Chen v. County of Suffolk

Attorney Fees

New York Law Journal


Judge Denis Hurley

Zhiwen Chen sued three police officers alleging that they had violated her constitutional rights when they used excessive force in arresting her. After a six-day jury trial, the jury found two of the officers liable and awarded compensatory damages. Chen, as the prevailing party, moved for $169,820 in attorney fees and $4,994 in costs. Chen's counsel sought $400 per hour. The court found an hourly rate of $350 to be reasonable. Defendants argued that an across the board reduction was appropriate in light of counsel's over-billing and double-billing for reviewing depositions, preparing deposition summaries, and reviewing deposition summaries. The court disagreed, finding that the underlying suit turned on credibility and it was crucial for counsel to be intimately familiar with the nuances of each witness' testimony. After multiplying the reasonable hourly rate of $350 by 355.3 hours, and adding $2,275 for counsel's travel time, the court held that Chen was entitled to $126,630 in attorney fees. Since there was no objection and the expenses were adequately documented, Chen was awarded the full $4,994 for cost.

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