New York District Court awarded 25% of the attorneys’ fees requested

Posted on April 2nd, 2014 by Legal Fee Advisors

In an April 2013 decision, in the case of Bravia Capital Partners, Inc. v Fike, 296 FRD 136 [SDNY 2013], the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York took a swipe at the fee request and awarded attorneys’ fees in the amount of $12,526.50, excluding all fees that were vaguely described or which reflected duplicative work and reducing the fees even further by an additional 40 percent.

This case started as an action brought by employer, seeking declaration that it did not owe the independent contractor compensation for various deals. The court granted independent contractor’s request to impose sanction of awarding attorneys’ fees incurred in making a motion to compel employer to make disclosures in connection with the discovery demands. In response to the court’s request, independent contractor’s counsel submitted a fee application for $48,517.50 with declaration stating that the invoice submitted reflects the time and expenses actually incurred.

The court conducted detailed, line by line, review of the submitted invoice, and applied multiple reductions. The court first excluded a total of $27,640 due to lack of reasonableness. The court excluded all fees associated with invoice entries that reflected duplicative work or vague descriptions which did not reflect their relationship to the motion to compel. The court even went a step further and listed all fees it deemed as appropriate, and then reduced them by an additional 40 percent.  Counsel’s fee application did not provide evidence to support the reasonableness of their fees and therefore deprived opposing counsel opportunity to analyze them.

The lesson that stands out here is that fee applications should be submitted with a great deal of detail to satisfy the reasonableness standard in attorneys’ fee cases.   Fee application not supported by evidence on reasonableness, and containing vague and duplicative entries, will be scrutinized by courts, and might result in as much as 75 percent reduction of the fees sought.

Enisa Tutovic

Legal Fee Advisors © 2014

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