The opinion of the court was delivered by: JAMES HOLDERMAN, District Judge
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
On December 23, 2003, plaintiff Josie Cruz ("Cruz"), filed a
two count complaint against defendant Globe Realty Management Co.
("Globe"), pursuant to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of
1973, 29 U.S.C. § 794. (Dkt. No. 1). Globe answered the complaint
and discovery proceeded in the case. (Dkt. No. 7). After a period
of discovery, and with the assistance of Magistrate Judge Ashman,
the parties in early March 2005 settled the case. Included in the
settlement agreement was Globe's agreement to install, among
other things, an outdoor ramp and an indoor wheelchair lift to
accommodate the residents, including Cruz, at 6920 South Crandon
Avenue. The agreed upon items were not installed in the building
in the time frame by the parties. Plaintiff Cruz, in turn, sought
an order to show cause which has now been resolved. (Dkt. Nos.
31, 34). On November 4, 2005, Cruz filed the pending motion
seeking compensation, attorneys fees' and costs resulting from
Globe's alleged breach of the parties' settlement agreement.
(Dkt. No. 35). For the reasons set forth below, Cruz's motion for
compensation, attorneys' fees and costs is granted. BACKGROUND
Cruz lives at 6920 South Crandon Avenue in Chicago, Illinois.
(Dkt. No. 36-2, at pg. 1). She has a physical disability and
relies on a motorized scooter for mobility. (Id.) 6920 South
Crandon is a multifamily apartment building owned by Globe that
receives a federal housing subsidy. (Id.) As alleged in Cruz's
initial complaint, 6920 South Crandon "was not accessible to
people with disabilities in that the front door could be entered
only by stairs. This in turn required Cruz to use an inconvenient
and, for her, dangerous delivery ramp leading to the basement."
(Dkt. No. 36-1 at pg. 1).
As mentioned above, after several months of discovery, the
parties entered into a settlement agreement dated March 3, 2005
and this court entered an agreed order of dismissal on March 15,
2005. (Dkt. Nos. 22, 23). This court's March 15, 2005 order: (1)
instructed the parties to comply with the terms of the March 3,
2005 settlement agreement, (2) explicitly stated that this court
retained jurisdiction for the purpose of enforcing the terms of
the settlement agreement through March 30, 2006, and (3)
otherwise dismissed the case with prejudice with each party to
bear its own attorneys' fees and costs. (Dkt. No. 23).
The settlement agreement required Globe to build an outdoor
concrete ramp and indoor wheelchair lift at the main, front
entrance of 6920 South Crandon Street by May 30, 2005. (Dkt. No.
36-2 at pg. 2). If Globe was unable to meet the May 30, 2005
deadline, Globe was required to inform Cruz's counsel in writing
of: (1) the efforts made to comply with the deadline, (2) the
reasons for the delay, (3) the date that Globe reasonably
expected to complete the work, and (4) the reasons why Globe
believed the work would be completed by that future time. (Id.
at pg. 2-3). The settlement agreement required the parties to endeavor in
good faith to informally resolve any differences over the
implementation of the settlement agreement. (Id. at pg. 3).
However, Cruz had a right to seek from this court any appropriate
remedies for any breaches of the settlement agreement by Globe if
the parties could not resolve their differences. (Id. at pg.
4). She was also authorized to seek attorneys' fees incurred for
any litigation that she had to undertake in response to a breach
by Globe. (Id.)
Although Globe promised in the settlement agreement to
completed the project by May 30, 2005, the project was not
completed until October 27, 2005. Cruz could not access her home
via the front entrance of 6920 South Crandon until the entire
project was completed because she needed both the wheelchair ramp
and lift for access. Cruz did not benefit from any partial
performance by Globe that occurred before October 27, 2005. Cruz
argues that Globe breached the settlement agreement through its
continued delays and the need for her to return to this court and
seek judicial assistance in enforcing the settlement agreement.
This court participated through the holding of status hearings
on August 2, 2005 and August 23, 2005, (Dkt. Nos. 27, 28),
granting Globe's motion for modification of the agreed order to
extend time for the completion of the project on October 6, 2005,
(Dkt. No. 33), and providing a forum for Cruz to file her October
4, 2005 motion for a rule to show cause why Globe should not be
held in contempt for violation of the settlement agreement. (Dkt.
On October 27, 2005, this court mooted Cruz's October 4, 2005
rule to show cause motion when Globe represented during the
status hearing that the wheelchair ramp and lift were both in
place and operational. (Dkt. No. 34). Despite mooting Cruz's
motion, this court did, however, allow Cruz leave to file the
present motion for compensation, attorneys' fees and costs at the October 27, 2005 status hearing. (Id.)
Cruz argues in her present motion that "[i]n resolving [her
initial lawsuit], and in exchange for immediate safe access to
her building, [she] gave up remedies she could have otherwise
sought at trial, including compensatory damages. . . . Despite
this agreement, however, [Cruz] did not realize the benefits of
this exchange for over six months and only after [this court's]
intervention." (Dkt. No. 36-1 at pg. 2). Cruz seeks $14,139.54 in
attorneys' fees and costs and $8,000.00 in compensatory damages
for Globe's alleged violation of the March 3, 2005 settlement
agreement. (Dkt. No. 36-1 at pg. 1). Globe counters that Cruz's
motion should be denied because Cruz is not a "prevailing party,"
most of Cruz's requested fees and costs are not reasonable, and
Cruz is not entitled to compensatory damages because the
agreement was never breached.
A. The Court's Subject Matter Jurisdiction
"Settlement agreements are contracts," Seymour v. Hug, No. 04
C 2041, 2005 WL 3019418, at *13 (N.D. Ill. Nov. 8, 2005) (citing
Laserage Tech. Corp. v. Laserage Lab. Inc., 972 F.2d 799, 802
(7th Cir. 1992); McCall-Bey v. Franzen, 777 F.2d 1178, 1186
(7th Cir. 1985)), and "[d]isputes about settlement contracts must
be resolved in state court, unless they independently satisfy the
requirements of federal jurisdiction." Goulding v. Global Med.
Prod. Holdings, Inc., 394 F.3d 466, 467-68 (7th Cir. 2005)
(citing Peacock v. Thomas, 516 U.S. 349 (1996); Kokkonen v.
Guardian Life Ins. Co. of America, 511 U.S. 375 (1994)). "A
settlement agreement, unless it is embodied in a consent decree
or some other judicial order or unless jurisdiction to enforce
the agreement is retained (meaning that the suit has not been
dismissed with prejudice), is enforced just like any other contract." Lynch, Inc. v. SamataMason Inc.,
279 F.3d 487, 489 (7th Cir. 2002) (emphasis in original) (citing
Kokkonen, 511 U.S. at 380-81; Jessup v. Luther, 277 F.3d 926,
929 (7th Cir. 2002)).
The parties' March 3, 2005 settlement agreement required that
the order dismissing the action shall state that this court
retains jurisdiction. (Dkt. No. 36-2 at pg. 10). This court's
March 15, 2005 agreed order explicitly noted that the court was
retaining jurisdiction for the purposes of enforcing the terms of
the settlement agreement through March 30, 2006. (Dkt. No. 23 at
¶ 2). This court has subject ...