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Butz v. Amware Distribution Warehouses of Georgia, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Georgia, Atlanta Division

December 8, 2014

TIFFANY R. BUTZ and JANICE M. PERRY, Plaintiff,
v.
AMWARE DISTRIBUTION WAREHOUSES OF GEORGIA, INC., and AMWARE LOGISTICS SERVICES, INC., Defendants.

OPINION AND ORDER

WILLIAM S. DUFFEY, Jr., District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on Plaintiffs' Motion for Attorneys' Fees [42] and Plaintiffs' "Suipplemental [sic]" Motion for Attorneys' Fees [51].

I. BACKGROUND

This case began as a putative collective action brought by Plaintiffs Tiffany Butz ("Butz") and Janice Perry ("Perry") (together, "Plaintiffs") against Amware Distribution Warehouses of Georgia, Inc. ("Amware Distribution") and Amware Logistics Services, Inc. ("Amware Logistics") (together, "Defendants"). Plaintiffs claim Defendants failed to pay overtime compensation to Plaintiffs for hours worked in excess of forty (40) hours per week, in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"), 29 U.S.C. § 201, et seq.

The action was filed on September 26, 2013. About three and a half months later, on January 8, 2014, Plaintiffs filed their motion to conditionally certify the case as a collective action. This motion, after various extensions in the briefing schedule, was submitted for the Court's consideration, and on April 16, 2014, the Court entered its order denying the collective action motion and allowing it to proceed only on behalf of Plaintiffs Butz and Perry in their individual capacity. Although Plaintiffs' burden to support conditional certification was lenient, the Court found in its April 16, 2014, Order, that "neither Plaintiff ha[d] presented evidence that they are similarly situated to or that their claims are representative of the class they seek to represent." (April 16, 2014, Order [38] at 22).[1]

On May 5, 2014, about three (3) weeks after the Court's Order denying conditional certification, Defendant filed its Offer of Judgment (the "Offer". Plaintiffs accepted the Offer the next day, thus resolving Butz's and Perry's individual overtime claims. ([40]). On June 10, 2014, the Clerk of Court entered judgment in favor of Plaintiffs. ([41]). Judgment was entered in favor of Plaintiff Butz in the aggregate amount of $13, 983.90, and in favor of Plaintiff Perry in the aggregate amount of $8, 467.02, for a judgment in the total amount of $22, 450.92.

The only issue remaining in this case is the attorneys' fees to be awarded. Plaintiffs seek a total fee award of $111, 195.00.[2]

II. DISCUSSION

A. Legal Standard

In an overtime action under the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Court "shall, in addition to any judgment awarded to the plaintiff or plaintiffs, allow a reasonable attorney's fee to be paid by the defendant, and costs of the action." 29 U.S.C. § 216(b). It is within the Court's discretion to determine the amount of the fee to be awarded. Kreager v. Solomon & Flanagan, P.A., 775 F.2d 1541, 1543 (11th Cir. 1985).

There are certain basic guideposts that our circuit has set that apply to a district court's determination of a reasonable fee award. "The most useful starting point for determining the amount of a reasonable fee is the number of hours reasonable expended on the litigation multiplied by the reasonable hourly rates." Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 433 (1983).[3] Fundamental to this fee evaluation process is that the amounts for which fees are sought are reasonable for the case in which a plaintiff prevailed. That is, the Court must consider the results obtained by the plaintiff in evaluating and determining reasonable attorneys' fees. Dillard v. City of Greensboro, 213 F.3d 1347, 1353 (11th Cir. 2000). In doing so, the Court may exercise its discretion to reduce the fees requested to avoid an award for litigation that was not necessary to the case but for which the award is sought. See Sahyers v. Prughm, Holliday & Karatinos, 560 F.3d 1241, 1245-46 (11th Cir. 2009). Put another way,

[i]f fee applicants do not exercise billing judgment, courts are obligated to do it for them.... [I]t is as much the duty of courts to see that excessive fees and expenses are not awarded as it is to see that an adequate amount is awarded.

Am. Civil Liberties Union of Ga. v. Barnes, 168 F.3d 423, 428 (11th Cir. 1999). It is against this backdrop that the Court considers the reasonable ...


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