Submitted Under Third Circuit L.A.R. 34.1(a) June 18, 2018
from the United States District Court for the Middle District
of Pennsylvania (D.C. Civ. Action No. 3-13-cv-02447) District
Judge: Honorable Malachy E. Mannion
C. Haggerty Haggerty Goldberg Schleifer & Kupersmith
Michael R. Mey Mey & Sulla Michael J. Pisanchyn Pisanchyn
Law Firm Counsel for Appellants
Charles E. Haddick, Jr. Dickie McCamey & Chilcote Counsel
Before: GREENAWAY, JR., RESTREPO, and BIBAS, Circuit Judges.
GREENAWAY, JR., CIRCUIT JUDGE.
jury awarded him $100, 000 in punitive damages under the
Pennsylvania Bad Faith Statute, 42 Pa. Cons. Stat. §
8371, Appellant Bernie Clemens submitted a petition for over
$900, 000 in attorney's fees from Appellee New York
Central Mutual Fire Insurance Company ("NYCM"). The
District Court denied this petition in its entirety,
reasoning that it was not adequately supported and that the
requested amount was grossly excessive given the nature of
the case. Finding no abuse of discretion, we will affirm and,
in doing so, take the opportunity to formally endorse a view
already adopted by several other circuits-that is, where a
fee-shifting statute provides a court discretion to award
attorney's fees, such discretion includes the ability to
deny a fee request altogether when, under the circumstances,
the amount requested is "outrageously excessive."
Brown v. Stackler, 612 F.2d 1057, 1059 (7th Cir.
1980); see also, e.g., Envtl. Def. Fund, Inc. v.
Reilly, 1 F.3d 1254, 1258-60 (D.C. Cir. 1993); Fair
Hous. Council of Greater Wash. v. Landow, 999 F.2d 92,
97 (4th Cir. 1993); Lewis v. Kendrick, 944 F.2d 949,
956-58 (1st Cir. 1991).
with NYCM's handling of his insurance claim related to a
serious car accident, Clemens filed suit against the company
in the Court of Common Pleas of Monroe County, asserting a
contractual underinsured motorist ("UIM") claim and
a claim under the Bad Faith Statute, 42 Pa. Cons. Stat.
§ 8371. After NYCM removed the case to federal court,
the parties settled the UIM claim for $25, 000. The bad faith
claim, meanwhile, proceeded to a week-long trial, at the
conclusion of which a jury found that NYCM had acted in bad
faith in its handling of the insurance claim and awarded
Clemens $100, 000 in punitive damages.
prevailing party under the Bad Faith Statute, Clemens then
submitted a petition for attorney's fees, in which he
requested an award of $946, 526.43 in fees and
costs. The District Court denied this request in
its entirety, however. In a thorough and well-reasoned
one-hundred-page opinion, the court reviewed every time entry
submitted, performed a traditional lodestar analysis, and
concluded that eighty-seven percent of the hours billed had
to be disallowed as vague, duplicative, unnecessary, or
inadequately supported by documentary evidence. In light of
that substantial reduction, the District Court deemed
Clemens's request "outrageously excessive" and
exercised its discretion to award no fee whatsoever. App.
649. Represented by new counsel, Clemens now
District Court had jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. §
1332(a), and we have jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. §