United States District Court, D. Maryland
Richard D. Bennett United States District Judge
pending is Plaintiffs' Motion for Attorneys' Fees and
Costs (ECF No. 142). The parties' submissions have been
reviewed, and no hearing is necessary. See Local
Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). For the reasons that follow,
Plaintiffs' Motion (ECF No. 142) is GRANTED in the amount
of $232, 340 in attorneys fees and $8, 381.05 in costs and
expenses, for a total award of $240, 721.05.
Sean Jackson (“S. Jackson”), Craig Koehler, Jr.
(“Koehler”), Russell Jackson (“R.
Jackson”), Dawn Dorsey (“Dorsey”), Emily
Wisniewski (“Wisniewski”), Jeremy Hewitt
(“Hewitt”), and Casey Ann Diven
“Plaintiffs”) brought this action against
Defendants Egira, LLC (“Egira”), Anastasia
Vasilakopoulos (“Mrs. Vasilakopoulos”), Vasilios
“Bill” Vasilakopoulos (“Bill”), and
Konstantinos “Gus” Vasilakopoulos
(“Gus”) (collectively, “Defendants”)
alleging violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act
(“FLSA”), 29 U.S.C. §§ 201, et
seq., the Maryland Wage and Hour Law
(“MWHL”), Md. Code Ann., Lab. & Empl.
§§ 3-401, et seq., and the Maryland Wage
Payment and Collection Law (“MWPCL”), Md. Code
Ann., Lab. & Empl. §§ 3-501, et seq.
Plaintiffs, all former servers at the Speakeasy Saloon and
Dining House (“Speakeasy”), a restaurant owned
and operated by Defendant Egira, claimed that they were
denied minimum wages and/or overtime compensation in
violation of federal and state law. Following a four-day jury
trial in this Court, a jury awarded the Plaintiffs three
times the unpaid minimum wage under the MWPCL and unpaid
overtime under the FLSA.
this action was initiated over two years ago, the Defendants
have consistently impeaded Plaintiffs' prosecution of
this case. Defendants initially failed to answer the
collective action Complaint, did not initially respond to
this Court's Order that they identify servers who had
worked at Speakeasy, and only complied with that Order after
Plaintiffs' counsel filed a Motion requiring them to show
cause as to why they should not be held in contempt. Even
then, Defendants failed to disclose all employees, including
some of the Plaintiffs in this action. The Defendants then
proceeded to raise unfounded “jurisdictional”
defenses by misrepresenting the size and scope of their
operations and obstructed discovery efforts. Furthermore, the
Defendants delayed admitting important issues, such as
Speakeasy's status as an enterprise covered by the FLSA
and the indidivual liability of Gus and Anastasia
Vasilakopoulos as FLSA employers. Ultimately, the original
counsel for the Defendants filed a Motion to Withdraw (ECF
No. 57) in light of difficulties in procuring the
Defendants' cooperation. This Court denied that Motion
(ECF No. 89) and required prior defense counsel to remain in
this case until present counsel entered their appearance in
May of 2016. These actions by Defendants forced Plaintiffs to
expend significant time, energy, and unnecessary expense.
the pendency of this litigation, Plaintiffs relied on the
legal services of two attorneys, Bradford W. Warbasse and
Howard B. Hoffman. The Plaintiffs now seek compensation for
the time that these lawyers spent prosecuting this case and
costs incurred. Mot., p. 5, ECF No. 142. In addition, the
Plaintiffs have filed a Supplemental Request for
Attorneys' Fees (ECF No. 146), with respect to additional
time and expense incurred in preparation of a Reply to
Defendants' Opposition to the pending Motion for
Attorneys' Fees and Costs (ECF No. 142).
action brought under the Fair Labor Standards Act
(“FLSA”), 29 U.S.C. §§ 201, et
seq., “[t]he court in such action shall, in
addition to any judgment awarded to the plaintiff or
plaintiffs, allow a reasonable attorney's fee to be paid
by the defendant, and costs of the action.” 29 U.S.C.
§ 216(b). While the payment of attorney's fees and
costs to the plaintiff is mandatory, “[t]he amount of
the attorney's fees . . . is within the sound discretion
of the trial court.” Burnley v. Short, 730
F.2d 136, 141 (4th Cir. 1984).
calculation of a reasonable fee award, or lodestar award, is
reached by multiplying the reasonable hours expended by a
reasonable hourly rate. In assessing the reasonableness of
the hours and rate claimed, the court considers the following
twelve factors, known as the Johnson factors:
(1) the time and labor expended; (2) the novelty and
difficulty of the questions raised; (3) the skill required to
properly perform the legal services rendered; (4) the
attorney's opportunity costs in pressing the instant
litigation; (5) the customary fee for like work; (6) the
attorney's expectations at the outset of the litigation;
(7) the time limitations imposed by the client or
circumstances; (8) the amount in controversy and the results
obtained; (9) the experience, reputation and ability of the
attorney; (10) the undesirability of the case within the
legal community in which the suit arose; (11) the nature and
length of the professional relationship between attorney and
client; and (12) attorneys' fees awards in similar cases.
Spell v. McDaniel, 824 F.2d 1380, 1402 n.18 (4th
Cir. 1987) (citing Johnson v. Georgia Highway
Express, Inc., 488 F.2d 714, 717-19 (5th Cir.1974));
Rum Creek Coal Sales, Inc. v. Caperton, 31 F.3d 169,
174 (4th Cir. 1994).
Plaintiffs seek attorneys' fees in the amount of $241,
973.75. Mot., p. 8, ECF No. 142. This represents 204.7 hours
billed at a rate of $425 per hour as to Mr. Warbasse, for a
total of $86, 997.50, and 364.65 hours billed at a rate of
$425 per hour for Mr. Hoffman, for a total of $154, 976.25.
The Plaintifs have since supplemented that request, seeking
an additional 1.5 hours for Mr. Warbasse at a rate of $425
per hour and 21.8 hours for Mr. Hoffman at a rate of $425 per
hour. See Supp. Request, ECF No. 146.
discussed infra, a weighing of the Johnson
factors suggests that the hours requested by Plaintiffs in
their initial petition are reasonable under the circumstances
of this case. However, this Court will only allow 1.5 hours
of supplemental compensation for Mr. Warbasse and 10.0 hours
for Mr. Hoffman with respect to the additional time spent in
preparation of Plaintiffs' Reply brief. Furthermore, this
Court finds ...