United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
ORDER ON MOTION FOR ATTORNEY'S FEES AND COSTS
(DOC. NO. 63)
Sorokin United States District Judge
the Court ruled that “265 Franklin may not seek
full indemnification for legal costs and fees
related to this matter; rather, it may only seek
indemnification for costs related to allegations that
implicate the conduct and operation of New Pete's
business.” Doc. No. 59 at 4 (internal quotation marks
omitted). 265 Franklin has now submitted its request for
attorney's fees and costs with supporting documentation
and New Pete's has opposed. Doc. Nos. 63, 66. For the
following reasons, the Court reduces the request submitted by
265 Franklin and otherwise ALLOWS its motion.
outset of the underlying suit-and in response to a request
from New Pete's- Magistrate Judge Bowler stayed all
discovery while New Pete's engaged an ADA expert;
however, at 265 Franklin's request, the Court exempted
discovery regarding the plaintiff's standing to bring
suit. Doc. No. 28. Subsequently, 265 Franklin served such
discovery, resulting in interrogatories, document production,
and a motion to compel filed by 265 Franklin. Doc. No. 29.
After a suggestion of death was filed as to plaintiff
Marradi, Doc. No. 39, the instant dispute ensued.
Massachusetts law, “[w]hat constitutes a reasonable fee
is a question that is committed to the sound discretion of
the judge.” Berman v. Linnane, 748 N.E.2d 466,
469 (Mass. 2001). Furthermore, Massachusetts courts look to
several factors when determining whether attorney's fees
are reasonable, including: “the nature of the case and
the issues presented, the time and labor required, the amount
of damages involved, the result obtained, the experience,
reputation and ability of the attorney, the usual price
charged for similar services by other attorneys in the same
area, and the amount of awards in similar cases.”
Id. (quoting Linthicum v. Archambault, 398
N.E.2d 482, 488 (Mass. 1979)).
New Pete's invites the Court to find that 265
Franklin's decision to pursue a standing defense rather
than to identify whether the building at issue in the
underlying suit in fact violated the ADA was per se
unreasonable. Doc. No. 66 at 7-8. While New Pete's
position has tremendous practical appeal,  lawyers work for
clients, and clients are entitled to stand on their legal
rights, which include demanding that a plaintiff have
standing to bring suit. Nothing before the Court suggests
that the standing defense was frivolous, advanced without a
colorable basis, or advanced in bad faith. Thus, the Court
rejects this basis for reducing 265 Franklin's fees
while some of 265 Franklin's discovery requests were
reasonable in scope, such as its first and second request,
other requests were overly broad, burdensome, and neither
targeted, efficient, nor proportional. See Doc. No.
29-4 at 4 (seeking “[a]ll documents concerning all
occasions when you have gone to the Downtown Boston [sic]
from January 2013 through ”); id.
(seeking “[d]ocuments reflecting your medical status,
insofar as it reflects your mobility during the period from
January 1, 2013 through December 30, 2017”).
Ultimately, the discovery requests resulted in 265 Franklin
filing a motion to compel (which was partially necessitated
by plaintiff's counsel rather than the scope of the
requests made by 265 Franklin). Doc. No. 29 at 3-5 (noting
that plaintiff Marradi's counsel “ignored two
separate requests for conferences regarding his
objections” but also highlighting that Marradi objected
to requests that that the Court now finds were overly broad).
these circumstances, the Court reduces by 50 percent the
hours that 265 Franklin's attorneys may bill for
drafting, serving, conferring about, and compelling
discovery. Thus, the 16.7 billable hours that the Court has
identified as solely devoted to discovery-related work,
see Doc. No. 65 at 8-10, shall be reduced to 8.35
hours. Therefore, the Court initially reduces the fee request
from $41, 369.65 to $36, 709.40.
the Court concludes that the hourly rates charged by
Attorneys Dinardo and Todd were unreasonably high given that
this mine-run lawsuit “was a straightforward ADA
compliance case.” Melo v. Lawrence Plaza Ltd.
P'ship, No. CV 15-13472-FDS, 2017 WL 489681, at *5
(D. Mass. Feb. 6, 2017). Hourly rates of $815 and $515, while
“entirely consistent with the rates charged by Boston
lawyers of [their] experience and ability, ” Doc. No.
65 at 19, are nonetheless entirely inappropriate for the work
required to resolve the underlying dispute here. Cf.
Melo, 2017 WL 489681, at *5 (awarding hourly rates of
$250 and $200 for a straightforward ADA compliance case);
Hutchinson ex rel. Julien v. Patrick, 683 F.Supp.2d
121, 129 (D. Mass. 2010), aff'd, 636 F.3d 1 (1st
Cir. 2011) (finding rates of $250-$425/hour reasonable in an
ADA case of great “importance and difficulty”);
Iverson v. Braintree Prop. Assocs., L.P., No.
04CV12079-NG, 2008 WL 552652, at *3 (D. Mass. Feb. 26, 2008)
(reducing an associate's hourly rate to $150 in a similar
ADA compliance case). Accordingly, the Court concludes that
it is appropriate to award Attorney Dinardo an hourly rate of
$407.50, Attorney Todd an hourly rate of $257.50, and to
halve the hourly rates of the paralegals who performed work
on this matter.
the Court further reduces the fee request from $36, 709.40 to
$18, 354.70. 265 Franklin's motion is otherwise ALLOWED.
 It is an especially sensible position
when considering the long-term interests of 265 Franklin,
which New Pete's rightly notes has an independent legal
obligation to comply with the ADA. Indeed, even if a standing
defense succeeds in one case, 265 Franklin risks another ADA
suit brought by a private person who does have standing, as
well as suit on behalf of a public agency charged with
enforcing the ADA.
 For example, if the Court wished to
determine the frequency of counsel coming to “Downtown
Boston” over a four-year period, an informal inquiry
with counsel, an interrogatory, or a handful of questions at
a deposition would all be far more useful, far cheaper, and
far less burdensome than seeking all documents within
counsel's possession, custody, ...