Brian Sarrazin v. Coastal, Incorporated

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Superior Court of Connecticut.

Brian Sarrazin v. Coastal, Incorporated


Decided: July 22, 2011


This is a civil action where the plaintiff is seeking damages from the defendant, his former employer, for alleged unpaid overtime wages pursuant to Connecticut General Statutes Section 31–72.

This court conducted a trial on July 9, 2010 which was limited to the issue of liability.   In summary, the two claims for unpaid overtime alleged in the complaint involved a claim for unpaid commuting time, and a claim for work alleged to have been done at home each day after work.   This court found in favor of the defendant on both of these claims in a memorandum of decision filed on January 31, 2011.

During the trial the plaintiff testified that he “occasionally” was required to go to the plaintiff's warehouse before and after work to pick up tools.   Although this claim was not made in the complaint, there was no objection.   A witness for the defendant agreed that “occasionally” this may have happened.   This court found liability in favor of the plaintiff on this claim and indicated that a further hearing would be required.   The parties agreed on an amount to be awarded and the court has entered judgment in the agreed amount of $641.44.

Before the court at this time is the plaintiff's motion for attorneys fees and related legal costs.   The plaintiff has filed an affidavit reflecting 110 hours at $250.00 per hour for $27,500.00, and related legal costs of $689.58, totaling $28,189.58.

The defendant objects to the motion claiming that the affidavit is inadequate as a basis for awarding attorneys fees, that the plaintiff was not the “prevailing party,” and that the amount claimed is excessive.   The court heard argument on the plaintiff's motion on July 19, 2011.

The motion is based on the provisions of Connecticut General Statutes Section 31–72 which provides that when an employer fails to pay wages that the employee may recover such reasonable attorneys fees as may be allowed by the court.   The court decisions have uniformly held that it is appropriate to award attorneys fees under this section of the statute only when the defendant has acted with bad faith, arbitrariness or unreasonableness.  Schoomaker v. Lawrence Brinoli, Inc., 265 Conn. 210, 265 (2003).  Saunders v. Firtel, 293 Conn. 515, 530 (2009).   There was no evidence, direct or circumstantial, that the defendant in this case acted with bad faith, arbitrariness or unreasonableness.

The motion is denied.

William L. Hadden,

Judge Trial Referee

Hadden, William L., J.T.R.

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