United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division
November 27, 2002
RKI, INC., D/B/A ROLL-KRAFT, PLAINTIFF,
STEVEN GRIMES, AND CHICAGO ROLL CO., INC., ET AL., DEFENDANTS.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Morton Denlow, United States Magistrate Judge.
Plaintiff RKI, Inc. has filed an Amended Bill of Costs seeking costs in
the amount of $10,010.10. Defendant Chicago Roll has filed objections
thereto. Plaintiff seeks fees of the Clerk in the amount of $180.00. The
Court agrees with the Defendant that this amount should be reduced to
$150.00. RKI seeks $663.50 for fees for service of summons and subpoena.
The Court deducts $180.00 related to the service of a temporary
restraining order and approves $483.50. RKI seeks $6,616.35 for court
reporter and transcript fees. These fees are limited to $3.00 per page.
By reason of the charges in a greater amount and other lack of supporting
detail, the Court approves only $4,500.00 in this category. RKI seeks
$96.25 for witness fees for George Tracy. The Court approves this
request. RKI seeks $2,454.00 in copying fees. The Court reduces this by
50% due to insufficient supporting documentation to an amount of
$1,227.00. Accordingly, Plaintiffs are awarded court costs in the total
amount of $6,456.75.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
RKI, Inc., d/b/a Roll-Kraft ("Roll-Kraft") sued Steven Grimes
("Grimes") and Chicago Roll Co., Inc., ("Chicago Roll") (collectively
"Defendants") asserting five causes of action: (1) violation of the
Illinois Trade Secrets Act, 765 ILCS 1065/1 et seq.; 2) conversion; 3)
breach of the duty of loyalty owed by an employee; 4) breach of the
nondisclosure and non-solicitation covenants; and 5) tortious
interference with contract. Count I was directed against Grimes and
Chicago Roll; Counts 2, 3 and 4 were directed against Grimes and Count 5
was directed against Chicago Roll.
Following a bench trial, this Court entered judgment in favor of
Roll-Kraft and against Defendants on all five counts. RKI, Inc. v.
Grimes, 177 F. Supp.2d 859 (N.D. Ill. 2001). This Court held Roll-Kraft
was entitled to recover attorney's fees, Id. at 880. Thereafter,
Defendants filed a motion for new trial or to alter or amend judgment
which was also denied. RKI, Inc. v. Grimes, 200 F. Supp.2d 916 (N.D.
Ill. 2002). To the extent there is any question, the Court finds that the
Defendants engaged in a willful and malicious misappropriation of
Roll-Kraft's trade secrets. 765 ILCS 1065/5. Roll-Kraft now seeks to
recover a total of $288,359.43 for attorney's fees ($281,373.00)*fn1 and
research ($6,986.43) against Chicago Roll.*fn2
I. REASONABLE ATTORNEY'S FEES
Roll-Kraft bears the burden of proving the reasonableness of its
attorney's fees. Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 437 (1983). The
process of determining a proper fee award begins with a calculation of the
"lodestar" — the number obtained by multiplying the number of hours
reasonably expended by a reasonable hourly rate. Eddleman v,
Switchcraft, Inc., 965 F.2d 422, 424 (7th Cir. 1992). The Court may then
reduce or augment the lodestar based on a variety of factors: (1) the
time and labor required; (2) the novelty and difficulty of the question;
(3) the skill requisite to perform the legal service properly; (4) the
preclusion of employment by the attorney due to acceptance of the case;
(5) the customary fee; (6) whether the fee is fixed or contingent; (7)
any time limitations imposed by the circumstances; (8) the amount
involved and the results obtained; and (9) the experience, reputation,
and ability of the attorneys. Hensley, 461 U.S. at 441. Finally, the
degree of a party's overall success is critical in determining the
reasonableness of a fee award. Farrar v. Hobby, 506 U.S. 103, 114
(1992). The standard is whether the fees are reasonable in relation to
the difficulty, stakes, and outcome of the case, Bankston v. State of
Illinois, 60 F.3d 1249, 1256 (7th Cir. 1995).
