United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
MATTHEW F. KENNELLY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Fields sued the City of Chicago, several Chicago police
officers and officials, and two former Cook County
prosecutors under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and state law for
claims arising from his prosecution for the 1984 murders of
Talman Hickman and Jerome Smith. Fields was convicted and
sentenced to death in 1986. His convictions were affirmed on
appeal but were overturned on post-conviction review in 1998.
Fields was acquitted on retrial in 2009. He filed this
lawsuit in 2010.
dismissals of a number of defendants, the present case went
to trial in March 2014 on Fields's claims against the
City of Chicago and three police officers. The Court declared
a mistrial after seven days of trial when defendants
introduced prejudicial testimony that the Court had excluded
in a pretrial in limine ruling. The second trial,
held in April 2014, included the same defendants plus one of
the former county prosecutors. The trial ended in a finding
for Fields on one of his claims against defendant David
O'Callaghan and for the defendants on the other claims.
The jury awarded Fields $80, 000. The Court later ordered a
new trial. The Court's ruling was based on
newly-discovered evidence concerning a key defense witness,
who was released on parole shortly after the trial even
though he had been expected to remain in prison for 13 more
years, as well as the Court's conclusion that it had
erroneously limited discovery on Fields's Monell
claim against the City and had given the jury an erroneous
instruction on the Monell claim.
then retained new, additional counsel to represent him at the
retrial. O'Callaghan also retained new counsel for the
retrial. The case was retried in November-December 2016. The
jury found for Fields against O'Callaghan and Murphy on
one of his claims against them under section 1983; for Fields
against the City on his Monell claim under section
1983; for Fields against O'Callaghan on a state-law claim
for intentional infliction of emotional distress; and for the
defendants on the remaining section 1983 and state law
claims. The jury awarded Fields compensatory damages of $22,
000, 000, as well as punitive damages of $30, 000 against
O'Callaghan and $10, 000 against Murphy.
has now petitioned the Court for attorney's fees and
expenses under 42 U.S.C. § 1988 and for costs under 28
U.S.C. § 1920. Fields seek to recover fees and expenses
as follows (see Pl.'s Fee Pet'n at 39):
Loevy & Loevy
$2, 595, 847.50
Law Office of H. Candace Gorman
$4, 554, 055.00
Law Office of Leonard Goodman
$7, 491, 802.50
object to the proposed fees and expenses; they contend the
fee award should be $1, 210, 932 for the Loevy firm; $2, 375,
913 for the Gorman firm; and $126, 463 for the Goodman firm,
a total of $3, 713, 308. See id., Ex. 1 (Joint Fee
Stat.) at 3-5. They also request significant reductions on
the requested costs and expenses. See Id.
reasons described below, the Court reduces the Loevy
firm's requested fees by a little under $600, 000; the
Gorman firm's requested fees by a little under $1, 000,
000; and the Goodman firm's requested fees by a little
over $120, 000. The total amount of fees awarded by the Court
is approximately $5, 571, 500. The Court also reduces the
requested costs and expenses by amounts to be calculated and
resubmitted by counsel.
starting point for determination of a reasonable
attorney's fee in a section 1983 case is the number of
hours reasonably expended on the litigation, multiplied by a
reasonable hourly rate. See Hensley v. Eckerhart,
461 U.S. 424, 433 (1983). The fee applicant bears the burden
of showing the reasonableness of the time requested as well
as the hourly rates. Id. at 437.
figure derived from multiplying the hours reasonably expended
by a reasonable hourly rate is referred to as the
"lodestar." A court can adjust the lodestar based
on twelve factors described in Hensley. Id.
at 434 n. 9. The twelve factors are:
(1) the time and labor required; (2) the novelty and
difficulty of the questions; (3) the skill requisite to
perform the legal service properly; (4) the preclusion of
employment by the attorney due to acceptance of the case; (5)
the customary fee; (6) whether the fee is fixed or
contingent; (7) time limitations imposed by the client or the
circumstances; (8) the amount involved and the results
obtained; (9) the experience, reputation, and ability of the
attorneys; (10) the "undesirability" of the case;
(11) the nature and length of the professional relationship
with the client; and (12) awards in similar cases.
Id. at 430 n. 3. "However, 'many of these
factors usually are subsumed within the initial calculation
of hours reasonably expended at a reasonable hourly
rate.'" Anderson v. AB Painting and
Sandblasting Inc., 578 F.3d 542, 544 (7th Cir. 2009)
(quoting Hensley, 461 U.S. at 434 n. 9).
reasonable hourly rate is "one that is derived from the
market rate for the services rendered." Pickett v.
Sheridan Health Care Ctr., 664 F.3d 632, 640 (7th Cir.
2011) (internal quotation marks omitted). The focus is
"the prevailing market rate for lawyers engaged in
the type of litigation in which the fee is being
sought." Cooper v. Casey, 97 F.3d 914, 920
(7th Cir. 1996) (emphasis in original). See also Spegon
v. Catholic Bishop of Chicago, 175 F.3d 544, 555 (7th
attorney has an actual billing rate that he or she typically
charges and obtains for similar litigation, that is
presumptively the attorney's hourly rate.
Pickett, 664 F.3d at 640. In some situations,
however, the attorney does not have an established market
rate, for example, because he or she typically uses
contingent fee arrangements or relies on statutory fee
awards. When (as here) that is the case, a court should rely
on the "next best evidence" of the attorney's
market rate, namely "evidence of rates similarly
experienced attorneys in the community charge paying clients
for similar work and evidence of fee awards the attorney has
received in similar cases." Id. (internal
quotation marks omitted).
fee applicant bears the burden of 'produc[ing]
satisfactory evidence-in addition to the attorney's own
affidavits-that the requested rates are in line with those
prevailing in the community.'" Id. (quoting
Blum v. Stenson, 465 U.S. 886, 895 n. 11 (1984)). If
the applicant satisfies this burden, then the opposing party
has the burden to offer evidence "that sets forth a good
reason why a lower rate is essential." Id.
