United States District Court, C.D. Illinois, Peoria Division
ORDER AND OPINION
E. Shadid, Chief United States District Judge
before the Court is the Plaintiff, Jason Dallefeld's,
Petition for Attorney Fees, Expert Witness Fees, and Costs.
(D. 68). The Defendant, The Clubs at River City,
Inc., filed a Response (D. 72) and the Plaintiff filed a
Reply (D. 74). For the reasons set forth below, the
Plaintiff's Petition is GRANTED in part and DENIED in
Court and the parties have briefed the background of this
case extensively in several prior motions. What follows, are
portions of the background relevant to the pleadings
presently before the Court.
Plaintiff filed the instant suit in June 2015. (D. 1). He
claimed two violations of the Family and Medical Leave Act
(“FMLA”), 29 U.S.C. § 2601 et.
seq.; two violations of Title I of the Americans With
Disabilities Act of 1990, 42 U.S.C. § 1211 et.
seq.; and retaliatory discharge under Illinois common
law. (D. 1 at pg. 1). His claims involved a common core set
August 2017, the Court presided over the Plaintiff's jury
trial. The parties stipulated that if the Plaintiff
prevailed, the Court would determine his entitlement to
“lost compensation, the amount of interest, whether
liquidated damages should be reduced, front pay, and
reasonable attorney fees and costs of litigation.” (D.
45 at pg. 8). After the Plaintiff presented his case, the
Court ruled that one of his FMLA claims failed as a matter of
law. The jury subsequently found for the Plaintiff on his
other FMLA claim, and for the Defendant on the three
remaining counts. (D. 53). Thus, the Plaintiff was successful
in one out of five of his claims.
Plaintiff filed a Motion for Back Pay shortly after trial
concluded (D. 56), asserting that he was entitled to a host
of damages-in excess of $417, 000 (D. 57 at pg. 19). The
Court granted the Motion in part and denied it in part,
awarding him $12, 846.84 in back pay and benefits and $1,
430.62 in prejudgment interest. (D. 67). Shortly thereafter,
the Plaintiff filed the instant Petition, arguing that he is
entitled to recover $108, 994.32 in reasonable attorney fees
and litigation costs. (D. 68).
plaintiff has obtained a judgment on an FMLA claim, the Court
must allow the plaintiff to recover “a reasonable
attorney's fee, reasonable expert witness fees, and other
costs of the action to be paid by the defendant.” 29
U.S.C. § 2617(a)(3); Franzen v. Ellis Corp.,
543 F.3d 420, 430 (7th Cir. 2008). “The district court
may then, at its discretion, increase or reduce the  amount
by considering a variety of factors. If a district court
elects to reduce a fee award, it must provide a concise but
clear explanation of its reasons.” Baier v.
Rohr-Mont Motors, Inc., 175 F.Supp.3d 1000, 1019 (N.D.
Ill. 2016) (citing Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S.
424 (1983); Small v. Richard Wolf Med. Instruments
Corp., 264 F.3d 702, 708 (7th Cir. 2001)).
speaking, courts determine the reasonableness of
attorneys' fees using the “lodestar method”
articulated in Hensley. 461 U.S. at 433.
“There is a strong presumption that the lodestar
calculation yields a reasonable attorneys' fee
award.” Pickett v. Sheridan Health Care
Ctr., 664 F.3d 632, 639 (7th Cir. 2011) (citations
omitted). Under loadstar, the starting point for calculating
fees is “the number of hours reasonably expended on the
litigation multiplied by a reasonable hourly rate.”
Hensley, 461 U.S. at 433.
in determining the reasonableness of a fee recovery is
“the degree of success” the prevailing party
obtained at trial. Hensley, 461 U.S. at 436. The
district court can reduce or eliminate the fees awarded as a
result of the prevailing party's limited success.
Id. This reduction, however, is not automatic.
Id. at 424. Even time spent on unrelated contentions
stemming from the same set of facts and based on related
legal theories which were ultimately unsuccessful are not
subject to automatic dismissal. Spanish Action Comm. of
Chicago v. City of Chicago, 811 F.2d 1129, 1133 (7th
Cir. 1987). Ultimately, however, “where the plaintiff
achieved only limited success, the district court should
award only that amount of fees that is reasonable in relation
to the results obtained.” Hensley, 461 U.S. at
events giving rise to this litigation all center on the
Plaintiff's fluctuating status as a working employee for
the Defendant while recovering from a knee injury and
eventually getting surgery to repair it. This culminated in
the Defendant's decision to terminate the Plaintiff's
employment. Given the common core of facts in the case, the
Court is not free to mechanically adjust the Plaintiff's
award. Id. at 439. Here, the Defendant does not
dispute the reasonableness of the rates asserted by the
Plaintiff. (D. 72 at pg. 2). Rather, the parties dispute the
extent to which the Plaintiff is entitled to reimbursement.
the Plaintiff's success hinges on the Court's
determination of whether or not he achieved substantial
relief at trial. Hensley, 461 U.S. at 424. In light
of the Plaintiff's failure to obtain a favorable verdict
in a decisive majority of his claims, the Court finds that a
reduction is appropriate. The majority of the Plaintiff's