Various statutes – including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL) – provide for an award of attorney fees to the prevailing party. These statutes represent a deviation from the so-called “American rule” of litigation, under which each side is responsible for its own attorney fees.
Here is the Memorandum of Law (filed 2/20/15) supporting prevailing plaintiff Alexandra Marchuk’s motion for attorney fees following a jury trial in her sexual harassment case against Faruqi & Faruqi et al., culminating in a $140,000 jury verdict in her favor on her claims under the NYCHRL.
The NYCHRL provides, in pertinent part:
In any civil action commenced pursuant to this section, the court, in its discretion, may award the prevailing party costs and reasonable attorney’s fees. For the purposes of this subdivision, the term “prevailing” includes a plaintiff whose commencement of litigation has acted as a catalyst to effect policy change on the part of the defendant, regardless of whether that change has been implemented voluntarily, as a result of a settlement or as a result of a judgment in such plaintiff’s favor. NYC Admin. Code § 8-502(f).
Plaintiff requests that the Court award her $1,379,795.58 in attorneys’ fees and $51,011.58 in costs.
The brief bases the attorney fee calculation on the “lodestar method” – under which “a reasonable fee award is determined by multiplying the number of hours expended on a representation by the reasonable hourly rate prevailing in the jurisdiction in which the legal work was performed” – and explains why the time plaintiff’s counsel spent, as well as the requested hourly rates, are reasonable.
Among other things, it highlights that plaintiff’s “lawsuit spurred [Faruqi & Faruqi] to implement formal, firm-wide training with regard to appropriate workplace conduct[.]”