Legal Memorandum: Evaluating Attorney Fees in FLSA Cases

Issue: How are attorney’s fees for a prevailing party to be evaluated for ‘reasonableness’ 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); Reasonable hourly rate
Jurisdiction: Federal
Cited Cases: 168 F.3d 423; 465 U.S. 886; 836 F.2d 1292
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 06/01/2015

In calculating the lodestar amount, federal courts must first determine a reasonable hourly rate for the services provided by the prevailing party’s attorney.  “A reasonable hourly rate is the prevailing market rate in the relevant legal community for similar services by lawyers of reasonably comparable skills, experience, and reputation.”  Norman v. Housing Auth. of City of Mongtomery, 836 F.2d 1292, 1299 (11th Cir. 1988).*FN1  The party seeking to recover attorney’s fees bears the burden of “supplying the court with specific and detailed evidence from which the court can determine the reasonably hourly rate.”  Id. at 1303.  Testimony that a stated fee is reasonable is unsatisfactory to meet this burden.  Id.  Instead, “the best information available to the court is usually a range of fees set by the market place.”  Id. at 1301. Moreover, “[t]he court is itself an expert on the question [of attorney’s fees] and may consider its own knowledge and experience concerning reasonable and proper fees.”  Id. at 1303.

Conclusory statements about reasonableness are not satisfactory.  Norman, 836 F.2d at 1301.  The party seeking to recover fees must offer “specific and detailed evidence from which the court can determine the reasonably hourly rate.”  See id. at 1303; see also Oliva v. Infinite Energy, Inc., No. 1:11-cv-232-MP-GRJ, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 180117 (N.D. Fla. Dec. 24, 2013) (explaining that the statement “I know of many fee awards that exceed the rate of $295 per hour” was not informative as […]

Subscribe to Litigation Pathfinder

To get the full-text of this Legal Memorandum ... and more!

(Month-to-month and annual subscriptions available)