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Strama v. Peterson

decided: September 16, 1982.

THOMAS J. STRAMA, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
PAUL Q. PETERSON, M.D., ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS



Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 78 C 2144 -- Milton I. Shadur, Judge.

Cummings, Chief Judge, Pell, Circuit Judge, and Foreman,*fn* Chief District Judge.

Author: Cummings

CUMMINGS, Chief Judge. In June 1978 plaintiff Thomas J. Strama filed a two-count complaint against former Chicago Fire Commissioner Richard Albrecht, Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Paul Q. Peterson, Mobile Intensive Care Coordinator Karin Swanson, and the Billings Hospital Chief of Mobile Intensive Care Dr. Frank J. Baker.*fn1 Count I alleged that defendants Albrecht and Baker discharged the plaintiff from his job as a Chicago Fire Department paramedic on arbitrary and capricious grounds and without a hearing in violation of Section 1 of the Civil Rights Act of 1871 (42 U.S.C. ยง 1983). The remaining three defendants were charged with causing the revocation of Strama's paramedic certification without a hearing in violation of his due process rights. Count II charged that Baker, Strama's supervising physician, wrongfully interfered with Strama's job and Illinois Department of Public Health paramedic certification in violation of Illinois law. An amended complaint was filed on October 6, 1978, and a second amended complaint on June 11, 1979.

Defendant Albrecht filed a motion for summary judgment which was taken under advisement by Judge Perry on February 12, 1980. The suit was reassigned to Judge Shadur on June 24, 1980. On June 17, 1981, Judge Shadur denied the plaintiff's and various defendants' motions for summary judgment on Count I of the second amended complaint.

On August 4, 1981, plaintiff Strama and defendant Albrecht filed a stipulation disposing of the controversy between them. Under the settlement, plaintiff was reinstated in his position of career service paramedic with the Chicago Fire Department as of August 1, 1981, together with full credit for seniority and other benefits due him since the February 18, 1978, date of discharge. The settlement also awarded him gross back pay of approximately $65,000, which was reduced to $22,095.17 by Strama's post-discharge earnings, and further reduced to $10,676.40 after tax and pension deductions. The settlement provided that the cause of action would be dismissed with prejudice as to defendant Albrecht, the City of Chicago, and its officers and agents. However, the settlement preserved the cause of action against Drs. Baker and Peterson and Coordinator Swanson. The settlement also provided that the plaintiff's attorneys should attempt to settle their fees with Albrecht's attorneys, but failing that, return to court with a petition for attorneys' fees.

Albrecht's and plaintiff's attorneys could not come to agreement on the subject of plaintiff's attorneys' fees. Consequently, on September 16, 1981, the plaintiff requested Judge Shadur to award attorneys' fees and costs totalling $47,054.06. The petition for attorneys' fees was supported by an affidavit containing the following summary:

SUMMARY

ATTORNEY TIME

Mr. Seliger: 300.75 hours x $80/hour $24,060.00

Mr. Johnson: 60 hours x $50/hour $3,000.00

Ms. Weiner: 23.50 hours x $75/hour $1,762.50

PARALEGAL TIME

Mr. Johnson (student in

1979): 25 hours x $25/hour $625.00

Ms. Sieler: 25 hours x $25/hour $625.00

TOTAL $30,072.50

MULTIPLIER OF 1.5 $45,108.75

TOTAL ATTORNEYS" FEES CLAIMED ...


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