Not what you're
looking for? Try an advanced search.
Buy This Entire Record For
STRAMA v. PETERSON
January 6, 1982
THOMAS J. STRAMA, PLAINTIFF,
PAUL Q. PETERSON, M.D., ET AL., DEFENDANTS.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Shadur, District Judge.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Thomas J. Strama ("Strama") originally sued former Director
of Illinois Department of Public Health ("IDPH") Paul
Peterson; Coordinator of IDPH's Mobile Intensive Care Program
("MICP") Karen Swanson; Chief of MICP at Billings Hospital
Frank Baker; and former City of Chicago Fire Commissioner
Richard Albrecht ("Albrecht") because of their involvement in
the allegedly unlawful suspension of Strama's paramedic
license and his consequent loss of employment. Strama and
Albrecht were able to reach a settlement under which Strama
was reinstated as a Fire Department paramedic with full back
pay. As a "prevailing party" Strama now seeks attorneys' fees
and expenses from Albrecht under 42 U.S.C. § 1988 ("Section
1988"). For the reasons stated in this memorandum opinion and
order Albrecht is ordered to pay Strama $45,551.56 in fees and
"Lodestar" and the Multiplier
As is so often the case under Section 1988, the real
question is not whether but how much in fees should be
awarded. Albrecht cannot seriously contest Strama's right, at
a minimum, to recover the "lodestar" figure*fn2 of attorneys'
fees generated by the suit against Albrecht. Strama's counsel
provided high quality legal work that resulted (by settlement)
in complete vindication of Strama's rights.
Fees are clearly awardable under the standards approved in
Harrington v. DeVito, 656 F.2d 264, 266-67 (7th Cir. 1981).
This action triggered the settlement. There is no evidence that
any time spent was wasted or unnecessary. Nor was Strama's
complaint frivolous: It withstood motions of various defendants
(three by Albrecht himself) for dismissal and summary judgment,
and Strama has obtained reinstatement and full backpay with the
litigation not yet over. Cf. Bonner v. Coughlin, 657 F.2d 931,
934 (7th Cir. 1981) (plaintiff recovered only nominal damages,
yet was entitled to a reasonable fee award).
Strama poses a more difficult question by his request for a
multiplier of 1.5. Cases seldom discuss the appropriateness of
a multiplier and the standards for its determination. In
Kamberos v. GTE Automatic Electric, Inc., 603 F.2d 598, 604
(7th Cir. 1979), cert. denied, ___ U.S. ___, 102 S.Ct. 612, 70
L.Ed.2d 599 (1981), our Court of Appeals approved the use of a
1.25 multiplier. Although Kamberos was a Title VII case, the
same court has implicitly approved the use of multipliers and
the Kamberos standards in Section 1983 cases. Bonner
v. Coughlin, 657 F.2d 931, 936-37 (7th Cir. 1981).
As a starting point Kamberos looked to Code of Professional
Responsibility DR 2-106:
Factors to be considered as guides in determining
the reasonableness of a fee include the
(1) The time and labor required, the novelty
and difficulty of the questions involved, and the
skill requisite to perform the legal service
(2) The likelihood, if apparent to the client,
that the acceptance of the particular employment
will preclude other employment by the lawyer.
(3) The fee customarily charged in the locality
for similar legal services.
(4) The amount involved and the results
(5) The time limitations imposed by the client
or by the circumstances.
(6) The nature and length of the professional
Buy This Entire Record For