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Atlas Copco Construction Mining Technique USA, LLC v. Indie Energy Services Company

March 31, 2010

ATLAS COPCO CONSTRUCTION MINING TECHNIQUE USA, LLC, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
INDIE ENERGY SERVICES COMPANY, LLC, ET AL. DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Samuel Der-yeghiayan, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

This matter is before the court on the issue of damages. For the reasons stated below, we award Plaintiffs $522,313.81 in damages.

BACKGROUND

On December 2, 2009, we granted Plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment on all claims and denied Defendants' motion for summary judgment on all claims. We then gave the parties time to file memorandums on the issue of damages and the parties filed such memorandums. Defendants have not opposed a resolution of the damages issue based on the memorandums and have argued in their memorandum and supplemental memorandum that the court should reduce the damages amount sought by Plaintiffs. Plaintiffs seek as damages: (1) $230,559.03, which is the outstanding balance on the account for the Atlas Copco drill, model number T2W (T2W), (2) $10,872.00, which is the outstanding balance on the account for the Atlas Copco compressor, model number XRVS 976CD (Compressor), which includes a reduction for the resale value, (3) $98,660.84, which is the outstanding balance on the account for the Atlas Copco drill, model number TH60 (TH60), which includes a reduction for the resale value, (4) $56,448.93, which is the outstanding balance on Defendants' consumables account, (5) $86,121.50 in attorneys' fees, (6) $1,486.00 in legal-related costs, and (7) $90,240.51 in mitigation costs and expenses, for a total damages award request of $547,388.81.

LEGAL STANDARD

A court should begin its assessment of a request for attorneys' fees under "the lodestar method, which is calculated by multiplying a reasonable hourly rate by the number of hours reasonably expended." Gastineau v. Wright, 592 F.3d 747, 748 (7th Cir. 2010). In assessing a request for attorneys' fees, the court should also "consider[] the proportionality of attorneys' fees to the total damage award as a factor in determining the overall reasonableness of the fee request." A. Bauer Mechanical, Inc. v. Joint Arbitration Bd. of Plumbing Contractors' Ass'n and Chicago Journeymen Plumbers' Local Union 130, U.A., 562 F.3d 784, 793 (7th Cir. 2009); see also Stark v. PPM America, Inc., 354 F.3d 666, 674 (7th Cir. 2004)(stating that "[h]ours spent are not reasonably expended if they are excessive, redundant, or otherwise unnecessary" and that "the hours claimed can be reduced by the number of hours spent litigating claims on which the party did not succeed to the extent they were distinct from claims on which the party did succeed"). In regard to a breach of contract claim, "[w]hen a contract is breached the injured party is, insofar as it is possible to do so by a monetary award, entitled to be placed in the position he would have been in had the contract been performed." Naiditch v. Shaf Home Builders, Inc., 512 N.E.2d 1027, 1040 (Ill. App. Ct. 1987).

DISCUSSION

I. Uncontested Damages

Defendants have not contested certain damages relating to the unpaid principal and interest on the four contracts, with reductions for the resale prices. Plaintiffs have shown that the outstanding balances on the four pertinent contract accounts, which account for setoffs for resold equipment, are $203,559.03, $10,872.00, $98,660.84, and $56,448.93, totaling $369,540.80. Plaintiffs have shown that such damages are recoverable and reasonable, and Plaintiffs have provided sufficient documentation concerning such damages.

II. Attorneys' Fees

Defendants initially argued that Plaintiffs' request for attorneys' fees should be denied because Plaintiffs failed to provide sufficient details concerning such fees, and because Plaintiffs were improperly seeking to recover fees relating to Defendants' counterclaim. Plaintiffs, at the time, contended that Defendants improperly provided redacted billing records to support their request for attorneys' fees and, therefore, Plaintiffs had failed to provide sufficient detail to warrant granting the request. Plaintiffs explained that they redacted the time entry descriptions in their filing in order to protect the attorney work-product disclosed therein. Plaintiffs also filed a motion seeking to submit unredacted copies of their billing records to the court in camera to allow the court to verify the records. We denied Plaintiffs' motion for an in camera review, gave Plaintiffs an opportunity to file a more detailed statement regarding the billing records, and gave Defendants an opportunity to file a supplemental memorandum in response. Plaintiffs and Defendants have filed such documents.

A. Fees Relating to Counterclaims

Defendants object to $5,395.00 in attorneys' fees that Defendants contend relate to Defendants' counterclaims. (D. Supp. Ans. 2). Defendants contend that such fees are beyond the contractual remedies available to Plaintiffs. Plaintiffs prevailed not only on their claims in this action, but on Defendants' counterclaims. Plaintiffs were required to overcome the counterclaims in order to enforce their contractual rights under the contracts. For example, one of Defendants' counterclaims alleged that Plaintiffs breached their contractual obligations by providing defective equipment to Defendants. (CC Par. 35). That alleged breach of the contract by Plaintiffs was provided by Defendants as their justification for not making payments to Plaintiffs. Thus, if Defendants prevailed on their counterclaims, Plaintiffs could not have prevailed as ...


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