorneys' fees in this matter. Under the FLSA
attorneys' fees are an integral part of damages and thus
judgment will not be entered until the attorneys' fee
determination is resolved. See Shelton v. Ervin, 830
F.2d 182, 184 (11th Cir.1987) (“…[W]e hold that
attorney fees are an integral part of the merits of FLSA
cases and part of the relief sought therein. Thus, a final
determination as to the award of attorney fees is required as
part of the final appealable judgment.”).
(Doc. 85). The Court ordered briefing and on December 21,
2016, Plaintiffs moved for fees and costs, and on January 11,
2017 submitted a Bill of Costs. (Docs. 86, 89).
Plaintiffs seeks attorneys' fees and costs “to be
paid by the Defendants.” (Doc. 86). According to
counsel, they recovered $41, 560.00 for the seven (7)
Plaintiffs on their FLSA claims against the Defendants.
(Docs. 86 at 5, 86-1 (Decltn. Steele)). Now, Plaintiffs'
counsel seeks recovery of an additional $68, 999.50 in
attorneys' fees and $1, 160.69 in costs/expenses for
450.80 hours litigating this case on behalf of all
14 of the original plaintiffs from July 4, 2014-December
21, 2016, as well as $2, 120.00 for preparing the fees
After excluding hours that have been eliminated through the
exercise of billing judgment; reducing the hourly rates in
accordance with the prevailing market rates in Mobile,
Alabama; analyzing the decisions of this Court;
Plaintiffs' counsel reduced the 536.10 hours expended
prosecuting this matter to 450.8 for which counsel is seeking
compensation. Plaintiffs' current lodestar is $68,
999.50-which leads to an effective “blended” rate
of $153.06 per hour. Plaintiffs seek costs and expenses in
the amount of $1, 160.69. Consequently, the question before
this Court is whether the $68, 999.50 lodestar amount of fees
for Plaintiffs' counsel's work prosecuting this
action and the $2, 120.00 lodestar amount for preparing this
application are reasonable.
(Doc. 86 at 2). Plaintiffs' separately filed Bill of
Costs seeks an additional $733.90 ($400 for fees of
the clerk and $333.90 for service of the
summons/petition). (Docs. 89, 89-1, 89-2). Defendants
vigorously oppose the amount of attorneys' fees and costs
requested. (Doc. 88).