LEVIN H. CAMPBELL, Circuit Judge.
These are appeals from district court orders awarding fees to attorneys in compensation for their services in three successful actions brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for injunctive and declaratory relief.
A third objection is that attorneys' fees may not be awarded under the Fees Act in Lund and Palmieri because in those cases plaintiffs did not prevail under the federal Civil Rights Act but upon a pendent nonconstitutional statutory claim.
Defendants argue that plaintiffs may not recover attorneys' fees for time spent establishing their rights to fees for their work in the original § 1983 litigation. In this case, they argue, plaintiffs' request for fees did not conform to the standards enunciated in King v. Greenblatt, 560 F.2d 1024, 1026-27 (1st Cir.1977), cert. denied, ___ U.S. ___, 98 S.Ct. 3146, 57 L.Ed.2d 1161 (1978), and had to be challenged lest defendants' counsel "have seemed neglectful of their clients' proper interests." They point out that their challenge led to a stipulation substantially reducing the fees assessed. Defendants raise the spectre of prevailing parties submitting exorbitant claims to fees and presenting losing parties with the "Catch 22" choice between acceding to the demand or incurring still greater expenses by voicing their legitimate objections.
The district court rejected this argument on the grounds that the legislative history of the Fees Act indicates that fees are to be awarded when a party prevails through a consent judgment or through informal means and that a stipulation normally is not taken as an admission. 442 F.Supp. at 1118. Reliance on the stipulation may have saved both parties considerable time and effort, and no evidence has been presented that the original, higher time data was not submitted in good faith.
This is an issue on which we think we must rely on the district court's sound judgment, there being no evidence of clear excess or bad faith. It would be inconsistent with the purpose of the Fees Act to dilute a fees award by refusing to compensate the attorney for the time reasonably spent in establishing and negotiating his rightful claim to the fee. Accord, Prandini v. National Tea Co., 585 F.2d 47, 53 (3d Cir.1978); see Souza v. Southworth, 564 F.2d 609, 614 (1st Cir.1977). On the other hand, if the attorney's initial claims are exorbitant, or the time spent advancing them unreasonable, the district court should refuse the further compensation. The same point we have emphasized in all fee situations applies here: it is not enough for the court to multiply a fixed rate by the number of hours claimed. The court must satisfy itself of the overall fairness and reasonableness of the fee under all circumstances. We see no abuse of discretion on the present record.
Defendants' remaining claim is that the district court erred in finding $55 per hour in Palmieri and Inmates of Boys' Training School and $60 per hour in Lund to be reasonable rates for attorneys' fees. This court has questioned the billing of
The orders of the district court are affirmed.