Legal Memorandum: Evaluating Attorney Fees in FLSA Cases

Issue: Under federal law, how is a request for attorney’s fees for the prevailing party evaluated pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) under the Lodestar approach?

Area of Law: Employee Law, Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Attorney fees; Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA); Lodestar calculation
Jurisdiction: Federal
Cited Cases: 248 F. Supp. 2d 1162; 605 So. 2d 1282; 461 U.S. 424
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 06/01/2015

In determining the appropriate number of hours to be included in the Lodestar calculation, the court should exclude hours that are excessive, redundant, or otherwise unnecessary.  Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 434 (1983).  In Goss v. Killian Oaks House of Learning, 248 F. Supp. 2d 1162 (S.D. Fla. 2003) the plaintiff sought $315 in unpaid overtime, and the claim was settled several weeks into the litigation. However, the plaintiff’s attorney then claimed that he was owed $16,000 in attorneys’ fees.  The Southern District rejected the amount of attorneys’ fees as shockingly excessive, saying “an entitlement to attorney’s fees cannot be a carte blanche license for Plaintiffs to outrageously and in bad faith run up attorney fees without any threat of sanction.”  Id. at 1168.  Fee requests must be reduced when “there was nothing complex about the case that an experienced attorney could not have handled in one-half the time claimed.”  See Dalia v. Alvarez, 605 So. 2d 1282 (Fla. 3d Dist. Ct. App. 1992) (reducing fees from a requested $10,000 to $5,000 where the case was straightforward and the recovery was only $6,250). 


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