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Olin v. M.R.S. Associates, Inc.

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

February 14, 2014

BRIAN OLIN, Plaintiff,
v.
M.R.S. ASSOCIATES, INC., Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

NOEL L. HILLMAN, District Judge.

This matter having come before the Court by way of Plaintiff's declaration [Doc. No. 41] in support of his original motion [Doc. No. 38] for attorney's fees and costs in this case brought pursuant to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act; and

The Court having previously denied Plaintiff's original motion without prejudice by Opinion and Order [Doc. Nos. 41, 42] dated November 26, 2013;[1] and

The Court having found in the November 26, 2013 Opinion that Plaintiff's original motion for attorney's fees was untimely under both Federal Rule 54(d)(2)(B)(i) and Civil Rule 54.2(a) because it was filed 84 days beyond the deadline for such a motion - a delay of approximately three (3) months, (Op. [Doc. No. 41] 13-14, Nov. 26, 2013); and

The Court having further found that despite its willingness to consider Plaintiff's untimely motion, the nearly three month filing delay was "sufficient enough to warrant the imposition of a percentage based reduction off of the total award of attorney's fees after the lodestar is calculated[, ]"[2] (id. at 18, 21.); and

The Court having determined that a percentage reduction of fees at a rate of eight and one-third percent (8frac13; %) for each month that the motion was delayed for a total percentage reduction of twenty-five percent (25%) constituted an appropriate percentage reduction to apply after the final calculation of the lodestar, (id. at 21) (citing Nat'l Amusements, Inc. v. Borough of Palmyra, No. 08-2469, 2010 WL 3199880, at *1, 4) (D.N.J. Aug. 12, 2010) (finding a twelve month delay warranted complete denial of a motion for attorney's fees); and

The Court having further found that Plaintiff was not entitled to fees for six hours of work expended preparing Plaintiff's original motion and Plaintiff's reply papers given that these submissions were made in such an untimely manner and a perfunctory form, (Op. [Doc. No. 41] 21-22, Nov. 26, 2013); and

The Court having also found that, in accordance with the Community Legal Services of Philadelphia Fee Schedule, Mr. Vullings would be compensated at an hourly rate of $250, and that Mr. Warren would be compensated at an hourly rate of $260, given their total years of experience, respectively, (id. at 24-25);[3] and

The Court having made explicit, detailed findings that certain reductions in the amount of hours billed were necessary with respect to time entries that were either: (1) unreasonable and unnecessary; (2) administrative in nature; and (3) related to travel, (see Op. [Doc. No. 41] 25-40, Nov. 26, 2013);[4] and

The Court having determined that many of the time entries challenged by Defendant were unreasonable in length, warranting a total reduction of 9.32 hours for entries that were categorized as unreasonable and unnecessary, (id. at 26-33); and

The Court having also determined that six specific time entries billed for tasks that were administrative, rather than legal, in nature thus warranting a total reduction of another 0.9 hours, (id. at 33-35); and

The Court having further determined that for time entries that also billed for travel, Mr. Vullings would be compensated for travel at a rate of $125 per hour and Mr. Warren at a rate of $130 per hour - a fifty percent (50%) reduction in their reasonably hourly rates, consistent with the practice in this vicinage that the hourly rate is typically reduced by fifty percent if the attorney did not perform any legal tasks while traveling, (id. at 38-39); and

The Court finding that there were three travel time entries in the respective amounts of 1.3 hours, 4.5 hours, and 2.5 hours, which would be compensated at a fifty percent reduced rate, (id. at 39-40); but

The Court having been unable to conduct a final calculation of the lodestar at the time the November 26, 2013 Opinion was entered because Plaintiff's original motion contained several deficiencies that did not comply with the Local Rules, including Plaintiff's failure to adequately attribute each of the 45 time ...


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