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Joung v. Oral Prosthetics Laboratory, LLC

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Alexandria Division

October 11, 2016

SU KEN JOUNG, Plaintiff,
v.
ORAL PROSTHETICS LABORATORY, LLC, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          JAMES C. CACHERIS UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion for Attorney's Fees [Dkt. 16]. For the reasons that follow, the Court will grant Plaintiff's Motion in part and deny it in part, awarding Plaintiff $23, 875.36 in attorney's fees and $733.36 in litigation costs.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff formerly worked as a technician for Defendants making oral prosthetic devices. On July 3, 2015, Plaintiff notified Defendants through counsel that he believed he had a claim for unpaid overtime wages pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. § 207 (FLSA). He offered to settle his claim for $19, 790.00, but received no response.

         On July 30, 2015, Plaintiff brought suit against Defendants under the FLSA, alleging that Defendants failed to pay him overtime wages at a rate not less than one and a half times his normal pay. The case progressed through limited discovery before settlement negotiations resumed. The parties settled the case on February 10, 2016 for $10, 000 plus reasonable attorney's fees to be agreed upon or submitted to the Court in the absence of an agreement.

         Plaintiff now moves for an award of fees totaling $31, 372.06, representing 70.499 hours of work at a rate of $445 an hour, as well as litigation costs in the amount of $733.36.

         II. Legal Standard

         The FLSA provides that courts “shall, in addition to any judgment awarded to the plaintiff or plaintiffs, allow a reasonable attorney's fee to be paid by the defendant, and costs of the action.” 29 U.S.C. § 216(b). The parties' settlement agreement expressly allows for recovery of fees and costs pursuant to this provision in an amount to be determined by the Court unless otherwise agreed by the parties. See Joint Mot. for Approval of Settlement Exh. 1 [Dkt. 13-1] at 2-3.

         In evaluating a fee petition, “[t]he most useful 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.” Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 433 (1983). In conjunction with this calculation, courts evaluate:

(1) the time and labor expended; (2) the novelty and difficulty of the questions raised; (3) the skill required to properly perform the legal services rendered; (4) the attorney's opportunity costs in pressing the instant litigation; (5) the customary fee for like work; (6) the attorney's expectations at the outset of the litigation; (7) the time limitations imposed by the client or circumstances; (8) the amount in controversy and the results obtained; (9) the experience, reputation and ability of the attorney; (10) the undesirability of the case within the legal community in which the suit arose; (11) the nature and length of the professional relationship between attorney and client; and (12) attorneys' fees awards in similar cases.

Barber v. Kimbrell's, Inc., 577 F.2d 216, 226 n.28 (4th Cir. 1978). Generally, “[t]he Court need not address all twelve Kimbrell's factors independently” as they are “subsumed” into the initial evaluation of what constitutes a reasonable rate and number of hours expended. Wells Fargo Bank, Nat. Ass'n v. Walls, No. 1:12-CV-664 LMB/IDD, 2013 WL 869902, at *2 (E.D. Va. Mar. 4, 2013), aff'd 543 F. App'x 350 (4th Cir. 2013).

         III.

         Analysis A. Time and Labor Required

         The Court begins by assessing the reasonableness of the number of hours Plaintiff's counsel - Matthew B. Kaplan - expended on this litigation. Counsel's billing records show that he spent a total of ...


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