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Carpaneda v. Domino's Pizza, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

March 5, 2015

EDUARDO CARPANEDA, on behalf of himself and all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
v.
DOMINO'S PIZZA, INC.; DOMINO'S, INC.; DOMINO'S PIZZA, LLC; PMLRA PIZZA, INC.; and HENRY ASKEW, Defendants

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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For Eduardo Carpaneda, on behalf of himself and all others similarly situated, Plaintiff: Hillary A. Schwab, Stephen S. Churchill, LEAD ATTORNEYS, Fair Work, P.C., Boston, MA; Brant Casavant, PRO HAC VICE, Fair Work P.C., Boston, MA.

For Domino's Pizza, Inc., Domino's, Inc., Domino's Pizza LLC, Defendants: Daniel J. Blake, LeClairRyan, Boston, MA; Kevin G. Kenneally, Michael T. Grant, LeClairRyan, P.C., Boston, MA.

For Henry Askew, PMLRA Pizza, Inc., Defendants: Eric R. LeBlanc, Todd J. Bennett, Bennett & Belfort, P.C., Cambridge, MA.

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MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

WILLIAM G. YOUNG, DISTRICT JUDGE.

I. INTRODUCTION

Eduardo Carpaneda (" Carpaneda" ), the plaintiff in this matter, moves for an award of attorneys' fees pursuant to Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 149, section 150 and Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 151, section 20. Pl.'s Pet. Att'y's Fees & Costs (" Pl.'s Pet." ), ECF No. 55. Carpaneda brought an action on behalf of himself and others similarly situated against Domino's Pizza, Inc.; Domino's Pizza LLC (collectively " Domino's" ); PMLRA Pizza, Inc. (" PMLRA" ); and Henry Askew (" Askew" ) (collectively, the " Defendants" ) for violations of the Massachusetts Minimum Wage Law and the

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Massachusetts Tips Law. See Decl. Daniel J. Blake, Ex. 1, Class Action Compl. (" Compl." ) ¶ 1, ECF No. 2-1. Carpaneda was represented by attorneys Stephen Churchill (" Churchill" ) and Brant Casavant (" Casavant" ) of Fair Work, P.C. Id. at 8; Notice Appearance, ECF No. 47. Pursuant to a Rule 68 Offer of Judgment, Carpaneda secured the full amount of the requested damages - $19,500. Offer J., ECF No. 51; Aff. Stephen Churchill (" Churchill Aff." ) ¶ 11, ECF No. 56. Carpaneda then filed a petition requesting that this Court order attorneys' fees and costs in the amount of $41,320.00 and $2,098.75, respectively. Pl.'s Pet. 8. PMLRA and Askew oppose the requested amount and ask this Court to grant an attorneys' fee totaling $19,510.00. Resp. Defs. PMLRA Pizza, Inc. & Henry Askew Pl.'s Pet. Att'ys' Fees & Costs (" Defs.' Resp." ) 10, ECF No. 58.

II. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

A. The Merits Case

Carpaneda is a delivery driver employed by PMLRA. Compl. ¶ 9. Throughout the course of his employment he received a " tipped minimum wage" of $3.00 per hour, plus tips. Id. Askew is the president of PMLRA, a franchisee of Domino's. Id. ¶ ¶ 7-8.

Carpaneda filed a class action complaint in the Massachusetts Superior Court against Domino's, PMLRA, and Askew, alleging violations of the Massachusetts Minimum Wage Law and the Massachusetts Tips Law. Compl. In his complaint, Carpaneda asserted that Domino's and PMLRA do a substantial amount of business through pizza delivery, thus relying heavily on delivery drivers. Id. ¶ 10. Domino's and PMLRA charge customers a delivery fee of $2.50 that is retained by the Defendants, not paid to the delivery driver. Id. ¶ 11. A reasonable customer, Carpaneda argued, would believe that the delivery charge was a tip to be paid to the delivery driver, and therefore would not tip the driver himself. Id. Carpaneda claimed that because customers believed that the delivery charge paid to Domino's was a tip, Carpaneda and other drivers similarly situated did not receive the state minimum wage of $8.00 per hour and Domino's reserved money to which the drivers were lawfully entitled. See id. ¶ 21. Carpaneda requested certification of a class of delivery drivers, damages totaling the difference between the tipped minimum wage of $3.00 per hour and the required minimum wage of $8.00 per hour, and attorneys' fees and costs. Id. at 7-8.

The Defendants removed the action to federal court. Notice Removal, ECF No. 1. This dispute, however, did not reach trial, nor was class certification determined, because the parties agreed upon an Offer of Judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 68. Offer J. All Defendants, including PMLRA and Askew, agreed to allow judgment to be entered against them, as to Carpaneda alone, in the amount of $19,500 plus " reasonable attorneys' fees and costs relating to this action." Id. Following the entry of the Offer of Judgment, Carpaneda petitioned this Court for an award of attorneys' fees and costs. Pl.'s Pet.

B. Attorneys Churchill and Casavant and Their Fees

Carpaneda retained attorneys Churchill and Casavant from Fair Work, P.C. to represent him and others similarly situated in this action. Compl. 8; Notice Appearance, ECF No. 47. Churchill is a partner at Fair Work P.C. Churchill Aff. ¶ 2. He received a law degree from Harvard Law School and has over twenty years of experience representing plaintiffs

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in employment disputes. Id. ¶ ¶ 1, 8. In addition, Churchill is a clinical instructor and visiting professor teaching employment law at Harvard Law School. Id. ¶ 2.

Casavant is an associate with Fair Work, P.C. Id. ¶ 9. He received his law degree at Northeastern University and was admitted to the Massachusetts Bar in 2008. Id. Casavant has spent the last five years of his career representing plaintiffs in employment disputes. Id.

Churchill represents that he and Casavant spent a total of 105.8 hours on Carpaneda's case - 81.5 for Churchill and 24.3 for Casavant. Id. ¶ 7. Churchill billed $425.00 per hour, and Casavant billed $275.00 per hour. Id. ¶ ¶ 8-9. Additionally, Churchill asserts that the total costs associated with the case reached $2,098.75. Id. ¶ 10. The requested costs are uncontested. See Defs.' Resp.

III. ANALYSIS

It is undisputed that Churchill and Casavant are entitled to an award of attorneys' fees. Both the Massachusetts Tips Law and the Massachusetts Minimum Wage Law allow a prevailing plaintiff to recover attorneys' fees. Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 149, § 150; Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 151, § 20. Additionally, the parties' Offer of Judgment agreement includes an award of attorneys' fees. Offer J. Because the parties do not dispute that an award of attorneys' fees is appropriate, the only issue is what constitutes reasonable attorneys' fees.

Churchill and Casavant assert that they spent a total of 105.8 hours working on Carpaneda's case. Churchill Aff. ¶ 7. Churchill billed 81.5 hours at the rate of $425.00 per hour, and Casavant billed 24.3 hours at the rate of $275.00 per hour for a total of $41,320.00. Id. 55 7-9; Pl.'s Pet. 8. PMLRA and Askew, however, ...


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