Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

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

COSTON v. PLITT THEATRES

August 31, 1989

SAM T. COSTON, Plaintiff,
v.
PLITT THEATRES, INC., a corporation, Defendant



The opinion of the court was delivered by: ASPEN

 MARVIN E. ASPEN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

 In March of this year, after six years of litigation, two trips to the Seventh Circuit, and one trip to the United States Supreme Court, the plaintiff, Sam T. Coston, settled the remaining substantive issue in his Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA") suit against Plitt Theatres, Inc. Despite this settlement, some important loose ends remain. In particular, Coston and Plitt reserved three collateral issues for this court: attorney's fees, costs, and an award of interest on Coston's settlement award. The parties have now briefed these issues, and for the reasons set forth below, we award attorney's fees in the amount of $ 117,553.50 and costs in the amount of $ 1,886.76. We deny the request for interest.

 I. Background

 A. Original Proceedings in the District Court

 Coston originally brought suit against Plitt in January 1983. The case was assigned to Judge Stanley J. Roszkowski, and in March 1984, a jury found for Coston, and in a special interrogatory, found that Plitt's discrimination was willful. The jury verdict did not resolve all the issues, so in October 1984, Judge Roszkowski awarded Coston $ 77,420.10 in back pay and $ 72,023.30 in liquidated damages for the willful violation of the ADEA. However, Judge Roszkowski denied Coston's request for frontpay or reinstatement and his request for pre-judgment interest. Both sides then filed post-trial motions, and in December 1984, Coston petitioned for attorney's fees. In June 1986, the Court granted Coston's post-trial motion in part, denied it in part, and denied Plitt's post-trial motion in its entirety. The court also ruled that the award of post-judgment interest would run from the date of the verdict rather than the date of the final judgment. Later that same month, the court granted Coston all of the hours he had requested in attorney's fees, but refused his request for the use of a multiplier, and awarded fees in the amount of $ 35,408.50 both for the trial and for the post-trial motions.

 B. Seventh Circuit -- Coston I

 Plitt then appealed to the Seventh Circuit, challenging the discrimination verdict, the finding of willfulness, the computation of liquidated damages for the willfulness award and the amount of attorney's fees. In turn, Coston filed a cross-appeal on the denial of reinstatement, frontpay, and prejudgment interest. The Seventh Circuit denied Coston's entire cross-appeal, and denied Plitt's challenges to the discrimination and the willfulness verdicts. However, the Court also reversed Judge Roszkowski's calculation of liquidated damages, and remanded for a recalculation. According to the Court, amounts earned in mitigation of the backpay award must be deducted before doubling for liquidated damages, rather than after doubling. In this case, based on the facts that Judge Roszkowski already found, the Seventh Circuit's method of calculation would have resulted in a liquidated damages award equal to the compensatory award, $ 37,420.10. *fn1" The court also upheld the award of fees in its entirety, even though Coston had been unsuccessful on his demands for reinstatement and frontpay. Coston v. Plitt Theatres, Inc., 831 F.2d 1321 (7th Cir. 1987) (" Coston I ").

 C. The Supreme Court

 Plitt petitioned for a writ of certiorari to the United States Supreme Court. It is not clear from the materials before us what issues Plitt challenged in its petition. After Plitt's petition, Coston filed his own petition for certiorari, apparently only on the limited issue of how liquidated damages should be calculated. In April 1988, the Supreme Court denied Coston's petition for a writ of certiorari. 485 U.S. 1007, 108 S. Ct. 1471, 99 L. Ed. 2d 700 (1988). In May 1988, the Court granted Plitt's petition, vacated the entire judgment, and remanded the case for further consideration in light of McLaughlin v. Richland Shoe Co., 486 U.S. 128, 108 S. Ct. 1677, 100 L. Ed. 2d 115 (1988). 486 U.S. 1020, 108 S. Ct. 1990, 100 L. Ed. 2d 223 (1988).

 D. Seventh Circuit -- Coston II

 On remand, the Seventh Circuit readopted its original opinion in Coston I on all issues but two. First, the Court concluded that its standard for willful violations of the ADEA -- which was first announced in Syvock v. Milwaukee Boiler Manufacturing Co., 665 F.2d 149 (7th Cir. 1981), adopted by Judge Roszkowski in his jury instructions at trial, and reaffirmed in Coston I -- could no longer stand in light of the Supreme Court's decision in Richland Shoe. Accordingly, the Court overruled Syvock and remanded for retrial on the issue of willfulness. Second, because Coston was "no longer the 'prevailing party' as to all issues appealed," the Seventh Circuit directed the trial court to redetermine the award of attorneys' fees for redetermination at the end of the new trial. 860 F.2d 834 (7th Cir. 1988) (" Coston II ").

 E. Return to the Trial Court

 After remand, this case was reassigned to our calendar. In December 1988, Plitt satisfied Coston's reinstated backpay award by paying him $ 61,123.37, which represents the $ 37,420.10 originally awarded plus interest from the date of judgment. From this award, Coston paid his attorney based on the contingent fee agreement that he had signed. In March 1989, the parties agreed to a settlement of the remaining substantive issue, the claim of willfulness, with Plitt paying Coston $ 28,500. Coston paid his attorney a percentage of the settlement, again based on the contingent fee. The parties, however, reserved certain issues for our decision, specifically, attorney's fees, costs and an award of interest on the settlement amount. It is to those issues that we now turn.

 II. Attorney's Fees

 A. What Law Applies

 Section 7(b) of the ADEA, 29 U.S.C. § 626(b), by incorporating 29 U.S.C. § 216(b), provides for an award of attorney's fees and costs where a judgment is awarded to the plaintiff. Even though they are not directly applicable, courts often apply decisions under the Civil Rights Attorney's Fees Award Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1988, to requests for fees under the ADEA. See Kossman v. Calumet County, 849 F.2d 1027, 1031 (7th Cir. 1988). This case is no ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

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