Kadden v. VisuaLex

Attorney Fees

New York Law Journal

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District Judge Shira Scheindlin

Kadden had sued former employer VisuaLex under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and New York Labor Law (NYLL) for unpaid overtime. After a bench trial, the court held Kadden a non-exempt employee entitled to recover unpaid overtime—at 1½ times her hourly pay rate—for all hours worked in excess of 40 hours weekly. A prior order awarded Kadden $21,765 in damages, prejudgment interest of $1,881, and attorney fees and costs. Pursuant to the FLSA and NYLL, Kadden sought $227,574 in attorney fees and costs, as a prevailing party in an employment dispute. The court's $144,592 total award reflected $138,750 in attorney fees, and $5,842 in costs. Rather than the $525 hourly rate requested by Kadden's respected, experienced counsel, a solo practitioner—who had agreed to take on Kadden's case on a contingency basis—the court found an hourly rate of $375 to be reasonable in light of the lack of complexity in the case, the small size of the counsel's practice, the relative uncertainty of success on the small amount in controversy, and VisuaLex's small size. The court further explained reductions in the amount of time that counsel, and his law clerk, had spent on Kadden's case.

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