United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
May 4, 2005.
DANIEL S. KIRSCHENBAUM, Plaintiff-Appellant,
LAURA L. HUMPHREY, Defendant-Appellee.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: RONALD GUZMAN, District Judge
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
On March 17, 2005, the Court granted Humphrey's motion for
sanctions pursuant to Federal Rule of Bankruptcy Procedure
("Rule") 8020 for Kirschenbaum's filing of a frivolous appeal.
Humphrey has filed an accounting of the attorney's fees and costs
she expended to defend the bankruptcy appeal and to prosecute the
motion for sanctions. For the reasons set forth below, the Court
determines that $16,912.49 is an appropriate sanction in this case.
Rule 8020 permits the Court to "award just damages and single
or double costs" to Humphrey as a sanction for Kirschenbaum's
pursuit of this frivolous appeal. Humphrey's $24,048.71 sanction
request is comprised of $23,820.00 for attorney's fees (79.40
hours at $300.00 per hour) and $228.71 for costs.
As an initial matter, the Court reiterates its view that
counsel's hourly rate, which is what he customarily charges
clients, is reasonable. (See 7/29/04 Mem. Op. & Order at
12-13.) Moreover, most of the time he expended was reasonable as
well. There are some exceptions, however. Humphrey's submission
indicates, for example, that her counsel spent 43.75 hours
preparing her appeal brief. Given the fact that counsel had
previously briefed the issues before the bankruptcy court, thirty
hours should have been sufficient to accomplish that task.
Similarly, it should not have taken counsel 17.90 hours to review
Kirschenbaum's response to the sanctions motion and prepare
Humphrey's reply. Since counsel spent only nine hours preparing
the initial motion for sanctions, he should have been able to
prepare the reply in no more than eight. In all other respects,
the time counsel expended is reasonable. Thus, we will deduct
only 23.65 hours, or $7,095.00, from Humphrey's fee request.
Plaintiff also seeks $228.71 for costs she incurred for copies,
postage and overnight shipping in connection with the appeal and
the sanctions motion. Humphrey does not explain, however, why
overnight shipping was necessary. Absent some explanation for the
use of that service, we cannot deem it reasonable. Thus, the
costs for overnight shipping, a total of $41.22, will be deducted
from Humphrey's request.
In sum, the Court finds that $16,912.49 ($16,725.00 [55.75
hours × $300.00 per hour] in fees and $187.49 [$228.71-$41.22
overnight shipping] in costs) is a reasonable sanction under Rule
8020 for Kirschenbaum's filing of this frivolous appeal. Conclusion
For the foregoing reasons, Kirschenbaum is ordered to pay
Humphrey a total of $16,912.49 as a sanction under Rule 8020 for
filing this frivolous appeal within fourteen days of the date of
this Memorandum Opinion and Order. This case is hereby
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