Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Official citation and/or docket number and footnotes (if any) for this case available with purchase.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

TIKALSKY v. CITY OF CHICAGO

United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois, E.D


March 6, 1984

MARY ANN TIKALSKY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CITY OF CHICAGO, A MUNICIPAL CORP., SAMUEL NOLAN, ACTING SUPERINTENDENT OF POLICE; LEMON WORKS, JR.; FRANK J. SKATTERY; LACY WILLIAMS; NORMAL SCHMIEZEKNECAK; THOMAS CUNNINGHAM; PHILLIP PEPPERS; LYLE GAYTON; OFFICER BUGGS; AND OFFICER MALONE, DEFENDANTS.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Aspen, District Judge:

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Presently before the Court are plaintiff's motion for attorneys' fees, her motion for a turn over order and her motion for supplemental costs. For reasons set forth below, plaintiff's motions are granted.

In Mary Beth G. and Sharon N. v. City of Chicago, 723 F.2d 1263 (7th Cir. 1983), the Seventh Circuit held that because plaintiff was successful on her central claim for relief in the instant matter, which challenged improper strip searches by the Chicago Police Department, she is entitled to reasonable attorney's fees. Id. at 1278.*fn1 Citing Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 103 S.Ct. 1933, 76 L.Ed.2d 40 (1983), the Court added that hours spent on false arrest and excessive force claims, upon which plaintiff did not prevail, should be excluded from a fee award. Id. at 1280. Time spent on a petition for mandamus, however, is compensable. Id. at 1281.*fn2 In remanding this matter to us, the Court provided detailed guidance for our inquiry:

  the court might well begin by determining the
  number of hours actually worked that were
  reasonably necessary to the successful claim,
  thereby excluding excessive or redundant time,
  and then multiplying this figure by a reasonable
  hourly rate for each attorney who worked on the
  case. The reasonableness of the hourly rate
  "should be measured according to the normal rate
  in the legal community for substantially similar
  work by competent practitioners. The resulting
  amount can then be adjusted according to several
  factors, including the experience of the
  attorneys, the difficulty of

  the questions presented, the customary fee, and
  whether the fee is fixed or contingent. In
  particular, Hensley emphasizes that courts must
  give considerable attention to "the relationship
  between the extent of success and the amount of the
  fee award," especially when the plaintiff has
  succeeded on only some of his or her claims. If the
  trial court determines that the amount of the fee
  after the initial calculations is "unreasonable" in
  light of the level of success, then it should make
  an upward or downward adjustment. Finally, the
  court should provide a clear explanation of its
  reasons for the amount of the award it grants.

Id. at 1281 (citations omitted).*fn3

Plaintiff claims that her attorneys worked a total of 1,144.20 hours; multiplying this by various hourly rates yields a total of $128,976.25. Plaintiff also seeks a fifty percent multiplier, for a total fee request of $193,464.38. Defendants have raised several objections to plaintiff's fee request. They claim that thirty-one and one-half hours, which involved unsuccessful claims and which were deleted from plaintiff's original fee request, have not been deleted in the current request. Other entries also allegedly relate to unsuccessful claims, involve "clerical functions" or are duplicative. Defendants point out that in the original petition, attorneys Singer and Stein sought an hourly rate of $125, but that they presently seek $150 per hour for their work. The fees plaintiff seeks are excessive, according to defendants, in light of plaintiff's $30,000 verdict. Finally, defendants object to the use of a fifty percent multiplier.

We first consider whether any of the hours claimed by plaintiff's attorneys are excessive or redundant. Defendants' contention that plaintiff has failed to delete hours spent by her attorneys upon unsuccessful claims is incorrect. Plaintiff deleted over fifty hours from the original fee request to account for unsuccessful claims. Our review of plaintiff's attorneys' original time sheets convinces us that no further reductions for unsuccessful claims are necessary. As the Seventh Circuit recently observed, an award of attorneys' fees may include time spent on unsuccessful claims to the extent such time would have been spent in connection with successful claims, even if the unsuccessful claims had not been brought.*fn4 Johnson ex rel. Johnson v. Brelje, 701 F.2d 1201, 1211 (7th Cir. 1983), citing Busche v. Burkee, 649 F.2d 509, 521 (7th Cir. 1981), cert. denied, 454 U.S. 897, 102 S.Ct. 396, 70 L.Ed.2d 212 (1981).

We also decline to reduce plaintiff's attorneys' hours in both the original time sheets and the supplemental time sheets to exclude time spent on conferences and upon what defendants term "clerical matters." Plaintiff has already deleted some of those hours, and we agree with the assertion that work in conferences may indeed involve substantive matters. Furthermore, plaintiff thoroughly accounted for the entries challenged by defendants in her reply memorandum.

Turning to the hourly rates sought by attorneys Singer and Stein, we begin by observing that the present case has been vigorously litigated. Mr. Stein and Ms. Singer have extensive experience in civil rights litigation, the instant case is clearly significant and the results counsel obtained are important. The fee from the client, moreover, was contingent. In light of these factors, an award of $150 per hour for their work is reasonable, notwithstanding their previous request for $125 hourly rate. Awarding fees at current rates are appropriate in this matter, which stretches back to 1978. As one court has observed, compensation in present rates accounts

  for two factors: first, rising overhead and
  expenses have forced attorneys to increase their
  fees over the past four years and second,
  increasing inflation has reduced the purchasing
  power of the dollars earned in a prior year but
  not received until the present.

McPherson v. School District # 186, 465 F. Supp. 749, 759 (S.D.Ill. 1978). The hourly rate of $150 is in accord with the normal rate in the legal community for work of this nature. The fees requested by other attorneys involved in the case are also reasonable.

Turning to the final factor we must consider, neither an upward nor a downward adjustment of the fee amount in the present case is warranted. The award of a multiplier is a matter within this Court's discretion and should not be done lightly. In re Illinois Congressional Districts Reapportionment Cases, 704 F.2d 380, 382 (7th Cir. 1983). We also observe that a contingent fee was involved, that plaintiff achieved excellent results and that her counsel performed with exceptional ability. We also believe that the present fee, with the hourly rates we have decided to award, is reasonable in light of plaintiff's success. Our conclusion is reinforced by the size of plaintiff's verdict, and the fact that other employment by her attorneys was not precluded by this litigation. We thus decline to apply a multiplier in this case. As the Seventh Circuit has observed, compensation for the quality of attorneys' services is reflected in hourly rates; a contingent fee alone, moreover, does not justify awarding a multiplier. Johnson ex rel. Johnson v. Brelje, 701 F.2d 1201, 1212 (7th Cir. 1983).

Accordingly, we award plaintiff $128,976.25 in attorneys' fees.*fn5 It is so ordered.*fn6


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Official citation and/or docket number and footnotes (if any) for this case available with purchase.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.