One common impediment to resolution of FLSA claims is the amount of attorneys’ fees sought by the claimant’s attorney. One important factor in assessing an appropriate fee is the rate likely to be awarded by the Court should Plaintiff prevail in that jurisdiction. A new appeals court decision approves fixing that rate at $350/hour for experienced counsel in the Eastern District of New York. Encalada v. Baybridge Enters., 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 15985 (2d Cir. 2015).
In Encalada, Plaintiff’s counsel appealed the narrow issue of whether the Court erred in setting its “award of attorney’s fees based on its calculation of twenty billable hours at an hourly rate of $350.” The appeals court determined that the trial court had “properly engaged in ‘a case-specific inquiry into the prevailing market rates for counsel of similar experience and skill to the fee applicant’s counsel,’ . . . when it determined that a fee below the $500 to $600 per hour sought by plaintiff’s counsel [was] sufficient ‘to induce a capable attorney to undertake the representation.’” Id. at *2.
This decision provides useful guidance to district courts when assessing attorneys’ fees and for defendants when negotiating such fees as part of a settlement.