The opinion of the court was delivered by: Bua, District Judge.
This case comes before the court on plaintiffs' motion for
attorneys' fees pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1988.
On April 21, 1977, plaintiffs filed their complaint in this
case.*fn1 The jurisdiction of this court is founded on
28 U.S.C. § 1343(3) and (4). Plaintiffs alleged, inter alia, that their due
process rights were violated by the Illinois Department of Public
Aid's (IDPA) failure to take "prompt, definitive, and final
administrative action" in granting food stamp hearings and
implementing the decisions made as a result of those hearings
within 60 days of plaintiffs' request for the hearing. The
plaintiffs also alleged that this practice was in contravention
of the requirements of federal regulations*fn2 promulgated by
the Department of Agriculture pursuant to the Food Stamp Act.
7 U.S.C. § 2011 et seq.
The complaint requested relief in the form of an injunction
requiring the defendants to hold hearings and implement the
decisions issued pursuant thereto within 60 days of a request for
a hearing concerning food stamp benefits. They also requested
that the court enter a declaratory judgment finding the
defendants' alleged practices to be in violation of the
The defendants agree that the plaintiffs' attorneys are
entitled to fees pursuant to § 1988, but dispute the claimed
amount of $20,783.75.
The defendants contest the amount of the fees claimed on three
grounds: (1) Plaintiffs failed to present adequate evidence to
support an award of $20,783.75; (2) The hours claimed are
unreasonable, excessive, duplicative, and disproportionate to the
results achieved; (3) The calculation of a fee award for a
federally funded legal services organization may not be based on
the "customary" hourly rate that would be charged by a private
With regard to defendants' first contention, the court finds
that the sworn affidavits submitted by plaintiffs' attorneys
provide a sufficient evidentiary basis for the award of
attorneys' fees. Each affidavit includes a detailed list of the
items of work done and the time spent on each item.
After a careful review of each affidavit, we conclude that the
attorneys allocated their time reasonably. Over a period of
approximately two and one-half years, the four attorneys spent a
total of 369.50*fn3 hours working on this case. This included 27
hours spent by two attorneys in formulating the complaint.
Approximately 70 hours were spent by three attorneys in
successfully seeking class certification of this suit.
Approximately 110 hours were spent on discovery matters including
the review of IDPA materials and files. The information gained as
a result thereof was important to the plaintiffs' successful
motion for class certification and their successful opposition to
defendants' motion for summary judgment. The court fails to see
anything unreasonable about the time spent on discovery and
Moreover, the court does not agree that the plaintiffs'
attorneys unnecessarily duplicated each other's work. It is clear
from a review of the affidavits that the time spent by
plaintiffs' attorneys on research, drafting of pleadings,
memoranda regarding class certification and defendants' motion
for summary judgment, settlement negotiations and drafting of
proposed settlement orders was reasonable.
Finally, the defendants propose that plaintiffs' attorneys'
hourly rate should be calculated on a cost-plus reasonable profit
basis as suggested by Copeland v. Marshall, 594 F.2d 244
(D.C.Cir. 1978) (vacated May 29, 1979).
We do not accept defendants' contention that the hourly billing
rate of attorneys for the Legal Assistance Foundation of Chicago
(LAFC) should be based on the fully allocated cost to the
organization of an attorney's time. This contention has been
almost uniformly rejected by courts in this district and others.
See, e.g., Lackey v. Bowling, 476 F. Supp. 1111 (N.D.Ill., 1979)
(Grady, J.); Custom v. Quern, 482 F. Supp. 1000 (N.D.Ill., 1980)
(Marshall, J.); Rodriguez v. Taylor, 569 F.2d 1231 at 1248 (3d
Cir. 1977); Torres v. Sachs, 538 F.2d 10 (2d Cir. 1976) (relying
on the language and legislative history of 42 U.S.C. § 1973(1)(c)
and cited with approval in H.Rep. 94-1558 at p. 8 n. 6 dealing
with attorneys' fees pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1988); Fairley v.
Patterson, 493 F.2d 593 at 606-607 (5th Cir. 1974). We find the
above cited opinions of Judges Grady and Marshall to be well
reasoned and persuasive and we agree that the reasonable value of
the attorneys' services should be measured by the hourly rate
that comparable counsel would charge a fee-paying client in
equally complex federal litigation.
Attorney Soltman is a 1969 graduate of the University of
Chicago Law School and his entire legal career has been spent as
an attorney for legal service organizations like LAFC. Mr.
Soltman also has a great deal of experience with cases similar ...