In an opinion last week in a Fair Labor Standards Case, Judge Engelmayer reduced the requested fee award for plaintiffs’ counsel from $155,000 down to approximately $5,000. The plaintiffs had prevailed, but only as to a narrow aspect of the claim. After the liability verdict in the plaintiffs’ favor (in part), their counsel asked for a fee award without bothering, until prompted by Judge Engelmayer, to request damages for the plaintiffs themselves.
Judge Engelmayer explained that the fee reduction was justified because, inter alia, “plaintiffs’ counsels’ lawyering in support of these claims was anemic”:
Counsel forewent all discovery during the discovery period; took discovery only after defendants’ pro bono counsel asked that discovery be reopened; repeatedly missed deadlines; provoked the Court’s ire for their inattention to detail and to their clients’ interests; were ineffective in their jury addresses and witness examinations; and, after trial, put in a jaw-dropping demand for fees that outstripped by 20 times their clients’ recovery while neglecting to seek a damages award for their clients.