"collection costs" within the context of a contractual agreement between private parties.
Philips alleges that the reference in the Commitment Letter to "collection costs" is identical in form and substance to a contractual provision permitting the recovery of "costs" or "expenses." The court, however, is loath to interpret a contractual term in a manner that would render such term meaningless. In the instant case, Boulevard did not employ the term "costs" or "expenses" when they drafted the Commitment Letter; it chose instead the more expansive "collection costs." The court believes that this broad language is sufficiently clear to manifest the intent of the parties to remove this phrase from the technical meaning of court fees, which defendant now urges upon the court. Although Boulevard could have used the terms "attorneys' fees" or "counsel fees," the terms "collection costs" are sufficiently clear so that reasonable persons would believe the terms included attorneys' fees. See BLACK's LAW DICTIONARY 312 (5th ed. 1979) ("costs of collection" as used in connection with promissory notes "is synonymous with attorney's fees"). The court finds that the terms "collection costs" express the intent of the parties, at the time that the Collection Letter was signed, to provide for the reimbursement of Boulevard's attorneys' fees in the event Boulevard was forced to litigate the enforcement of Philips' guaranty. See Meeker v. Fowler, 35 Ill. App. 3d 313, 341 N.E.2d 412 (1976) ("collection charges" includes attorneys' fees); cf. First Nat. Bank & Trust v. Wissmiller, 182 Ill. App. 3d 481, 538 N.E.2d 190, 131 Ill. Dec. 2 (1989) (court awarded "collection costs, including reasonable attorney fees"); WrenField Homeowners Ass'n, Inc. v. DeYoung, 410 Pa. Super. 621, 600 A.2d 960 (1991) (phrase "costs of collection" includes attorneys' fees; the two expressions are interchangeable); McClain v. Continental Supply, 66 Okl. 225, 168 P. 815 (1917) (the following provisions have the same meaning: "attorney's fees," "collection fees," "costs of collection," and "expenses of collection"). Under the Commitment Letter, Boulevard is entitled to collect all its expenses, including attorneys' fees, disbursements, and costs, incurred through January 13, 1993, in its efforts to force Philips to comply with its guaranty agreement.
Philips contends that, even if attorneys' fees are awarded in this litigation, Boulevard's attorneys have not presented sufficient evidence from which the court can determine the reasonableness of the fees requested. Despite Philips contention, the court finds Boulevard's attorneys' time statements to be an adequate, detailed, contemporaneous record, sufficient to render a finding of reasonableness. The descriptions of the services performed by Boulevard's attorneys contain the requisite degree of specificity necessary for the court to determine the time expended on each task performed, who performed them, how they related to the litigation and whether they were necessarily required; accordingly, the court finds the fee descriptions reasonable and compensable.
For the foregoing reasons, the court's order dated January 13, 1993, is amended to include interest accrued and collection costs incurred through January 13, 1993. Accordingly, the defendants, Philips Medical Systems International B.V. and N.V. Philips' Gloeilampenfabrieken are jointly and severally ordered to pay Boulevard the following amounts: $ 985,998.79 in principal due under the Guaranty; $ 36,469.86 in interest due under the Guaranty as of January 13, 1993, plus interest that has accrued subsequent to that date; and collection costs that, through January 13, 1993, amount to $ 208,801.05.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
CHARLES RONALD NORGLE, SR., Judge
United States District Court
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