The opinion of the court was delivered by: ARLANDER KEYS, Magistrate Judge
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Currently before the Court is Plaintiffs' Petition for Additional
Fees and Costs. The law firm of Edelman, Combs & Latturner, LLC
("ECL") has petitioned the Court, pursuant to Section 10a(c) of the
Illinois Consumer Fraud Act for that portion of the fees and expenses
which were attributable to its efforts to enforce compliance with the
terms of the settlement agreement signed on or about June 15, 2001. For
the reasons set forth below, Plaintiffs' Petition is granted in part and
denied in part.
Plaintiffs filed a class action lawsuit on January 11, 2000 to secure
redress for alleged violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1981-1982 and the Illinois
Consumer Fraud Act, 815 ILCS 505/2. Prior to filing the original
complaints, ECL agreed to represent plaintiffs on a contingency basis. As
part of this contingency agreement, ECL agreed to advance the costs and
litigation expenses and to receive fees in an amount to be agreed upon
among the parties through a settlement agreement or in an amount to be
awarded by the Court.
On November 28, 2000, the case was referred to this Court for a
settlement conference. On January 26, 2001, the settlement conference was
held. In connection with the settlement conference, the parties drafted a
Settlement Agreement (the "Agreement") which includes a Consent Decree
(the "Decree"). On or about June 15, 2001, defendants and plaintiffs
finalized and signed the Agreement. The Agreement provided, in part, that
defendants would make various improvements at the cemeteries over a
two-year period ending in August 2003. Pursuant to the Decree, within
thirty (30) days of the signing of the Agreement, defendants paid ELC
$40,000 in attorneys' fees and costs.
On June 5, 2002, plaintiffs, asserting that defendants were not making
the improvements mandated by the decree, filed a motion to enforce the
terms of the Agreement. A hearing was held on August 26, 2002 on
plaintiffs' motion to enforce the settlement agreement. On October 18,
2002, the Court found that defendants had substantially complied with
Parts I and II of the Decree, but that they had not substantially
complied with Part III of the Decree by the September 30, 2001 deadline
for those actions. The Court ordered that defendants would have sixty
days from the date of the Court's order to complete certain work that it
found should have been completed as of that time.
On June 9, 2003, plaintiffs filed a report with the Court, claiming
that defendants had fallen short of full compliance with the Decree,
which was set to expire two months later. On September 3, 2003, an
evidentiary hearing was held. On October 14, 2003, the Court issued an
Opinion and Order finding that defendants had substantially complied with
the Decree and denying plaintiffs' Motion to Enforce the Settlement
Agreement. Finding that much of defendants' compliance had only recently
been achieved and that it was prompted by the efforts of plaintiffs, the
Court indicated that it would consider awarding additional fees and costs
On October 23, 2003, plaintiffs filed a Petition for Additional Fees
and Costs. According to ELC, from the time of the signing of the
Agreement, until October 2003*fn1, the law firm incurred $42,077 in
additional fees and $2,368.96 in additional costs and litigation expenses
attributable to the plaintiffs' efforts to enforce compliance with the
terms of the settlement agreement.
Standards for Reviewing a Petition for Attorney's Fees in a Class
Fee calculation is considered to be an imprecise science, and the
numbers arrived at by a district court, figured to the last penny, may be
seen by counsel and others to convey an "impression of exactness" that is
illusory, even "delusive". Evans v. City of Evanston, 941 F.2d 473
(7th Cir. 1991). There is no one correct formula for determining a fee
award, and therefore a district court's calculation is anything but an
arithmetical exercise. Tomazzoli v. Sheedy, 804 F.2d 93
, 97 (7th Cir.
1986). Because there is no precise rule or formula for making attorney
determinations, a district court necessarily has discretion in choosing
among the various alternatives. Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424
436-37 (1983). So long as the method selected is not arbitrary and is
likely to arrive at a fair fee, it will not be disturbed on appeal.
Evans, 941 F.2d at 477. In determining the amount of a fee award, "the
fee applicant bears the burden of establishing entitlement to an award
and documenting the appropriate hours expended and hourly rates."
Hensley, 461 U.S. 424
, 437 (1983).
In Hensley, the Supreme Court explained that the most useful starting
point for determining the amount of a "reasonable fee" is "the number of
hours reasonably expended on the litigation multiplied by a reasonable
hourly rate." Id. at 433. This calculation, frequently referred to as the
"lodestar" figure, should provide an "objective basis" by which to value
a lawyer's services. The Supreme Court emphasized the use of "billing
judgment" by lawyers when deciding which hours are "properly billed to
one's adversary pursuant to statutory authority." Id. at 434. The Court
Counsel for the prevailing party should make a
good faith effort to exclude from a fee request
hours that are excessive, redundant, or otherwise
unnecessary, just as a lawyer in
private practice ethically is obligated to exclude
such hours from his fee submission. Id.
When "a fee petition is vague or inadequately documented," the Court "may
either strike . . . problematic entries or . . . reduce the proposed fee
by a reasonable percentage." Harper v. City of Chicago Heights,
223 F.3d 593, 605 (7th Cir. 2000); see also Ohio-Sealy Mattress Mfg. Co.
v. Sealy Inc., 776 F.2d 646, 658 (7th Cir. 1985) (upholding district
court's decision to reduce vague fee entries by 15%).
In their Petition, plaintiffs, who were paid $40,000 in fees and costs
under the terms of the settlement agreement, seek an award of additional
fees and expenses pursuant to Section 10a(c) of the Illinois Consumer
Fraud Act. Section 10a(c) provides that "in any action brought by a
person under this Section, the Court . . . may award, in addition to ...