United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin
DECISION AND ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF BLEMBERG'S
MOTION FOR ATTORNEYS' FEES
WILLIAM C. GRIESBACH, CHIEF JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT
Eric Blemberg and Codie Sommers commenced this Fair Labor
Standards Act (FLSA) and Wisconsin Wage Payment and
Collection Law (WWPCL) action against Defendants ARC Fire
Protection LLC and Keith E. Garot on April 23, 2018. On
February 1, 2019, the court granted Plaintiffs' motion
for summary judgment and found Blemberg was entitled to
judgment in the amount of $24, 649.00 plus an award of
reasonable attorneys' fees and costs. Presently before
the court is Blemberg's motion for attorneys' fees
and costs in the amount of $19, 164.17. To date, Defendants
have not filed a response to the motion. For the following
reasons, Blemberg's motion will be granted.
FLSA allows “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). A district
court calculates attorneys' fees using the
“lodestar” method: “the number of hours
that any attorney worked on the case multiplied by a
reasonable hourly rate.” Jeffboat, LLC v. Director,
Office of Workers' Compensation Programs, 553 F.3d
487, 489 (7th Cir. 2009) (citing Hensley v.
Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 433 (1983); Mathur v. Bd.
of Trs. of S. Ill. Univ., 317 F.3d 738, 742 (7th Cir.
2003)). “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.'”
Gastineau v. Wright, 592 F.3d 747, 748 (7th Cir.
2010) (quoting Schlacher v. Law Offices of Phillip J.
Rotche & Assocs., 574 F.3d 852, 856-57 (7th Cir.
2009)). “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).
requests an hourly rate of $350.00 for Attorneys Scott S.
Luzi and David M. Potteiger of Walcheske & Luzi, LLC. 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 Chi., 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 hourly rate requested
for Attorneys Luzi and Potteiger in similar cases. See,
e.g., Kapellusch v. Bold Salons LLC, No.
2018-cv-843 (E.D. Wis. Jan. 31, 2019); Gerlach
v. West Revenue Generation Servs., No. 2018-cv-170
(E.D. Wis. Jan. 3, 2019); Rabetski v. Century Oaks of
Appleton, Inc., No. 2017-cv-1453 (E.D. Wis. June 5,
2018). To support the requested fees, Blemberg also submitted
a declaration from Attorney Robert M. Mihelich demonstrating
that the rate requested is in line with what is normally
charged for similar services by other practitioners.
See Mihelich Decl., ECF No. 33. The court finds that
Blemberg has met his burden to establish that the requested
rate is reasonable.
seeks an award based on 54.2 hours of billable time
litigating the merits of the matter and preparing the
attorneys' fees motion. After reviewing the itemized
statements provided by Blemberg detailing the work performed
and the amount of time billed for each task, the court finds
that the number of hours expended on this case was
concluded that the loadstar in this action is $18, 970.00
(the hourly rate times the number of hours worked), the court
must now consider whether that amount should be adjusted
based on a number of factors. See Hensley, 461 U.S.
at 433-34. “[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) (internal
quotation marks and citation omitted). In this case, the
efforts of Blemberg's counsel resulted in a total award
for Blemberg of $24, 649.00. While the amount of
attorneys' fees may appear disproportionate to
Blemberg's award, the Seventh Circuit has “rejected
the notion that the fees must be calculated proportionately
to damages.” Anderson v. AB Painting &
Sandblasting, Inc., 578 F.3d 542, 545 (7th Cir. 2009)
(internal quotation marks and citation omitted). In addition,
Defendants' failure to submit a response to the motion is
“sufficient cause for the Court to grant the
motion.” Civil L.R. 7(d) (E.D. Wis.). Based on the
degree of success obtained in this case as well as the
absence of any opposition by Defendants, the court finds no
reason to adjust the lodestar amount.
these reasons, Blemberg's motion for attorneys' fees
and costs (ECF No. 29) is GRANTED. Blemberg
is awarded $18, 970.00 in fees and $194.17 in costs.