United States District Court, District of Columbia
Document No. 23
RUDOLPH CONTRERAS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Plaintiff's Motion for an Award of Attorneys' Fees
December 11, 2018, this Court entered judgment in favor of
Plaintiff Eliseo Lima Lucero on his action to recover damages
for overtime pay from Defendant Parkinson Construction
Company under the Fair Labor Standards Act
(“FLSA”), 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq.; the
Maryland Wage and Hour Law, Md. Code, Lab. & Empl. Art.,
§ 3-401 et seq.; and the Maryland Wage Payment and
Collection Law, Md. Code, Lab. & Empl. Art., § 3-501
et seq. See Final J., ECF No. 22; Compl. at 1, ECF
No. 1. Plaintiff filed this Motion for an Award of
Attorneys' Fees and Costs on January 10, 2019.
See Mot. for Atty's' Fees, ECF No. 23. On
January 25, 2019, this matter was referred to U.S. Magistrate
Judge Robin M. Meriweather for mediation. See Order
Setting Mediation, ECF No. 26. However, mediation did not
yield a resolution on the outstanding issue. Plaintiff
contends that he is entitled to receive reasonable
attorneys' fees and costs under the FLSA. See
Mot. for Atty's' Fees at 1. Defendant argues that an
award of attorneys' fees and costs is unreasonable
because Plaintiff “intensely litigated on false
pretenses.” Def.'s Response to Mot. for
Att'ys' Fees at 1, ECF No. 24.
the FLSA, a prevailing plaintiff is entitled to an award of
reasonable attorneys' fees. 29 U.S.C. § 216(b);
see, e.g., Driscoll v. George Washington
Univ., 55 F.Supp.3d 106, 111 (D.D.C. 2014). A court is
to determine a reasonable fee using the
“lodestar” method, whereby the number of hours
reasonably expended is multiplied by a reasonable hourly
rate. See DL v. District of Columbia, No. 18-7004,
2019 WL 2180398, at *2 (D.C. Cir. May 21, 2019) (citing
Blum v. Stenson, 465 U.S. 886, 895 n.11 (1984)).
Therefore, in assessing whether an attorneys' fees award
is reasonable, a court is to (1) determine what constitutes a
reasonable hourly rate, (2) assess whether the hours billed
are reasonable, and (3) consider whether adjustments or
multipliers to the lodestar are warranted. See Martini v.
Fed. Nat'l Mortg. Ass'n, 977 F.Supp. 482, 484
(D.D.C. 1997) (citing Covington v. District of
Columbia, 57 F.3d 1101, 1107 (D.C. Cir. 1995)).
Reasonable Hourly Rate
reasonableness of an attorney's hourly rate should be
considered in light of the prevailing market rates in the
relevant community for lawyers with comparable skills,
experience, and reputation. See Salazar ex rel. Salazar
v. District of Columbia, 809 F.3d 58, 62 (D.C. Cir.
2015) (citing Covington, 57 F.3d at 1107).
“[A]ttorneys' fee matrices [are] one type of
evidence that ‘provide[ ] a useful starting point'
in calculating the prevailing market rate.” Ventura
v. L.A. Howard Constr. Co., 139 F.Supp.3d 462, 463-64
(D.D.C. 2015) (citing Eley v. District of Columbia,
793 F.3d 97, 100 (D.C. Cir. 2015)). For example, the D.C.
Circuit has established that courts may look to the
Laffey Matrix, a schedule of appropriate fees for an
attorney conducting litigation in Washington, D.C., that is
based on years of experience. Covington, 57 F.3d at
1105. Rather than merely declaring that the use
of a particular matrix is appropriate in the instant case, a
plaintiff should provide the court with evidence that the
matrix enumerates the prevailing rate for attorneys in
“this community for this type of
litigation by attorneys with comparable experience.”
L.A. Howard Constr. Co., 139 F.Supp.3d at 464.
Reasonable Hours Billed
assess reasonableness, a court must also consider whether the
number of hours billed for work by counsel are reasonable.
The plaintiff bears the burden of establishing that the hours
billed and sought for reimbursement are reasonable.
Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 437 (1983);
Reyes v. Kimuell, 270 F.Supp.3d 30, 36 (D.D.C 2017)
(citing Herrera v. Mitch O'Hara LLC, 257
F.Supp.3d 37, 46 (D.D.C. 2017)). The fee request “must
be sufficiently detailed to permit the District Court to make
an independent determination whether or not the hours claimed
are justified.” Herrera, 257 F.Supp.3d at 47
(quoting Nat'l Ass'n of Concerned Veterans v.
Sec'y of Def., 675 F.2d 1319, 1327 (D.C. Cir.
determining whether billed hours are reasonable, courts
should exclude hours that were not reasonably expended.
Hensley, 461 U.S. at 434. Productivity is the key
factor that determines whether an attorney's time was
reasonably expended. See Ventura v. Bebo Foods,
Inc., 738 F.Supp.2d 8, 33-34 (D.D.C. 2010) (citing
Copeland, 641 F.2d at 892). To this end, a court
should exclude hours that are “duplicative, excessive,
or otherwise unnecessary.” Bebo Foods, 738
F.Supp. at 33-34 (citing Copeland, 641 F.2d at 892);
see also Herrera, 257 F.Supp.3d at 47;
Serrano, 209 F.Supp.3d at 198.
addition, a court determining the reasonableness of hours
billed may exclude time expended on motions that ultimately
fail. See Bebo Foods, 738 F.Supp. at 33-34 (citing
Copeland, 641 F.2d at 892). In Reyes, this
Court found that “the hours billed by counsel were
reasonable because counsel expended a reasonable amount of
time on each task, were successful in all of their motions,
and did not bill for duplicative work.” 270 F.Supp.3d
at 38. But success is not the sole consideration. A
party's fee award should not necessarily be reduced
simply because that party was ultimately awarded less in
damages than it initially requested, particularly where there