FAY, Circuit Judge:
This case presents the issue of whether attorneys' fees awarded to a prevailing party can be recovered when that party moves for fees outside of the time limitation imposed by local rules. Based upon its local rule, the district court denied the attorneys' fee motion. After considering the authority for district courts to establish local rules setting time limitations for filing motions for attorneys' fees for the purposes of certainty and consistency, and finding no merit in arguments against the validity of the subject rule, we affirm.
Plaintiff-appellant Esmat Zaklama, an Egyptian anesthesiologist, ultimately prevailed in his employment discrimination suit against defendant-appellee Mount Sinai Medical Center (Mount Sinai) for his dismissal from the residency program there. Zaklama v. Mt. Sinai Medical Center, 842 F.2d 291 (11th Cir.1988). The jury returned a verdict for Zaklama for $85,000.00 in compensatory damages and $50,000.00 in punitive damages. Although the district court granted Mount Sinai's motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict, this court reversed the district court and remanded for entry of judgment in accordance with the jury verdict. Id. at 296.
On May 12, 1988, the district court entered the following final judgment pursuant to the direction of this court:
R2-140. The mandate of this court issued on June 23, 1988. Zaklama obtained a writ of execution in the amount of $135,000.00 with interest on July 14, 1988. The satisfaction of final judgment for $135,000.00 with accrued interest without attorneys' fees and costs against Mount Sinai was filed by Zaklama's attorneys on September 14, 1988. Subsequently, the proceeds were placed in the court's registry because Zaklama and his attorneys had become embroiled in a dispute over their contingency fee contract, the subject of a companion appeal. Zaklama v. Mount Sinai Medical Center, 906 F.2d 650 (11th Cir.1990). Thereafter, the district court directed payment in the amounts of $83,812.15 with accrued interest to Zaklama and $75,812.14 to his attorneys.
On September 19, 1988, Zaklama's attorneys, claiming Zaklama to be the prevailing party, filed the subject motion for attorneys' fees under 42 U.S.C. sections 1988
On November 2, 1988, the district court denied attorneys' fees for failure to comply with the local rule governing the time limitation for filing motions for attorneys' fees. Applicable Local Rule 10(F) of the Southern District of Florida states:
S.D.Fla., Local R. 10(F). On appeal, Zaklama's only arguments that merit discussion are the alleged ambiguity of Local Rule 10(F) for lack of applicability to a section 1988 claim, the district court's removal of the subject motion for attorneys' fees from coverage by Local Rule 10(F) by the court's reserving ruling on such a motion in its final judgment, and the ineffectiveness of the district court's final judgment because the mandate of this court had not issued when the judgment was entered.
District courts are authorized to institute local rules governing practice and procedure by Rule 83 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Specifically addressing the discretion of the district court to grant or deny attorneys' fees pursuant to section 1988, the Supreme Court has explained that "the district courts remain free to adopt local rules establishing timeliness standards for the filing of claims for attorney's fees." White v. New Hampshire Dept. of Employment Sec., 455 U.S. 445, 454, 102 S.Ct. 1162, 1168, 71 L.Ed.2d 325 (1982); see Brown v. City of Palmetto, 681 F.2d 1325, 1326-27 (11th Cir.1982); Knighton v. Watkins, 616 F.2d 795, 798 n. 2 (5th Cir.1980). In order to be enforced with respect to attorneys' fee motions, the time limitations established by local rules must state explicitly that they are applicable to claims for attorneys' fees.
Under the authority and enforceability accorded district courts in administering their local rules, we examine Zaklama's arguments against the district court's denial of his motion for attorneys' fees under Local Rule 10(F) of the Southern District of Florida. Zaklama first contends that Local Rule 10(F) is ambiguous because it does not specifically state that it applies to motions for attorneys' fees under section 1988.
