Interns’ hourly rate in seven workers lawsuit is opposed

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A subcontractor of Imperial Pacific International LLC, who was named a defendant in the lawsuit filed by seven construction workers, has opposed the attorney fees for two persons involved the case, saying they are considered interns.

Halegua

Gold Mantis Construction Decoration (CNMI) LLC, a former subcontractor and contractor of IPI, is opposing the rate of $160 per hour for two law interns requested by one of the lawyers of the seven construction workers, Aaron Halegua of New York.

Mocanu

Gold Mantis lawyer Tiberius Mocanu opposes the $160 hourly rate for the two law student interns, Yun Zhang and Lulu Sun. Mocanu said a former paralegal of Halegua was paid $125 an hour, and the two interns are not law school graduates.

“It is reasonable to conclude that much of the work they performed could have been performed by a seasoned paralegal,” Mocanu said.

Mocanu argues that there is no U.S. Attorney’s Office attorney’s fees matrix available for a law student intern. Instead the only category that comes close is paralegals and clerks. “Thus, in order to determine what has been found reasonable for interns, this court should look to cases which have addressed the prevailing rate for legal interns. Seventy-five dollars per hour [is] an appropriate fee in the Eastern District of New York,” Mocanu said.

Generally, he said, hourly rates may be increased or reduced based on the complexity of the litigation. Mocanu states that the work performed did not touch on the complexities of bringing a claim under Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act. “The work performed was basic research regarding discoverable material and composing a motion to compel. This type of work is not specialized but is instead standard legal work that any summer associate could have performed.”

Consequently, as there is case law from the general New York area supporting an hourly rate of between $75 and $1,000 an hour, Mocanu said the court should reduce the hourly rate of the two interns to $85 an hour.

He said the plaintiffs’ entire request for attorney’s fees should be reduced by 25% as a portion of the work performed in bringing the motion to compel as well as the motion for attorney’s fees was already completed as it is a duplication of the effort in filing a motion to compel against IPI as well as a motion for attorney fees.

Halegua, recently asked the District Court for the NMI to issue an order awarding them attorney’s fees in the amount of $30,517.80.

Kimberly Bautista | Reporter
Kimberly Albiso Bautista has covered a wide range of news beats, including the community, housing, crime, and more. She now covers sports for the Saipan Tribune. Contact her at kimberly_bautista@saipantribune.com.

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