(internal quotation marks omitted).
supports some of his proposed rates by reference to the
so-called "Laffey Matrix, " a framework used by the
United States Attorney's Office for the District of
Columbia to determine reasonable hourly rates in fee-shifting
cases. As the Seventh Circuit noted in Pickett,
[n]o circuit outside the D.C. Circuit has formally adopted
the Laffey Matrix, and few have even commented on it. While
some circuits have applied the Laffey Matrix, other circuits
have expressed concerns about the Matrix's utility
outside its circuit of origin. . . . The district courts [in
this circuit] that have considered the Laffey Matrix have
viewed it with differing levels of praise and skepticism. . .
. The Laffey Matrix is not without its critics. . . . Even
the D.C. Circuit has referred to the Matrix as
"crude" and has recommended that plaintiffs provide
affidavits, surveys, and past fee awards to enable the
district court to refine the Matrix for the particular
Pickett, 664 F.3d at 649-50 (internal quotation
marks and citations omitted). Given these concerns and the
Seventh Circuit's expressed preference for other, more
direct measures of reasonable hourly rates, the Court does
not find it appropriate to rely on the Laffey Matrix as
evidence supporting Fields's proposed hourly rates.
See also Wells v. City of Chicago, 925
F.Supp.2d 1036, 1040 (N.D. Ill. 2013) (Kennelly, J.).
Court also declines to rely on an affidavit submitted by
Bruce Meckler regarding rates for attorneys in commercial
litigation. The relevant frame of reference is civil rights /
police misconduct litigation, not commercial litigation.
Loevy & Loevy attorneys
little under a year ago, Jon Loevy advised this Court in
another case-albeit not a police misconduct or civil rights
case-that his hourly rate was $550. This was consistent with
the best other evidence Fields has offered on Loevy's
hourly rate, specifically, rates approved by this Court and
others in this district for Loevy. This includes this
Court's determination in 2012 that Loevy's
appropriate hourly rate was $495, see Jimenez v. City of
Chicago, No. 09 C 8081, 2012 WL 5512266 (N.D. Ill. Nov.
14, 2012), and Judge James Holderman's approval of a $505
rate for Loevy in 2013 in Fox v. Barnes, No. 09 C
5453, 2013 WL 4401802 (N.D. Ill. Aug. 15, 2013)-both police
misconduct cases. The Court finds that Loevy's current
market rate for litigation of this type is $550. He has not
provided persuasive evidence supporting the much higher $750
rate that he requests. The same $550 rate applies for Michael
Kanovitz; defendants do not challenge his proposed rate.
Swaminathan, an attorney with 11 years of litigation
experience, was awarded fees at a $310 hourly rate in the
Fox case in 2013. Considering that, his additional
experience in the meantime, and rates approved for attorneys
of comparable skill and experience in other litigation, the
Court finds that the appropriate hourly rate for Swaminathan
is $360. The same $360 rate will apply to Joel Feldman, a
lawyer with a similar experience level who charged only a
small amount of time in this case.
Court finds that the appropriate rate for Steven Art and
Cindy Tsai, attorneys with about 8 years of litigation
experience, is $325. This is consistent with the $310 rate
approved for Swaminathan in the Fox case in 2013
when he had a little less experience than Art and Tsai have
now and with the $295 rate approved for Tsai in 2013 in the
Fox case. The Court approves the same rate ($325)
for Karl Leonard, a lawyer with a roughly similar experience
level who charged less than two hours on this case.
appropriate market rates for the other attorneys with the
Loevy firm are best determined by reference to the rates for
the other, more experienced attorneys at the firm that the
Court has just set. Considering their relative levels of
experience, the Court finds that the appropriate hourly rate
for David Owens and Tony Balkissoon is $275; the appropriate
hourly rate for Sarah Grusin and Sam Heppell is $225; the
appropriate hourly rate for the four remaining Loevy &
Loevy lawyers who worked on the case, Katie Roche, Margaret
McWhorter, Dibora Berhanu, and Dusan Sarapa, is $200.
Law Office of H. Candace Gorman
Court approved an hourly rate of $450 for Candace Gorman back
in 2005 in the case of Jones v. R. R. Donnelly, No.
96 C 7717. Gorman argues, in part due to her acquisition of
over ten more years of experience since then, that her
appropriate hourly rate for this case is $600. But
Jones was an employment discrimination case. It was
a highly complex case, and Gorman achieved a very favorable
result, but before the present case she had very limited
experience in police misconduct-related civil rights
litigation. Her rate for the Jones case therefore
cannot simply be adopted here. And the Court finds no
appropriate basis in the record to approve a rate for her
that is higher than or the same as the rate for Jon Loevy,
currently one of the top (if not the top)
plaintiff's attorneys for police misconduct suits in
Chicago. The Court finds that Gorman's appropriate hourly
rate for this case is $500.
regard to the other attorneys at Gorman's firm, in this
case in 2014, Gorman claimed a rate of $150 for Adrian
Bleifuss, a 2012 law school graduate, and $75 for Sandra
Tsung, who was a law student when she did her work on the
case. Neither Bleifuss nor Tsung performed any more services
on this case after that fee petition. Gorman has offered no
persuasive support for higher hourly rates than those she
previously sought for the exact same work in this case. The
Court adopts the rates Gorman proposed in 2014, which
defendants do not oppose.
time spent by four attorneys reviewing police department,
public defender, and prosecutor files in connection with
Fields's Monell claim will be compensated at
$200, the same rates the Court has set for the newest
associates from the Loevy firm.
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