Commercial Division Blog

Posted: December 22, 2023 / Written by: Jeffrey M. Eilender, Samuel L. Butt, Seth D. Allen, Joshua Wurtzel, Channing J. Turner / Categories Attorney Fees, Inquest, Fees on Fees

Court Denies “Fees on Fees” and Reduces Attorneys’ Fees Award Based on Duplicative and Excessive Work

On October 26, 2023 Justice Melissa A. Crane, of the New York County Commercial Division issued a decision in Newark Rehabilitation Ctr., PA v Simela, Index No. 651425/2022, 2023 NY Slip Op 33838(U), awarding plaintiff’s attorneys’ fees, but reducing the amount of fees after an inquest.  First, the Court declined to award plaintiff’s attorneys fees incurred in making the fee application, holding that this would be an “impermissible award of fees on fees,” which “must be denied” “[a]bsent any statute or agreement allowing fees on fees,” which was not present in this case.  The Court further reduced the remainder of the fees requested, finding that there were numerous instances of duplicative and excessive billing, explaining:

Next, the court declines to award the full $113,376.25 that plaintiffs seek for fees incurred uncovering defendants' omissions/misrepresentations and making the sanctions motion. First, the time records and entries submitted by plaintiffs' counsel indicate numerous instances of duplicative and excessive work being performed. The submissions provided indicate that multiple attorneys were billing for tasks that are essentially the same in nature, making these tasks, and such work by counsel, duplicative and unnecessary. Additionally, the records submitted indicate more than excessive instances of counsel double and even triple billing for meetings, court appearances, court conferences, and even for group meetings and conversations with one another.

Accordingly, in addition to declining to award the “fees on fees” requested, the Court further reduced the remaining attorneys’ fees sought by 50%.

Contact the Commercial Division Blog Committee at commercialdivisionblog@schlamstone.com if you or a client have questions concerning motions for attorneys’ fees.