Royal Caribbean Owes Legal Fees in Samuel Schultz’s Job Bias Case

By Francisco Salazar

Samuel Schultz is entitled to more than $1 million in attorneys’ fees and legal costs, a Miami federal judge ruled.

Bloomberg Law is reporting that the $971,842 in fees the company must pay is less than half the $2.1 million Samuel Schultz’s lawyers sought in the Americans with Disabilities Act case, the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida said.

According to Bloomberg, Schultz accepted Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.‘s $300,000 offer of judgment to end his disability bias lawsuit. According to the news outlet the 30 percent reduction in the more than 4,000 hours Schultz’s counsel spent on the case “was appropriate because the suit ended prior to trial and involved just one plaintiff.”

Royal Caribbean will not be required to foot the bill for Schultz’s decision to hire high-priced New York lawyers, the court said.

Magistrate Judge Edwin G. Torres said that the opera singer had the right to hire “the best possible employment lawyers” but the fee-shifting provisions only entitle him to a “reasonable fee.” The judge added that there were many lawyers in the Miami area who could have litigated the case without charging New York rates.

The judge also rejected Schultz’s attempted reliance on “Prison Legal News Inc. v. Inch, where former US Solicitor General Paul D. Clement was awarded a $900 hourly rate.” Judge Torres said that “Prison Legal News ‘is an outlier.’

In May 2018, Schultz sued Royal Caribbean alleging discrimination under U.S. ADA legislation after Royal Caribbean fired him because the company’s psychiatric evaluation established that Schultz had a risk for mental depression working on the confines of a cruise ship for weeks at a time. This was followed by years of litigation. As noted the lawsuit was settled and Schultz was awarded the entire $76,804 in litigation costs he sought.