We find that the initial principle of statutory interpretation established by the Supreme Court is applicable and determinative in our consideration of the alleged ambiguity of Local Rule 10(F): "The starting point in statutory interpretation is `the language [of the statute] itself.'" United States v. James, 478 U.S. 597, 604, 106 S.Ct. 3116, 3120, 92 L.Ed.2d 483 (1986) (quoting Blue Chip Stamps v. Manor Drug Stores, 421 U.S. 723, 756, 95 S.Ct. 1917, 1935, 44 L.Ed.2d 539 (1975) (Powell, J., concurring)); Newman v. Soballe, 871 F.2d 969, 971 (11th Cir.1989). Clearly, Local Rule 10(F) requires that all motions for attorneys' fees be filed within thirty days of final judgment. As this court stated in Pitts, section 1988 "is silent as to when motions for attorney's fees are to be filed." 755 F.2d at 898. Both the Northern District of Georgia and the Southern District of Florida have followed the Supreme Court's directive in White to establish time limits for filing claims for attorneys' fees under section 1988. The fact that the Northern District of Georgia has adopted a separate section in its local rules for claims under section 1988 in no way affects the prerogative of the Southern District of Florida to adopt an inclusive local rule governing time limits for all motions for attorneys' fees. See White, 455 U.S. at 454, 102 S.Ct. at 1168; Knighton, 616 F.2d at 798 n. 2; Fed.R.Civ.P. 83. We conclude that Local Rule 10(F) clearly and unambiguously notifies a reasonably diligent attorney that
Zaklama's second argument is that the district court's final judgment, which reserved ruling on attorneys' fees and costs, made Local Rule 10(F) inapplicable to the subject attorneys' fee request. He supports his argument with this court's prior holding that Local Rule 10(F) was not applicable because the district court informed the parties at the conclusion of the merits hearing that the issue of attorneys' fees was reserved. Davidson v. City of Avon Park, 848 F.2d 172, 174 (11th Cir.1988). We consider this case distinguishable from Davidson in several significant respects. At the conclusion of the merits hearing in Davidson, the district court reserved ruling on attorneys' fees, specifically retained jurisdiction for that purpose, indicated that the judgment would be partial, and instructed the prevailing party to make an appropriate motion for attorneys' fees. Id. at 174 n. 3. Furthermore, this court found that the district court's comment regarding another final dispositive order reasonably could have been interpreted to mean the mandate from this court. Id. at 174. These cumulative factors are not present in this case.
While the district court reserved ruling on attorneys' fees and costs in this case, there was no indication whatsoever from which Zaklama or his attorneys could conclude that the district court had removed this issue from the applicability of Local Rule 10(F). Zaklama's counsel conceded at the hearing on this matter that the final judgment was silent as to the time limitations for filing motions for attorneys' fees. Silence regarding time limitations does not constitute waiver of the applicability of a specific local rule. Obviously, the district court could not rule on an attorneys' fee motion which was not before it. Practioners must adhere to applicable local rules in order for those local rules to have effect and federal courts by enforcement will preserve the integrity of local rules, absent problems of a constitutional dimension. Zaklama's attorneys were responsible for filing their motion for attorneys' fees within thirty days from final judgment in accordance with Local Rule 10(F). Since they failed to do so, the subject motion for attorneys' fees is untimely.
Zaklama's third contention is that the final judgment is ineffective because the district court lacked jurisdiction, since entry of the final judgment predated the mandate from this court.
Determinative to our decision on this appellate issue is Zaklama's attorneys' obtaining a writ of execution upon the same judgment that he claims is invalid in this appeal. Furthermore, Mount Sinai paid the judgment pursuant to the writ of
Because we have determined that Local Rule 10(F) of the Southern District of Florida is not ambiguous, that the district court's final judgment did not remove this case from the applicability of that local rule, and Zaklama cannot contest a final judgment upon which he has executed, we AFFIRM the district court's denial of Zaklama's attorneys' fee motion for failure to comply with the time limitations of Local Rule 10(F).