Name of Assigned Judge Sitting Judge if Other or Magistrate Judge Amy J. St. Eve than Assigned Judge
The Court, in its discretion, awards Plaintiff's counsel $22,815.00 in attorney's fees based on counsel's limited success.
O[ For further details see text below.] Notices mailed by Judicial staff.
On November 2, 2010, after a two-day trial, a jury returned a verdict in favor of Plaintiff Chris DeCola and against Defendant Porfirio Santiago as to DeCola's excessive force claim. See 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The jury awarded DeCola $1,000 in compensatory damages for this excessive force claim, but did not award any punitive damages. Meanwhile, the jury returned a verdict in favor of Defendant Kevin Keel on DeCola's excessive force claim, in favor of Defendants Keel and Santiago on DeCola's battery claim, and in favor of Defendant Keel on DeCola's failure to intervene claim. Before the Court is DeCola's petition pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 1988(b) in which his counsel seeks $45,630.00 in attorney's fees. For the following reasons, the Court, in its discretion, awards Plaintiff's counsel $22,815.00 in attorney's fees based on counsel's limited success. See Perdue v. Kenny A. ex rel. Winn, ___ U.S. ___, 130 S.Ct. 1662, 1676, 176 L.Ed.2d 494 (2010) ("Determining a 'reasonable attorney's fee' is a matter that is committed to the sound discretion of a trial judge."); Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 434, 103 S.Ct. 1933, 76 L.Ed.2d 40 (1983) (courts may reduce attorney's fees awards based on the results obtained).
"Section 1988 provides that a prevailing party in certain civil rights actions may recover 'a reasonable attorney's fee as part of the costs.'" Perdue, 130 S.Ct. at 1671 ("Congress enacted 42 U.S.C. § 1988 in order to ensure that federal rights are adequately enforced."). "A party is considered prevailing for § 1988 purposes when the court enters final judgment in its favor on some portion of the merits of its claims." Zessar v. Keith, 536 F.3d 788, 795 (7th Cir. 2008). Put differently, "to be deemed a prevailing party, there must be a 'material alteration in the legal relationship of the parties.'" Walker v. Calumet City, Ill., 565 F.3d 1031, 1033-34 (7th Cir. 2009) (citation omitted); see also Buckhannon Bd. & Care Home, Inc. v. West Va. Dep't of Health & Human Res., 532 U.S. 598, 605, 121 S.Ct. 1835, 149 L.Ed.2d 855 (2001) (party prevails when "plaintiff has received a judgment on the merits").
When determining whether attorney's fees are reasonable, the Court considers the lodestar figure, namely, "the number of hours reasonably expended on the litigation multiplied by a reasonable hourly rate." Sottoriva v. Claps, 617 F.3d 971, 975 (7th Cir. 2010) (quoting Hensley, 461 U.S. at 433). As the Hensley Court explained:
The product of reasonable hours times a reasonable rate does not end the inquiry. There remain other considerations that may lead the district court to adjust the fee upward or downward, including the important factor of the "results obtained." This factor is particularly crucial where a plaintiff is deemed "prevailing" even though he succeeded on only some of his claims for relief.
Hensley, 461 U.S. at 434; see also Enoch ex rel. Enoch v. Tienor, 570 F.3d 821, 824 (7th Cir. 2009) (district courts must consider results obtained in awarding fees). Accordingly, if a "plaintiff prevails on only some of his interrelated claims, Hensley instructs that the 'district court may attempt to identify specific hours that should be eliminated, or it may simply reduce the award to ...