United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
JOSE CASTELLANOS, ET. AL.
SAINTS & SANTOS CONSTRUCTION, LLC, ET. AL.
ORDER & REASONS
the Court are plaintiffs' Motion for Attorneys' Fees
(Rec. Doc. 186), defendants' Opposition (Rec. Doc. 187),
and Plaintiffs' Reply (Rec. Doc. 192), plaintiffs'
Bill of Costs (Rec. Doc. 190), defendants' Opposition to
plaintiffs' Bill of Costs (Rec. Doc. 193), and Clerk of
Court Reasons for Taxation of Costs (Rec. Doc. 196). For the
reasons below, IT IS ORDERED that
plaintiffs' motion for attorneys' fees and bill of
costs are GRANTED IN PART and DENIED
FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
a collective action to recover unpaid overtime wages.
See Rec. Doc. 1 at 1. Specifically, plaintiff Jose
Castellanos brought this action on behalf of himself and
others similarly situated to recover unpaid overtime wages
from Defendants Saints & Santos Construction, LLC and
Wiliomar Oliveira. See id. Plaintiffs also sought to
recover interest, liquidated damages, and attorneys' fees
and costs. See id.
three months after bringing this action and upon correcting a
deficient filing, plaintiffs sought and were granted leave to
amend their Complaint to add another company as a defendant.
See Rec. Docs. 9, 11, 12, 13, 14. Plaintiffs later
amended the Complaint a second time to add another company as
a defendant. See Rec. Docs. 42, 44. It is important
to note that several named defendants and claims of several
plaintiffs were dismissed from the case. See Rec.
Docs. 24, 90, 93, 128, 168, 169, 181.
2017, after hearing oral argument, plaintiffs' motion for
class certification was granted. See Rec. Doc. 129.
The parties were instructed to confer and submit a joint
proposed class notice. After coming to an agreement and with
court approval, the class notice was sent out and an
additional 16 former employees returned their consent form
bringing the total number of plaintiffs to 27. As noted
earlier, several plaintiffs were later dismissed from the
January 10, 2018, the parties jointly reached an agreement on
the amount of unpaid overtime wages due with the 17 remaining
plaintiffs. However, the parties were unable to resolve
whether plaintiffs were entitled to liquidated damages and
attorneys' fees. After further briefings from all
parties, an opinion was issued awarding $14, 878.64 for
unpaid overtime and $7, 439.32 in liquidated damages, with
fees and costs to be determined. See Rec. Docs. 179,
184. Thereafter, plaintiffs filed a motion for attorney's
fees. See Rec. Doc. 186. Defendants filed a timely
response in opposition, wherein they also sought fees on
prevailing defenses. See Rec. Doc. 187. Plaintiffs
replied. See Rec. Doc. 192.
contend that, pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act
(“FLSA”), they are entitled to attorneys'
fees in the amount of $59, 010.00 for 201.2 hours of attorney
time. See Rec. Doc. 186-1. Plaintiffs argue that
they are the prevailing parties in this case because the
Court issued a judgment in their favor, entitling them to
unpaid overtime wages and liquidated damages. See
id. at 8 citing Judgment at Rec. Doc. 185. They further
argue the reasonableness of claimed hourly rates and hours,
contending no further adjustment of fees is warranted as
counsel exercised billing judgment throughout the litigation.
Plaintiffs did not document their costs in the instant
oppose the amount of attorneys' fees that plaintiffs
seek, contending an across-the-board reduction is warranted.
See Rec. Doc. 187-2 at 1. Specifically, defendants
argue some fees are associated with claims involving
eventually-dismissed defendants and eventually-dismissed
putative class members. See id. at 3-5. Defendants
also argue that they are entitled to attorneys' fees to
recover costs expended in litigating against plaintiffs that
were eventually dismissed. See id. at 4 (stating
they were the prevailing parties as to claims made by
plaintiffs who were eventually dismissed).
LAW AND ANALYSIS
FLSA Fee Shifting
1938, Congress enacted the FLSA to protect the laboring
public from unfair labor practices. See 29 U.S.C.
§ 202. Pursuant to the FLSA, courts shall “allow a
reasonable attorney's fee to be paid by the
defendant, and costs of the action” when a
judgment is awarded to the plaintiff. 29 U.S.C. § 216(b)
(Emphasis added). Judgment was entered in favor of
plaintiffs. See Rec. Doc. 185. Therefore, plaintiffs
are entitled to reasonable attorneys' fees and costs to
be paid by defendants to plaintiffs. See e.g., Buckhannon
Bd. & Care Home, Inc. v. W. Virginia Dep't of Health
& Human Res., 532 U.S. 598, 604 (2001)
(“[E]nforceable judgments on the merits and
court-ordered consent decrees create the “material
alteration of the legal relationship of the parties”
necessary to permit an award of attorney's fees.”).
However, it remains for this Court to determine what fees and
costs, if any, are reasonable. Defendants offer no authority
under FLSA for recovery of defense fees.
Calculation of Lodestar
in this Circuit use the lodestar method for determining an
appropriate attorney fee award under the FLSA. See Saizan
v. Delta Concrete Products Co., Inc., 448 F.3d 795, 799
(5th Cir. 2006). The lodestar method consists of two steps.
See Louisiana Power & Light Co. v. Kellstrom, 50
F.3d 319, 324 (5th Cir. 1995). The first step is to determine
the reasonable number of hours expended on the litigation and
the reasonable hourly rates for the participating attorneys.
See Id. The second step is to multiply the
determined hours by the determined rate. See Id. The
resulting product is the lodestar. See id.
lodestar may be accepted as is or adjusted. See Johnson
v. Georgia Highway Exp., 488 F.2d 714, 717-19 (5th Cir.
1974). There are twelve factors to consider in establishing
whether to accept or adjust the lodestar. See Id.
Those twelve factors are:
(1) the time and labor involved; (2) the novelty and
difficulty of the questions involved; (3) the skill requisite
to perform the legal services properly; (4) the preclusion of
other employment by the attorney due to this case; (5) the
customary fee; (6) whether the fee is fixed or contingent;
(7) time limitations; (8) the amount involved and results
obtained; (9) the experience, reputation. And ability of
counsel; (10) the undesirability of the case; (11) the nature
and length of the proceedings; and (12) awards in similar
cases. See id.
“to the extent that any Johnson factors are
subsumed in the lodestar, they should not be reconsidered
when determining whether an adjustment to the lodestar is
required.” Migis ...