Rule 37 Sanctions Award Reduced Because Attorneys Used Block Billing

INSURANCE RECOVERY GROUP, INC. v. Connolly, Dist. Court, D. Massachusetts 2015 – Google Scholar.

The court agreed with the plaintiff that the defendant violated Rule 37, but it reduced the sanctions award because the lawyers used block billing. The court explained:

“As the Defendants’ Counsel correctly argues, many entries in this documentation are block billed. Defs.’ Counsel’s Resp. 5-6. “`Block billing’ is an industry term used to describe the time-keeping method by which an attorney lumps together the total daily time spent working on a case, rather than itemizing the time expended on specific tasks.” AutoZone, 934 F. Supp. 2d at 354 (internal quotations omitted). The courts disfavor block billing and have broad discretion in reducing fees requests, generally through an “across-the-board global fee reduction[].” Id. at 355; see also Torres-Rivera v. O’Neill-Cancel, 524 F.3d 331, 340 (1st Cir. 2008).

IRG’s attorneys defined categories for and color-coded their billing entries. See Fees by Category; Fees by Date. This process does not allow, however, sufficient specificity to determine the time spent on each particular task within the more broadly defined categories. While it does offer breakdowns of its attorneys’ work by category and date, IRG does not demonstrate the time actually spent on each discrete task. Therefore, the Court cannot evaluate the reasonableness of the hours expended. Accordingly, this Court globally reduces IRG’s fees award by twenty percent, to be applied after more specific deductions are made. See, e.g.,Norkunas, 969 F. Supp. 2d at 197AutoZone, 934 F. Supp. 2d at 355Conservation Law Found., 767 F. Supp. 2d at 253.”

Ed Clinton, Jr.

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