United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division
AVID PROCTOR, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the court on Plaintiff's Petition for
Attorneys' Fees. (Doc. # 92). The matter has been fully
briefed. (Docs. # 93, 98, 99, 104 and 105).
case, Plaintiff filed a one-count Complaint to recover
overtime wages under the Fair Labor Standards Act
(“FLSA”), 29 U.S.C. §§ 201-219, for
uncompensated work performed during her lunch break. (Doc. #
1). The case was actively litigated for over two years. There
were numerous unrequited overtures from Plaintiff to
Defendant to resolve the claim prior to trial. (Doc. # 99-2).
Defendant made crystal clear that it had no interest in
resolving the case and exercised its right to ignore all of
Plaintiff's proposals. Thereafter, the dispute was
ultimately tried to a jury. (Doc. # 82). The jury found in
favor of Plaintiff. (Id.).
specifically, the jury found Plaintiff had proved by a
preponderance of the evidence that (1) she worked in excess
of forty hours in a week in at least one workweek and was not
paid for that overtime, (2) Defendant actually or
constructively knew that Plaintiff worked over 40 hours in at
least one workweek without pay, and (3) Defendant failed to
pay Plaintiff overtime pay as required by law. (Doc. # 82 at
pp. 1-2). The jury further found that Defendant had not
established by a preponderance of the evidence that the
unpaid work over forty hours per week was de
minimis. (Id. at p. 2). The jury did not find
that Defendant knew or showed reckless disregard for whether
the FLSA prohibited its conduct. (Id.).
13, 2017, the court entered judgment on the jury's
verdict on the one count of the Complaint in favor of
Plaintiff against Defendant in the amount of $5, 355.72.
(Doc. # 91). The court's Final Judgment also held that
Plaintiff is entitled to recover reasonable costs and
attorneys' fees. (Id.). The court now considers
Plaintiff's Petition for those fees and costs.
Standard of Review
text of the FLSA provides that reasonable attorney's fees
and costs are to be awarded as a matter of course to a
prevailing plaintiff. See 29 U.S.C. § 216(b) (when
employer violates FLSA's overtime or minimum-wage
provisions, the court “shall ... allow a reasonable
attorney's fee to be paid by the defendant, and costs of
the action”); Kreager v. Solomon & Flanagan,
P.A., 775 F.2d 1541, 1542 (11th Cir.1985)
(“Section 216(b) of the [FLSA] makes fee awards
mandatory for prevailing plaintiffs.”). Here, Defendant
concedes that Plaintiff prevailed at trial, and is therefore
entitled to recover a reasonable fee under § 216(b).
(Doc. # 98). However, Defendant argues that Plaintiff's
request for fees and costs is not reasonable and should be
reduced. (Doc. # 98). Notably, Defendant does not challenge
the hourly rates charged by Plaintiff's
counsel. (Id.). Therefore, this analysis
will focus on the “reasonableness” of the hours
starting point for determining the amount of a reasonable fee
is the number of hours reasonably expended on the litigation
multiplied by a reasonable hourly rate.... The product of
these two figures is the lodestar and there is a strong
presumption that the lodestar is the reasonable sum the
attorneys deserve.” Bivins v. Wrap It Up,
Inc., 548 F.3d 1348, 1350 (11th Cir. 2008) (internal
citations and quotation marks omitted). However, “[t]he
product of reasonable hours times a reasonable rate does not
end the inquiry. There remain other considerations that may
lead the district court to adjust the fee upward or
downward.” Cullens v. Georgia Dep't of
Transp., 29 F.3d 1489, 1492 (11th Cir. 1994) (citation
omitted); see also Reynolds v. Alabama Dep't of
Transp., 926 F.Supp. 1448, 1453 (M.D. Ala. 1995)
(“After calculating the lodestar fee, the court should
then proceed with an analysis of whether any portion of this
fee should be adjusted upward or downward.”).
fixing a reasonable fee, courts in this Circuit consider the
twelve factors articulated in Johnson v. Georgia Highway
Express, Inc., 488 F.2d 714, 717-19 (5th Cir. 1974),
which are as follows: “1) the time and labor required;
2) the novelty and difficulty of the questions; 3) the skill
requisite to perform the legal service properly; 4) the
preclusion of other employment by the attorney due to the
acceptance of the case; 5) the customary fee; 6) whether the
fee is fixed or contingent; 7) time limitations imposed by
the client or the circumstances; 8) the amount involved and
the results obtained; 9) the experience, reputation and
ability of the attorneys; 10) the ‘undesirability'
of the case; 11) the nature and length of the professional
relationship with the client; and 12) awards in similar
cases.” Farley v. Nationwide Mut. Ins. Co.,
197 F.3d 1322, 1340 n. 7 (11th Cir. 1999); see also
Bivins, 548 F.3d at 1350 (“In determining what is
a reasonable hourly rate and what number of compensable hours
is reasonable, the court is to consider the 12 factors
enumerated in Johnson.”).
applicants must exercise what the Supreme Court has termed
billing judgment. ... That means they must exclude from their
fee applications excessive, redundant, or otherwise
unnecessary hours.” American Civil Liberties Union
of Georgia v. Barnes, 168 F.3d 423, 428 (11th Cir. 1999)
(citations and internal marks omitted). Thus, the district
court “must be reasonably precise in excluding hours
thought to be unreasonable or unnecessary, ” and
“is charged with deducting for redundant hours.”
Norman v. Alorica, Inc., 836 F.2d 1292, 1301 (S.D.
Ala. 2012). “If fee applicants do not exercise billing
judgment, courts are obligated to do it for them, to cut the
amount of hours for which payment is sought, pruning out
those that are excessive, redundant, or otherwise
unnecessary. Courts are not authorized to be generous with
the money of others.” ACLU of Georgia, 168
F.3d at 428 (internal quotation marks omitted).
argues that Plaintiff's fee petition is unreasonable in
the following respects: (1) the award should be reduced
because Plaintiff only partially prevailed; (2) Plaintiff
cannot recover for duplicative time entries; (3) Plaintiff
cannot recover for vague time entries; (4) Plaintiff cannot
recover for preparation of the fee petition; and (5) the cost
bill should be reduced for expenses not adequately supported.
(Doc. # 98).
Plaintiff Prevailed On Her Single FLSA Claim
argues that, because Plaintiff did not prevail on her request
for liquidated damages, she did not fully prevail on her FLSA
claim. The court disagrees. Plaintiff's Complaint
presented one claim on which Plaintiff prevailed at trial.
The jury's favorable finding regarding Defendant's
good faith defense to liquidated damages operated to reduce
the damages for which it was responsible, but that finding
did not negate Plaintiff's ...