United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
BILL JONES, ET AL.
NEW ORLEANS REGIONAL PHYSICIAN HOSPITAL ORGANIZATION, ET AL.
M. DOUGLAS UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
the Court is the Motion to Fix Attorneys' Fees Pursuant
to the August 29, 2019 Order [Doc. #98] filed by defendant
New Orleans Regional Physician Hospital Organization
(“Peoples Health”). Plaintiffs have filed no
opposition to the motion. Having reviewed the pleadings and
the case law, the Court rules as follows.
motion arises in a lawsuit under the Fair Labor Standards Act
(“FLSA”). Plaintiffs allege that Peoples Health
misclassified them as exempt and seek to recover overtime
pay, liquidated damages, and attorneys' fees.
Health served discovery requests on plaintiffs that sought
production of bank checking accounts and credit card
statements for specified periods during which plaintiffs
claim they worked overtime. Plaintiffs objected to the
request, and Peoples Health filed a motion to compel. [Doc.
#66]. On July 16, 2019, this Court granted the motion as
unopposed and ordered plaintiffs to produce the documents
within ten days of the date of the order. [Doc. #74].
failed to comply with this Court's order, necessitating
the filing of a motion for contempt [Doc. #80]. The motion
again sought production of the records and also sanctions
against plaintiffs for failure to comply with this
Court's order on the motion to compel. Plaintiffs filed
an opposition, improperly asking the Court to reconsider its
earlier order. [Doc. #87]. On August 29, 2019, this Court
granted in part the motion for contempt, again ordering
plaintiffs to produce the requested documents and awarding
Peoples Health its “attorneys' fees and costs for
the pleadings that they have filed to seek the relief that it
requires.” [Doc. 95 at p. 4].
motion, Peoples Health maintains that to this date,
plaintiffs have yet to produce the requested
documents. Peoples Health thus seeks $3, 384.50 in
attorneys' fees and costs expended on the motion to
compel and the motion for contempt that it was forced to file
given plaintiffs' failure to comply with their discovery
November 26, 2019, the District Court granted summary
judgment in this lawsuit to Peoples Health [Doc. #107] and
entered judgment in its favor the following day. [Doc. #108].
That judgment, however, does not divest this Court of this
ancillary motion for attorneys' fees. Kira, Inc. v.
All Star Maint., Inc., 294 Fed.Appx. 139, 141 (5th Cir.
2008) (citing Creations Unlimited, Inc. v. McCain,
112 F.3d 814, 816-17 (5th Cir. 1997) (“A district court
has jurisdiction to rule on a motion for ancillary
attorneys' fees even after the filing of a notice of
appeal with respect to the underlying claims”)).
Law and Analysis
United States Supreme Court and the Fifth Circuit have
oft-repeated that a request for attorneys' fees should
not spawn major ancillary litigation. Hensley v.
Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 437 (1983); Associated
Builders & Contractors of La., Inc. v. Orleans Parish
School Bd., 919 F.2d 374, 379 (5th Cir. 1990). A
court's discretion in fashioning a reasonable
attorney's fee is broad and reviewable only for an abuse
of discretion, i.e., it will not be reversed unless
there is strong evidence that it is excessive or inadequate,
or the amount chosen is clearly erroneous. Hopwood v.
State of Tex., 236 F.3d 256, 277, n.79 (5th Cir. 2000);
Hensley, 461 U.S. at 436-37.
determine a reasonable fee, the court must provide a concise
but clear explanation of its reasons for the fee award,
making subsidiary factual determinations regarding whether
the requested hourly rate is reasonable, and whether the
tasks reported by counsel were duplicative, unnecessary, or
unrelated to the purposes of the lawsuit. Hensley,
461 U.S. at 437-39; Associated Builders &
Contractors, 919 F.2d at 379. The Fifth Circuit has
noted that its “concern is not that a complete litany
be given, but that the findings be complete enough to assume
a review which can determine whether the court has used
proper factual criteria in exercising its discretion to fix
just compensation.” Brantley v. Surles, 804
F.2d 321, 325-26 (5th Cir. 1986).
assessing the reasonableness of attorneys' fees, the
court must first determine the "lodestar" by
multiplying the reasonable number of hours expended and the
reasonable hourly rate for each participating attorney.
See Hensley, 461 U.S. at 433; Green v.
Administrators of the Tulane Educ. Fund, 284 F.3d 642,
661 (5th Cir. 2002); Migis v. Pearle Vision, Inc.,
135 F.2d 1041, 1047 (5th Cir. 1998); La. Power &
Light Co. v. Kellstrom, 50 F.3d 319, 324 (5th Cir.
1995). The fee applicant bears the burden of proof on this
issue. Se ...