A. Hourly Rate
The first step in calculating the lodestar is to determine a reasonable
hourly rate. Reasonable hourly rates are determined by the prevailing
market rates in the relevant community. Blum v. Stevenson, 465 U.S. 886,
895 (1984). "The market rate is the rate that lawyers of similar ability
and experience in the community normally charge their paying clients for
the type of work in question." Bankston v. State of Illinois, 60 F.3d 1249,
1256 (7th Cir. 1995). The Court has reviewed the affidavits of
Roll-Kraft's counsel and finds that the hourly rates for the partners
ranging from $265-$290 per hour, the associates ranging from $135-$220
per hour, and paralegal and docket clerk rates are reasonable. Chicago
Roll does not object to the hourly rates charged.
B. Reasonableness of the Hours Worked
Roll-Kraft seeks $234,442.50 for its work on the merits of the case,
$43,996.00 for services in connection with its fee petitions, $2,934.50
for fees incurred relating to settlement discussions and $6,986.43 for
computerized research for a total of $288,359.43. Roll-Kraft has excluded
from its request $39,898.50 in time which was expended on claims other
than the Illinois Trade Secrets Act claims, $3,120.00 in fee write-off
that were not billed to Roll-Kraft, and $3,143.50 on time spent in
connection with the Grimes bankruptcy proceeding.
Chicago Roll contends that the time records are inadequate because they
do not adequately detail the amount of time spent on each activity on
each day and contain vague and unclear descriptions. Quite the contrary.
records are comprehensive and reasonably inform the Court of the
activities performed. The Court finds the time records adequately
document the services performed. While the time spent on different tasks
is not separated, the descriptions are comprehensive and are sufficient
to enable the Court to determine their reasonableness and to enable
Chicago Roll to object to specific types of work they believe to be
This Court recognizes that Roll-Kraft is only entitled to compensation
for the time spent in furtherance of the specific action for which fees
are allowed. Where, as here, Roll-Kraft is successful on one or more
claims all based on a common core of facts counsel can collect fees for
the litigation directed against defendant Chicago Roll. Rosario v.
Livaditis, 963 F.2d 1013, 1019 (7th Cir. 1992); Becovic v. City of
Chicago, 694 N.E.2d 1044, 1048 (Ill.App. 1st Dist. 1998) (applying
Illinois law). Roll-Kraft has excluded the time devoted to claims other
than the trade secret claim. The Court finds the exclusion to be proper.
The Court rejects Chicago Roll's argument that the fees should be divided
by five because there were five counts involved.
Chicago Roll further objects that there was duplication of effort.
Roll-Kraft staffed this case with two experienced partners because it
proceeded on an expedited basis. This Court finds the staffing was
appropriate given the extensive amount of work required in the short time
allowed. There may have been some slight duplication and in the exercise
of discretion the Court reduces the fees on the merits from $234,442.50
to $225,000. In addition, the Court exercises its discretion to reduce
the amount of fees on the fee petition and settlement from $46,931 to
$40,000. The Court also reduces the computerized legal research charges
from $6,986.43 to $3,500 because of confusion surrounding the charges. In
the Matter of Continental Illinois Securities Litigation, 962 F.2d 566,
570 (7th Cir. 1992) (computerized research costs are recoverable).
C. The Results Obtained
Roll-Kraft won on all counts. Chicago Roll lost on the two counts
directed at it. Roll-Kraft obtained substantial relief in this hard
fought litigation. A fee award of $268,500 is reasonable. Tuf Racing
Products, Inc. v. American Suzuki Motorcorp, 223 F.3d 585 (7th Cir. 2000)
(affirms $391,000 fee award where jury awards $137,000 in damages). By
separate minute order the Court awards court costs in the amount of
Roll-Kraft's counsel did an excellent job in prosecuting this case.
They conducted themselves in a professional manner, demonstrated great
skill and achieved an excellent result for their client in a difficult
case. Accordingly, the Court grants Roll-Kraft's petition for attorney's
fees and supplemental petition for attorney's fees in the amount of
$268,500. The Clerk shall enter judgment in favor of Plaintiff RKI, Inc.
d/b/a Roll-Kraft and against Defendant Chicago Roll Co., Inc. in the
amount of $274,956.75 for attorney's fees and court costs.