United States District Court, D. Maryland
Richard D. Bennett United States District Judge.
September 6, 2017, this Court granted the parties' Joint
Motion for Approval of Settlement and entered the proposed
Consent Decree. (ECF No. 14.) The Consent Decree calls for
Plaintiff Corey Smith (“Ms. Smith” or
“Plaintiff”) to petition this Court for
attorneys' fees and costs. (Id. ¶ 12.)
Currently pending are Plaintiff's Motion for
Attorneys' Fees and Costs (ECF No. 15), in which
Plaintiff seeks reasonable attorneys' fees and costs
pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act
(“FLSA”), 29 U.S.C. § 216(b); the Maryland
Wage and Hour Law (“MWHL”), Md. Code Ann., Lab.
& Empl. § 3-427; and the Maryland Wage Payment and
Collection Law (“MWPCL”), Md. Code Ann., Lab.
& Empl. § 3-507.2, and Plaintiff's Motion to
Enforce Consent Decree and for Entry of Consent Judgment (ECF
No. 18). The parties' submissions have been reviewed, and
no hearing is necessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D.
reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's Motion for
Attorneys' Fees and Costs (ECF No. 15) is GRANTED IN
PART. Specifically, the award for attorneys' fees is
reduced to the amount of $12,
683.54. In addition to that amount, this Court
approves Plaintiffs' request for $612.64 in costs.
Plaintiff's Motion to Enforce Consent Decree and for
Entry of Consent Judgment (ECF No. 18) is DENIED AS MOOT.
Smith worked as a home care aide for the Defendant Touching
Angels Healthcare, Inc. (“Touching Angels”), a
for-profit home care agency, from December 2014 through May
2016. (Compl. ¶¶ 9, 12, ECF No. 1.) Josephine
Wamwea (“Defendant Wamwea”), one of Touching
Angels's owners, allegedly hired Ms. Smith, set her pay
rate, controlled her schedule, required her to wear scrubs
while working, and monitored the hours she worked.
(Id. ¶ 16.) Defendants allegedly misclassified
Ms. Smith as an independent contractor and failed to pay her
the requisite overtime rate. (Compl. ¶¶ 18-19.)
Defendants also allegedly failed to pay Ms. Smith for travel
time between clients' homes. (Id. ¶ 21.)
through her attorneys, David Rodwin and Sally Dworak-Fisher
of the Public Justice Center along with Christopher Ryon and
Heather Heilman of the law firm Kahn, Smith & Collins,
P.A., Ms. Smith filed this action on March 10, 2017 against
Defendants Touching Angels and Josephine Wamwea on behalf of
herself and all persons similarly situated. (See
Compl.) Ms. Smith alleged claims under the FLSA, the
MWHL, the MWPCL, and Maryland common law. Defendants filed an
answer on April 13, 2017. (ECF No. 8.) The parties proceeded
April 21, 2017, Plaintiff served a First Request for
Production of Documents on both Defendants, a First Set of
Interrogatories on Touching Angels, and a First Set of
Interrogatories on Defendant Wamwea. On May 25, 2017,
Defendants requested an extension of time until June 10,
2017, to respond to Plaintiff's discovery requests.
Plaintiff agreed. On June 9, Defendants served
Plaintiff's counsel with a Rule 68 Offer of Judgment in
the amount of $2, 000. (See Pl. Ex. D, ECF No.
16-5.) Plaintiff allowed the Offer of Judgment to lapse.
12, 2017, Defendants' counsel sent to Plaintiff's
counsel Touching Angels's Answers to Plaintiff's
First Set of Interrogatories. On the same date,
Defendants' counsel sent to Plaintiff's counsel a
three-page “earnings record” of payments
Defendants made to Plaintiff, but did not send any other
documents deemed responsive by the Plaintiff. Plaintiff sent
two letters to Defendants' counsel setting out the
deficiencies in Defendants' discovery responses.
(See Pl.'s Letter to Defs. dated 6/14/17, Pl.
Ex. E, ECF No. 16-6; Pl.'s Letter to Defs. dated 6/21/17,
Pl. Ex. F, ECF No. 16-7.) In Plaintiff's view, the
Defendants' responses constituted a failure to answer or
respond under Fed.R.Civ.P. 34(b) and Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(a).
27, 2017, Defendants' counsel sent to Plaintiff's
counsel documents that Defendants' counsel identified as
being referenced in his clients' earlier discovery
responses. On June 28, 2017, Plaintiff's counsel sent an
email to Defendants' counsel to say that these documents
were not a complete response, and asking if Defendants
intended to remedy the alleged failure. Defendants'
counsel did not respond to the email. (Mem. 4.)
11, 2017, Plaintiff served Defendants with a Motion to
Compel. (Pl. Ex. G, ECF No. 16-8.) The parties then began to
engage in settlement discussions, which culminated in a
Consent Decree obligating Defendants to pay Ms. Smith $4,
000-the maximum amount available to her under the FLSA and
the MWHL. (ECF No. 14.) On September 11, 2017, Plaintiff
moved for attorneys' fees and costs. (ECF Nos. 15, 16.)
September 21, 2017, the Defendants presented Plaintiff with
two checks pursuant to the Consent Decree. In the
Plaintiff's view, however, the tax withholdings appeared
too high. Plaintiff sent numerous emails and letters seeking
to remedy the alleged shortcoming. On October 25, 2017,
having not received a reply from the Defendants, the
Plaintiff filed a Motion to Enforce Consent Decree and for
Entry of Consent Judgment. (ECF No. 18.) Defendants filed a
Response on November 13, 2017. (ECF No. 21.)
parties in an FLSA action are “entitled to an award of
attorney's fees and costs that they establish as
reasonable.” Jackson v. Estelle's Place,
LLC, 391 F. App'x 239, 242 (4th Cir. 2010); see
also 29 U.S.C. § 216(b) (The Court “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.”)
Motion for Attorneys' Fees and Costs
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). “The first step in determining the
reasonable attorney's fees is to calculate the
lodestar-that is, ‘the number of hours reasonably
expended on the litigation times a reasonable hourly
rate.'” Andrade v. Aerotek, Inc., 852
F.Supp.2d 637, 640 (D. Md. 2012) (quoting Blum v.
Stenson, 465 U.S. 886, 888 (1984)). In assessing the
reasonableness of the requested fee, the court considers the
following twelve factors, known as the Johnson
(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 ...