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THOMPSON v. BARRETT

December 19, 1984

DORTHY M. THOMPSON, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
WILLIAM J. BARRETT, JR., Defendant



The opinion of the court was delivered by: RICHEY

 INTRODUCTION

 This case is before the Court on Plaintiff's Application for an Award of Attorneys' Fees and Costs, arising out of plaintiffs' successful suit brought against the defendant under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Equal Pay Act. Litigation in this case has gone on for almost twelve years. The case has survived the death of the original trial judge, whose untimely death occurred before decision, and thus required a second trial, and an appeal to the District of Columbia Circuit. Thompson v. Sawyer, 678 F.2d 257 (D.C. Cir. 1982). One of the major claims in this action was initially dismissed by the original trial judge, then reinstated for the second trial by this Court. Major precedents were set in several areas of the Civil Rights Laws, which offered the plaintiffs at most an unclear basis for relief at the time this litigation commenced. The litigation resulted in a major breakthrough for women in the government printing field, and in the general area of equal pay for equal work. Major newspaper and magazine articles in such publications as the Washington Post, Ms. Magazine and Good Housekeeping, etc., as well as reports in the national media such as the NBC Nightly News, which are in the record of this fee application, proclaimed the case as a landmark in the protection of womens' rights in the workplace. They also chronicled the risks involved, as well as the magnitude of the changes in the printing and other industries resulting from this case. The Washington Post, May 21, 1980, at A1, col. 1; N.Y. Times, May 21, 1980, at A20, col. 1; Good Housekeeping, April, 1984, pg. 84. In every respect, this case represents an outstanding example of tenacious advocacy, the making of new law, and doing so in the face of extreme odds and in the finest tradition of legal advocacy at its very best.

 HISTORY OF THE CASE

 After a lengthy administrative investigation, the GPO denied plaintiffs' claims in their entirety, finding that the JBWs were not victims of sex discrimination. Plaintiffs were denied the opportunity to discuss the findings in the administrative record.

 On July 24, 1974, plaintiffs filed a class action in this Court, which was assigned to the late Judge Joseph Waddy. The complaint relied, inter alia, on Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-16; the Equal Pay Act of 1963, as amended, 29 U.S.C. § 206(d); and Executive Order 11478, 34 F.R. 12985, as amended. The complaint alleged a broad pattern and practice of discrimination on the part of GPO extending to all class plaintiffs, and sought injunctive, declaratory and monetary relief, both retrospective and prospective.

 The case went to trial before Judge Waddy in March, 1978. At the close of plaintiffs' case, he granted Summary Judgment in favor of the government on the plaintiffs' Equal Pay Act claims. The trial was then tried to a conclusion without a decision being rendered because Judge Waddy died in the following summer, before making the requisite findings under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended. The case was thereupon randomly reassigned to this member of the Court. The Court, after careful consideration, determined that plaintiffs were entitled to a new trial on all issues. Following further discovery and proceedings before the Court, a second trial began on March 7, 1979.

 On October 1, 1979, the Court issued a memorandum opinion on the issue of liability. In that opinion, the Court held that Grade 4 JBW plaintiffs who operated Smyth Sewing Machines were entitled to relief under the Equal Pay Act, and that all plaintiffs were entitled to relief under Title VII on the grounds, among others, that the four-year apprenticeship program was unnecessary and itself constituted a violation of Title VII as applied to the plaintiffs, and that the classification of all plaintiffs differently from Bookbinders also was a violation of Title VII.

 On May 20, 1980, the Court issued a relief order, together with a supporting memorandum. Among the provisions of the order were that the plaintiffs were entitled to back-pay relief under Equal Pay Act and Title VII prior to the effective date of those statutes and that plaintiffs were entitled to hiring preferences over males until fifty percent (50%) were women, and other prospective relief.

 GPO thereupon filed an appeal and plaintiffs cross-appealed. On April 27, 1982, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit affirmed this Court's decision in almost every respect. Thompson v. Sawyer, 678 F.2d 257 (D.C. Cir. 1982). The Circuit Court issued a narrow remand confined to refashioning the quotas or goals established by this Court, and for revising the formula for front pay to make it consistent with the formula used for awarding back pay for Title VII access violations. On June 11, 1982, GPO petitioned for an extension of time in which to file a petition for rehearing. This motion was denied by the Court of Appeals. GPO did not seek certiorari review by the Supreme Court.

 THE FEE PETITION

 Plaintiffs' attorneys, Nora A. Bailey of Ivins, Phillips & Barker, Roderic V. O. Boggs of the Washington Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, and David M. Dorsen of Sachs, Greenebaum & Tayler, have filed the present application for an award of attorney's fees and costs through June 25, 1982. The original application has been supplemented four times in light of strong opposition by the defendant and changes in the law affecting this matter. Plaintiffs' attorneys base their application on Section 717 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-16, 29 C.F.R. § 1613.271(c), and the Equal Pay Act, as amended, 29 U.S.C. § 216(b).

 As there can be no question that plaintiffs are the prevailing party in this action, they are entitled to an award of reasonable fees and costs under both of the above-cited statutes. The crucial determination, as in any attorneys' fees dispute, is the proper amount to which plaintiffs are entitled under the law. 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-16 establishes a procedure whereby federal employees may bring a Title VII suit against the government. 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-16(d) provides that civil actions brought under this statute will be governed by § 2000e-5(f) through (k). Under these provisions, a prevailing party in a Title VII claim, other than the Equal Opportunity Commission or the United States, may, in the discretion of the trial court, be awarded reasonable attorneys' fees from the government. 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(k). Likewise, 29 U.S.C. § 216(b) provides for reasonable attorneys' fees in a successful Equal Pay Act claim.

 As the Supreme Court has recognized, the amount which reflects a "reasonable" attorneys' fee must be determined on the facts of each case. Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 103 S. Ct. 1933, 1937, 76 L. Ed. 2d 40 (1983). In that case the Supreme Court embraced the "loadstar" formula: the number of hours reasonably expended multiplied by a reasonable hourly rate. Id. 103 S. Ct. at 1940; Copeland v. Marshall, 205 U.S. App. D.C. 390, 641 F.2d 880, 891 (D.C. Cir. 1980). As the Court said in Hensley, "this calculation provides an objective basis by which to make an initial estimate of the value of a lawyer's services." 103 S. Ct. at 1939. The product of this formula can then be adjusted upward or downward based on other considerations, including the degree to which the plaintiff has prevailed on all the issues raised. Id. 103 S. Ct. at 1940. After such an adjustment has been made, the resulting amount may then be increased by the use of a "multiplier," or "incentive award," which increases the total award to reflect an exceptional success ...


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