United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ON PLAINTIFFS' MOTION FOR
ALLISON D. BURROUGHS U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
reasons set forth below, the Court GRANTS in part
Plaintiff's motion for attorneys' fees [ECF No. 147]
and Plaintiff's supplemental motion for attorneys'
fees [ECF No. 155].
case arises from an incident that occurred at a street
festival in Gloucester, Massachusetts in June 2013, where
Plaintiff Alfonso Ciolino (“Plaintiff”) was
injured while being placed under arrest by officers of the
Essex County Sheriff's Department. Plaintiff commenced
this civil action against the arresting officers, Defendants
Aaron Eastman, David Earle, and George Gikas. In January
2016, after a four-day trial, the jury returned a verdict in
favor of Defendants on Plaintiff's malicious prosecution
claim. The jury found that Eastman and Earle were not liable
with respect to Plaintiff's § 1983 excessive force
claim, but found that Gikas was liable under § 1983 and
awarded Plaintiff $140, 000 in damages.
now moves for an award of attorneys' fees in accordance
with 42 U.S.C. § 1988. To calculate a fee award, the
First Circuit has instructed that “a trial court
generally should employ the lodestar method.” Bogan
v. City of Boston, 489 F.3d 417, 426 (1st Cir. 2007).
Under this method, the Court begins with the attorneys'
billing records, subtracting any hours that are
“duplicative, unproductive or excessive.”
Id. The Court then multiplies the number of
reasonable hours billed by the prevailing hourly rate in the
community. Id. “The resulting amount
constitutes the lodestar, ” which the Court may then
adjust further “for any of several reasons, including
the quantum of success achieved in the litigation.”
The Attorneys' Hourly Rates
Mr. Sinsheimer's Hourly Rate
requests that the hourly rate for Mr. Sinsheimer, who served
as lead counsel, be set at $500. Defendants do not
specifically discuss Mr. Sinsheimer's hourly rate in
their opposition to the motion for attorneys' fees, but
they do propose a rate of $400 per hour in their
“supplemental opposition.” [ECF Nos. 153, 156].
Plaintiff provided affidavits from Joseph Savage, Jr., R.
Bradford Bailey, Rosemary Scapicchio, and Howard Cooper to
support Mr. Sinsheimer's request for a rate of $500 per
hour. [ECF Nos. 148-7, 148-8, 148-9, 150].
Sinsheimer's hourly rate in federal civil rights
litigation has been addressed in several other cases. In
2015, Judge Sorokin set Mr. Sinsheimer's rate at $400 per
hour. Matalon v. O'Neill, Civ. A. No.
13-10001-LTS, 2015 WL 1206343, at *2 (D. Mass. Mar. 17,
2015), aff'd sub nom. Matalon v. Hynnes, 806
F.3d 627 (1st Cir. 2015). Judge Sorokin explained that Mr.
Sinsheimer had been awarded $350 per hour in 2011 by Judge
Woodlock, and he adjusted the amount upward to $400 per hour
to account for inflation and the additional experience gained
by Mr. Sinsheimer in the intervening years. Id.;
see also Ferraro v. Kelley, Civ. A. No. 08-11065-
DPW, 2011 WL 576074, at *5 (D. Mass. Feb. 8, 2011) (Woodlock,
J.) (awarding Mr. Sinsheimer $350 per hour, and discussing
Mr. Sinsheimer's fee awards in earlier federal cases).
cites two recent federal civil rights cases in which
experienced attorneys were awarded fees of $450 and $500 per
hour. Earlier this year, Judge Dein determined that
“the prevailing rate for experienced lead counsel in
straightforward civil rights cases . . . is in the range of
$400 per hour, ” but she awarded lead counsel in that
case $450 per hour because he had previously been awarded the
same rate in another case before the court, “albeit
without discussion.” Meagher v. Andover Sch.
Comm., Civ. A. No. 13-11307-JGD, 2016 WL 70447, at *8
(D. Mass. Jan. 6, 2016). In 2011, Judge Gertner awarded two
experienced attorneys $500 per hour for what she described as
an “extraordinarily difficult” case. Drumgold
v. Callahan, 806 F.Supp.2d 428, 432 (D. Mass. 2011).
Judge Sorokin cited the complexity and extended duration of
Drumgold in declining to award Mr. Sinsheimer the
same fee. Matalon v. O'Neill, 2015 WL 1206343,
case can fairly be described as a
“straightforward” civil rights case, which was
not significantly more complicated than Matalon.
Considering that Judge Sorokin awarded Mr. Sinsheimer $400
per hour in that case last year, and that Judge Dein
determined this year that the prevailing rate for experienced
lead counsel in such cases is approximately $400 per hour,
the Court sees no compelling reason to depart from these
assessments. Therefore, the Court sets Mr. Sinsheimer's
fee in this case at $400 per hour.
Ms. Thomas's Hourly Rate
argue that the fee request for attorney Lauren Thomas should
be stricken because Plaintiff has not provided an affidavit
from Ms. Thomas. Although the party seeking attorneys'
fees “bears the burden of providing this Court with
affidavits and other forms of evidence, ” Martino
v. Massachusetts Bay Transp. Auth., 230 F.Supp.2d 195,
205 (D. Mass. 2002), the Court is not aware of any
requirement that the affidavit must always come directly from
the individual who performed the work. Here, Plaintiff
represents that Ms. Thomas left the firm in early 2015. [ECF
No. 154, at 1]. Her work on this case is discussed in Mr.
Sinsheimer's declaration [ECF No. 148], and her
qualifications and her hourly rate are supported by
affidavits from R. Bradford Bailey and Rosemary Scapicchio.
[ECF Nos. 148-8, 148-9]. In addition, Plaintiff notes ...