United States District Court, D. Rhode Island
J. MCCONNELL, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
receiving a successful jury verdict totaling $806,
in this Title VII matter, Plaintiff Lori Franchina's
attorneys filed a Motion to Award Attorney's Fees and
Costs. ECF No. 102. They request a total of $233, 643.50 in
fees and $7, 838.58 in costs. Defendant City of Providence
objects to portions of the request and asks the Court award
no more than $108, 576 in attorney's fees and $4, 207.98
in costs. ECF No. 109.
initial matter, having presided over this litigation for more
than four years, this Court finds that the attorneys involved
on both sides litigated a difficult and extremely complex
case both legally and factually and did so with the highest
level of professionalism, skill, and competence. They all
earned the Court's admiration. After reviewing Ms.
Franchina's motion and accompanying affidavits and the
City's objections, her motion is GRANTED IN PART AND
DENIED IN PART.
prevailing plaintiff is entitled to the recovery of
attorney's fees under Title VII. Fontanillas-Lopez v.
Morell Bauza Cartagena & Dapena, LLC., 832 F.3d 50,
59 (1st Cir. 2016) ("Title VII, . . .expressly
provid[es] that "[i]n any action or proceeding under
[Title VII] the court, in its discretion, may allow the
prevailing party ... a reasonable attorney's fee
(including expert fees) as part of the costs." 42 U.S.C.
§ 2000e-5(k)). Both parties agree that the Court should
use the Lodestar method for calculating the fees and that Ms.
Franchina is a prevailing party. The Court will deal with the
City's objections seriatim:
Hours Productively Expended:
Hours spent drafting the Complaint: The Court finds that
spending a combined six hours in drafting the complaint was
not excessive, as the pleading in this case was complicated.
Hours spent responding to the 12(b)(6) motions: The fact
that Ms. Franchina did not prevail on any particular motion
is not a basis for eliminating the hours spent if she
otherwise prevails at trial. None of the matters presented or
opposed by any party were frivolous or improperly litigated.
The matters were "sufficiently interconnected with the
causes of action upon which [she] prevailed" such that
the Court finds these hours are appropriately reimbursed.
Lipsett v. Blanco, 975 F.2d 934, 940 (1st Cir.
Hours spent on discovery: The Court sees no reason, and
there is no evidence before it, to support eliminating the
hours Ms. Franchina's attorneys spent on discovery
matters. Ms. Franchina has properly sustained her evidentiary
burden by demonstrating to the Court that these hours were
reasonable, d. Hours spent on unsuccessful Motion to
Reconsider: The fact that Ms. Franchina did not prevail
on a particular motion is not a basis for eliminating the
hours spent if she otherwise prevails at trial. The matters
were "sufficiently interconnected with the causes of
action upon which [she] prevailed" such that the Court
finds these hours are appropriately reimbursed. Id.
Hours spent on Motions in Limine: The Court does not
find that the hours Ms. Franchina's attorneys spent to be
duplicative. Moreover, the time entries and verifications of
hours were sufficient to support the claim for these fees.
Hours spent on Motion for Judgment as a Matter of
Law: The City's post-trial motions were extensive,
complicated, and well pled. It is reasonable for Ms.
Franchina's attorneys to have spent 47 hours preparing
their successful response to the motions.
Attorney Braga's duplicative time: The Court sees no
reason, and there is no evidence before it, to support the
City's contention that these hours were duplicative.
Other miscellaneous issues: The City presents no basis
for the exclusion of these hours.
Reasonable Hourly Rates:
City objects to Ms. Franchina's attorneys' hourly
rates! to wit, $350 for John T. Martin (after July 1, 2014
when he changed firms) and $250 before that date; $300 for
Benjamin H. Duggan; and $225 for Kevin P. Braga. The City
claims that it is inappropriate to use out-of-state rates,
that the rates are higher than local Rhode ...