United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin
ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR
William C. Griesbach, Chief Judge United States District
Emily Kapellusch commenced this Fair Labor Standards Act
(FLSA) and Wisconsin Wage Payment and Collection Law (WWPCL)
action against Defendants Bold Salons LLC and Abigail Faith
Kuehl on June 4, 2018. On December 6, 2018, the court
approved the parties' proposed settlement agreement.
Currently before the court is Kapellusch's motion for an
award of attorneys' fees and costs. To date, Defendants
have not filed a response to Kapellusch's motion. For the
reasons that follow, Kapellusch's motion will be granted.
the FLSA, the court shall “allow a reasonable
attorney's fee to be paid by the defendant, and costs of
the action” to a successful plaintiff. 29 U.S.C. §
216(b). “The touchstone for a district court's
calculation of attorney's fees is the lodestar method,
which is calculated by multiplying a reasonable hourly rate
by the number of hours reasonably expended.”
Gastineau v. Wright, 592 F.3d 747, 748 (7th Cir.
2010) (citing Schlacher v. Law Offices of Phillip J.
Rotche & Assocs., 574 F.3d 852, 856 (7th Cir.
2009)). “If necessary, the district court has the
flexibility to ‘adjust that figure to reflect various
factors including the complexity of the legal issues
involved, the degree of success obtained, and the public
interest advanced by the litigation.'” Id.
(quoting Schlacher, 574 F.3d at 856-57). “The
standard is whether the fees are reasonable in relation to
the difficulty, stakes, and outcome of the case.”
Connolly v. Nat'l Sch. Bus. Serv., Inc., 177
F.3d 593, 597 (7th Cir. 1999). The party seeking the fee
bears the burden of “produc[ing] satisfactory
evidence-in addition to the attorney's own
affidavits-that the requested rate[s] are in line with those
prevailing in the community.” Id. Once this
burden is satisfied, the burden shifts to the other party to
offer evidence that sets forth “a good reason why a
lower rate is essential.” Id. (internal
quotation marks and citations omitted). There is a
“strong presumption that the lodestar represents the
reasonable fee.” City of Burlington v. Dague,
505 U.S. 557, 562 (1992) (internal quotation marks omitted);
Pickett v. Sheridan Health Care Ctr., 664 F.3d 632,
639 (7th Cir. 2011).
noted above, the lodestar analysis involves determining a
reasonable hourly rate, the reasonable number of hours which
should have been expended litigating the claims at issue, and
then multiplying the two to determine the lodestar. The
lodestar may then be adjusted for various reasons.
Reasonable Hourly Rate
are requesting an hourly rate of $350.00 for Attorney Scott
S. Luzi. An attorney's reasonable hourly rate is
“derived from the market rate for the services
rendered.” Pickett, 664 F.3d at 640. The
market rate is “‘the rate that lawyers of similar
ability and experience in the community normally charge their
paying clients for the type of work in question.'”
Spegon v. Catholic Bishop of Chicago, 175 F.3d 544,
555 (7th Cir. 1999) (quoting Bankston v. State of
Illinois, 60 F.3d 1249, 1256 (7th Cir. 1995)). Courts,
including this court, have approved the requested rate for
Attorney Luzi in similar cases, Tabetha Rabetski v.
Century Oaks of Appleton, Inc., No. 2017-cv-1453 (E.D.
Wis. Wis. June 5, 2018); Gibbs v. Sasta Bazaar,
Inc., No. 17-cv-1268-pp, 2018 WL 2012921, at *2 (E.D.
Wis. Apr. 30, 2018), and the submitted declarations show that
the requested rate is in line with that normally charged for
similar services by experienced attorneys. Johnson Decl., ECF
No. 21 at ¶ 7; Mihelich Decl., ECF No. 22 at ¶ 7.
Consequently, the court finds that Kapellusch has met her
burden and that the requested rate is reasonable.
Reasonable Number of Hours Billed
is seeking an award based on 27.30 hours of billable work.
Upon the review of the categorical breakdown included in
Kapellusch's brief of how the time was spent, ECF No. 19
at 3-4, 10, and the itemized statement that provided a
detailed breakdown of the hours worked, ECF No. 20-4, the
court finds that 27.30 hours is a reasonable amount of hours
for this case. Accordingly, the lodestar amount is $9, 555.00
($350.00 x 26.30 hours).
Adjustment of the Lodestar
concluded that the lodestar in this action is $9, 205.00
based upon the hourly rates and number of hours worked, the
court must now consider whether this amount should be
adjusted upon “various factors including the complexity
of the legal issues involved, the degree of success obtained,
and the public interest advanced by the litigation.”
Schlacher, 574 F.3d at 856-57. “‘[T]he
most critical factor in determining the reasonableness of the
award is the degree of success obtained.'”
Zagorski v. Midwest Billing Servs., Inc., 128 F.3d
1164, 1166 (7th Cir. 1997) (quoting Farar, 506 US.
at 114) (internal quotation marks omitted) (per curiam).
Kapellusch's counsel's efforts resulted in a total
award of $1, 132.86 for her. While it is difficult to
determine the exact degree of success given that the parties
reached a settlement, there are no indications that
Kapellusch's award was minimal. Although the amount of
attorneys' fees may appear disproportionate to
Kapellusch's award, the Seventh Circuit has
“‘rejected the notion that the fees must be
calculated proportionally to damages.'”
Anderson v. AB Painting & Sandblasting Inc., 578
F.3d 542, 545 (7th Cir. 2009) (quoting Alexander v.
Gerhardt Enters., Inc., 40 F.3d 187, 194 (7th Cir.
1994)). “‘Given the nature of claims under the
FLSA, it is not uncommon that attornenys fee requests will
exceed the amount of the judgment in the case.'”
Heder v. City of Two Rivers, 255 F.Supp.2d 947,
955-56 (E.D. Wis. 2003) (collecting cases) (quoting
Holyfield v. F.P. Quinn & Co., No. 90 C 507,
1991 WL 65928, at *1 (N.D. Ill. Apr. 22, 1991)). Further,
Defendants failure to file a memorandum ...