A Magistrate Court judge in New York has recommended a 20% drop in the attorney’s fees and costs to be paid by the defendant in a Fair Debt Collection Practices Act case that settled via arbitration proceedings, determining that the hourly fee sought by the plaintiff’s attorneys was more than what they had received in “very recent” cases.
A copy of the recommendation in the case of Hershkowitz v. Arstrat can be accessed by clicking here.
The complaint accused the defendant of violating the FDCPA through communications that were made to the plaintiff in attempts to collect on an unpaid medical debt. The case was referred to arbitration and the plaintiff was awarded $1,000 in statutory damages. The plaintiff’s attorneys sought $11,342.50 in fees and costs, based on hourly rates of $450 for Craig Sanders, $350 for Jonathan Cader, and $275 for Kara McCabe. But Magistrate Judge Taryn A. Merkl of the District Court for the Eastern District of New York noted that Sanders was recently awarded an hourly rate of $370 and Cader was awarded an hourly rate of $250 in a pair of “very recent” FDCPA cases filed in the same district.
Judge Merkl also reduced the number of hours worked on the case by the plaintiff’s attorneys for motions that were prepared, but never filed. The judge also noted that the plaintiff’s attorneys excluded a number of hours from their submission, which is why she seemed to be ok with the bill including “some ‘fat,’ but not too much,” especially because the case lacked “complexity or novelty,” she wrote. Ultimately, Judge Merkl recommended awarding $8,857.78 in attorney’s fees and costs.