Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Judge Ryskamp Affirmed In Reducing FLSA Attorney's Fee Request


Boy oh boy, posts about two of my favorite subjects all in one day.

I know -- going to the well.

So you guys remember the time Judge Ryskamp slashed fees in a FLSA case by 60 percent because of excessive requests for extension of time to respond to discovery?

You're right, let me be more specific:
The Court is concerned, however, that the total number of hours claimed, 547.5, is unreasonable. Plaintiffs filed an extraordinary number of motions for extensions of time in this matter. Indeed, on August 16, 2007, the number of extensions requested from Plaintiffs became so excessive that the Court barred Plaintiffs from seeking any further extensions. The extensions were largely filed because Plaintiffs struggled with responding to discovery requests in a timely manner. Plaintiffs’ counsel billed for time spent requesting these extensions. Defendant cannot be expected to bear the financial burden for Plaintiffs’ counsel’s inability to comply with discovery deadlines. Plaintiffs' dilatory conduct reached the point Defendant was forced to file a Motion to Compel Discovery and Deem Facts Admitted. Plaintiffs' counsel also spent several hours drafting an opposition to Defendant’s motion for rehearing regarding the motion to amend the complaint. Defendant filed a motion for rehearing due to a clerical error on the part of the Court: the Court initially granted the motion to amend because it failed to note that Defendant had filed an opposition to same. It was plain from the docket that the order granting the motion to amend was premised on the administrative error, but Plaintiffs nonetheless opposed the motion for rehearing. Plaintiffs have also submitted fees in a relation to a summary judgment motion, but Plaintiffs never moved for summary judgment in this matter. The hours spent researching and preparing this motion are not compensable because they had no effect on the outcome of this matter.

This litigation was not complicated. Litigation of this matter consisted largely of responding to discovery requests, examining the applicability of potential defenses and negotiating settlements. Although this matter involved 11 Plaintiffs, FLSA cases frequently have multiple plaintiffs. The larger number of plaintiffs in this matter did not alter the legal complexity of this case: this case boiled down to a question of numbers – the amount of additional compensation to which Plaintiffs were entitled. The legal questions presented in this case were not difficult or novel. The motions practice was virtually nonexistent; there was no motion to dismiss, nor was there was there a motion for summary judgment. The Court therefore applies a 60% reduction to the number of hours each counselor or paralegal claimed in this matter, reducing the number of hours claimed from 547.5 to 219.
Ouch.

The Judge also denied any discovery into what defense counsel billed in defending the case and also any time spent trying to get at those figures. He even bounced as unsubstantiated a request for travel expenses to take two depos in Tampa, even though no one disputes the depos were taken. Maybe they used a teleporter to get there?

So plaintiffs' counsel -- the lovely and talented Melanie Damian and the not especially lovely but also talented Tim Schranck (I hope I spelled it right this time, Tim!) -- took it up, and in an order today the 11th affirmed, and included this cryptic statement:
Finally, we conclude appellants’ claim of bias is meritless.
First of all, sorry about the hit, fellas.

Second -- anyone know what that last line is about?

8 comments:

  1. Yeah. Its about Ryskamp being completely off his rocker and acting like a dictator from teh bench and basically ignoring the law and doing whatever the damn well he pleases.

    Sucks the 11th is not cluing in that it is time for the old coot to go. He's like Ronnie the last year and half of his presidency, eating baby food and hiding in the white house except for recess.

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  2. nice 4:45. Still think SFL is Valori.

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  3. SFL, you need to convene a panel to discuss this. I suggest Damian, Chris Carver and Scott Diamond.

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  4. 4:47 : have you ever TALKED WITH Peter Valori? I like the dude. He is a serious and good lawyer. But, ah, humor? Wit? Subtlety? No.

    Melanie looks so...curious, doesn't she?

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  5. "Defendant cannot be expected to bear the financial burden for Plaintiffs’ counsel’s inability to comply with discovery deadlines."

    As quoted from the movie "Road Trip", "Oh, that's nice." And remember to insert a sarcastic tone.

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  6. A veritable "taint team"!

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  7. "Taint team" sounds dirty

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  8. I also don't like "Taint team". They are dirty.

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