United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
ORDER ON PLAINTIFFS' MOTION FOR ATTORNEY'S
FEES AND COSTS AND TREBLE DAMAGES  [DOCKET NO.
JENNIFER C. BOAL UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
action, plaintiffs Jin Hai Li and Xin Liu brought claims
under the overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards
Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 201 et seq.
(“FLSA”) and the Massachusetts Wage Act, M.G.L.
c. 149, §§ 148-150 (the “Wage Act”).
Plaintiff Li also asserted a claim under the Massachusetts
Minimum Wage Law, M.G.L. c. 151, §§ 1, 2 & 9.
After a four day trial, the jury found that the Defendants
violated the FLSA by failing to pay overtime to the
Plaintiffs. The jury found that Defendants owed $5, 239.08
and $7, 043.04 in unpaid overtime to Li and Liu,
respectively. The jury found for the Defendants on
Li's minimum wage claim.
have filed a motion for an award of treble damages under the
Wage Act, and for attorney's fees and costs. Docket No.
130. For the following reasons, the Court grants the motion
to the extent that it awards $15, 717.24 to Li and $21,
129.12 to Liu in treble damages, $61, 030.00 in
attorney's fees, and $4, 937.74 in costs and expenses.
April 6, 2015, the Plaintiffs filed their complaint alleging
that Defendants Foolun, Inc., Di Tang, and Wen Xue Zhang
failed to pay overtime in violation of the FLSA and the Wage
Act. Docket No. 1. Plaintiff Li also alleged that the
Defendants failed to pay him minimum wages in violation of
Massachusetts law. Id.
parties appeared for a scheduling conference on October 2,
2015 and, thereafter, engaged in discovery. Docket No. 20. No
dispositive or discovery motions were filed.
day jury trial was held from January 30, 2017 through
February 2, 2017. On February 2, 2017, the jury found in
favor of Plaintiffs on the overtime claims and in favor of
the Defendants on Li's minimum wage claim. Docket No.
125. The jury also found that the Defendants' failure to
pay overtime was not willful. Id. The jury awarded
damages in the amount of $5, 239.08 and $7, 043.04 to Li and
Liu, respectively. Id.
March 7, 2017, Plaintiffs filed the instant motion seeking an
award of treble damages, attorney's fees, and costs.
Docket No. 130. Defendants filed an opposition on March 21,
2017. Docket No. 131. Plaintiffs filed a reply on April 5,
2017. Docket No. 136.
Plaintiffs request an award of treble damages in the amount
of $15, 717.24 for Li and $21, 129.12 for Liu. Docket No. 130
at 1. The Plaintiffs brought their claims under the
provisions of the FLSA and the Wage Act. The Wage Act
mandates the award of treble damages for lost wages once an
aggrieved employee prevails on a Wage Act claim. George
v. Nat'l Water Main Cleaning Co., 477 Mass. 371,
374-375 (2017). A failure to pay overtime wages under the
FLSA is also a violation of the Wage Act. Lambirth v.
Advanced Auto, Inc., 140 F.Supp.3d 108, 112 (D. Mass.
2015). Indeed, in their opposition to Plaintiffs' motion,
the Defendants do not contest that the Plaintiffs are
entitled to treble damages. Accordingly, the Court awards Li
and Liu treble damages in the amount of $15, 717.24 and $21,
Attorney's Fees And Costs
Plaintiffs seek $79, 402.50 in attorney's fees.
Specifically, they seek an award for: (1) 177.6 attorney
hours at the rate of $250 per hour for Attorney Meyerson and
(2) 107.7 attorney hours at the rate of $325 per hour for
Attorney Summer. See Meyerson Aff. at ¶¶
5, 12; Summer Aff. at ¶¶ 3,
They also seek $6, 437.74 in costs and expenses. Docket No.
130 at 1. For the reasons discussed below, the Court will
award $61, 030.00 in attorney's fees, and $4, 937.74 in
costs and expenses.
Attorney's Fees Under The FLSA And The Wage Act
the FLSA and the Wage Act allow a prevailing employee to
recover attorney's fees and costs. Carpaneda v.
Domino's Pizza, Inc., 89 F.Supp.3d 219, 224 (D.
Mass. 2015); Mogilevsky v. Bally Total Fitness
Corp., 311 F.Supp.2d 212, 216 (D. Mass. 2004). As
prevailing parties, therefore, the Plaintiffs are entitled to
recover reasonable attorney's fees and
plaintiff who prevails on congruent federal and state claims
and qualifies for fee-shifting under two or more statutes may
recover fees under whichever fee-shifting regimen [he]
chooses.” Coutin v. Young & Rubicam Puerto
Rico, Inc., 124 F.3d 331, 342 (1st Cir. 1997) (citation
omitted). Here, the Plaintiffs have chosen to recover fees
under the Wage Act. Docket No. 130 at 3, n. 2. In any event,
Massachusetts courts and the First Circuit use similar
approaches in evaluating the reasonableness of applications
for attorney's fees. Ellicott v. Am. Capital Energy,
Inc., No. 14-12152-FDS, 2017 WL 1224537, at *1, n. 1 (D.
Mass. Apr. 3, 2017) (citing Joyce v. Town of Dennis,