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ROBINSON v. ILLINOIS OFFICE OF BANKS AND REAL ESTATE

January 17, 2003

BRIAN ROBINSON, RALPH KING, R.J. HARVEY AND DENNIS WELLS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
STATE OF ILLINOIS OFFICE OF BANKS AND REAL ESTATE AND WILLIAM A. DARR, COMMISSIONER, IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY, DEFENDANTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Wayne R. Andersen, United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

This case is before the Court on the motion of plaintiffs for an award of attorney's fees and costs. Also before the Court is the defendants' motion for a bill of costs. For the following reasons, we grant in part and deny in part plaintiffs motion for an award of attorney's fees and costs. We grant in part and deny in part defendants' motion for a bill of costs.

BACKGROUND

In this case, four African-American employees of the Office of Banks and Real Estate ("OBRE") alleged that OBRE engaged in a pattern of race discrimination against African-American employees. After a trial, the jury concluded that defendants had intentionally discriminated against plaintiffs R.J. Harvey and Ralph King and awarded them damages. Plaintiff King was awarded $304,170.00 and plaintiff Harvey was awarded $130,000.00. The court entered judgment in favor of these two plaintiffs. The jury found against another plaintiff, Brian Robinson, and a fourth plaintiff, Dennis Wells, had his claims dismissed by the Court.

I. Plaintiffs' Motion For Attorney's Fees and Costs

Plaintiffs R.J. Harvey and Ralph King have moved for attorneys fees in the amount of $602,346.50 and expenses in the amount of $41,097.17 because they prevailed at trial over the defendant OBRE on their claims of race discrimination and retaliation. Defendants dispute plaintiffs' fee and expense amounts.

The Civil Rights Attorney's Fees Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1988. was enacted by Congress to encourage representation of plaintiffs in civil rights cases. The threshold issue in determining whether fees should be awarded is whether a party has attained "prevailing party" status. Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 433 (1983). A plaintiff prevails for purposes of Section 1988 when the plaintiff "succeed[s] on any significant issue in litigation which achieves some of the benefit the parties sought in bringing the suit." Id. at 433. A "prevailing party" is entitled to a reasonable attorney's fee. Id. in general, the amount of a reasonable attorney's fee in a civil rights case is calculated by multiplying the number of hours reasonably expended by the attorney's hourly rate (the "lodestar" method). Id.

In determining whether fees are recoverable, the question is simply "whether [the attorney's] actions were reasonable." People Who Care v. Rockford Bd. of Educ., 90 F.3d 1307, 1314 (7th Cir. 1996). Fees are calculated under the statute based upon market rates for the services rendered. Blum v. Stenson, 465 U.S. 886, 895 (1984); Small v. Richard Wolf Medical Instruments, Corp., 264 F.3d 702, 707 (7th Cir. 2001). The market rate for an attorneys s services 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." Small, 264 F.3d at 707.

Once a fee applicant comes forward with evidence establishing his rate, the burden shifts to the defendant to demonstrate why a lower rate should be awarded. Id. at 894. The defendant must present evidence establishing "a good reason why a lower rate is essential." People Who Care, 90 F.3d at 1313.

In this case, the parties have attempted to resolve their differences, but they disagree on the following issues:

1. Whether plaintiffs are entitled to fees and costs for the claims of co-plaintiffs Brian Robinson and Dennis Wells, neither of whom prevailed at trial, and The Kanhai Farrakhan, who was dismissed from this case before trial for failure to appear for his deposition;

2. Whether plaintiffs are entitled to $29,785.00 for drafting and presenting their losing motion for preliminary injunction for plaintiff Harvey;

3. Whether a $26,404.75 reduction in fees should be made to the fees claimed by plaintiff Harvey on the time spent concerning the relationship between Harvey and his immediate supervisor, Dea Brennan, because ...


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