United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
KENNETH BAKER, BARBARA BAKER, CAMDEN BAKER, and A.B., Minor, by Parent BARBARA BAKER, Plaintiffs,
TIMOTHY M. GHIDOTTI, BORIS JURKOVIC, RELIABLE RECOVERY SERVICES, INC., JEAN M. LINDGREN, JESUS VERA, STEVEN MARTIN, JUAN M. CABRALES, DENNIS P. WALSH, MICHAEL A. FLORESE, UNKNOWN OFFICERS OF THE CHICAGO POLICE DEPARTMENT, and THE CITY OF CHICAGO, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
D. LEINENWEBER, JUDGE
Kenneth Baker (“Baker”) has filed a Petition to
Recover Attorneys' Fees against Defendants Timothy M.
Ghidotti, Boris Jurkovic, Reliable Recovery Services, Inc.,
Jean M. Lindgren, Jesus Vera, Steven Martin, Juan M.
Cabrales, Dennis P. Walsh, Michael A. Flores, the City of
Chicago, and several Doe Chicago police officers. (ECF No.
287.) For the reasons stated herein, Plaintiff's Petition
for Fees is granted in part and denied in part, and
Defendants' Motion to Strike Plaintiff's arguments
regarding settlement negotiations is denied.
2014, Baker sued Defendants on § 1983 grounds and won a
jury verdict on two of the six claims he pursued at trial.
The jury awarded Baker $25, 000 in damages on his false
arrest claim and $5, 000 on his malicious prosecution claim.
The Court awarded Baker attorneys' fees pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1988 in an opinion that the Seventh Circuit
affirmed in part and vacated and remanded in part. See,
Baker v. Ghidotti, No. 11 C 4197, 2015 WL 1888004, at *8
(N.D. Ill. Apr. 24, 2015), aff'd in part, vacated in
part sub nom. Baker v. Lindgren, 856 F.3d 498 (7th Cir.
2017). Both parties then agreed to a joint stipulation (ECF
No. 279) for attorney's fees in light of the Seventh
Circuit's ruling, and this Court ordered fees
accordingly. (See, ECF No. 283.) Now, Baker brings a
new Petition for Attorneys' Fees related to the 2017
appeal and other post-judgment lawyering.
Civil Rights Attorney's Fees Award Act, 42. U.S.C. §
1988, allows the award of “reasonable attorney's
fee[s] to the prevailing party in various kinds of civil
rights cases, including suits brought under §
1983.” Fox v. Vice, 563 U.S. 826, 832-33
(2011) (internal quotations omitted). The statute serves the
dual purpose of reimbursing plaintiffs for vindicating
important civil rights and holding accountable violators of
federal law. See, Id. However, a defendant
“need only compensate plaintiff for fees to the extent
plaintiff succeeds; losing claims are not compensable.”
Kurowski v. Krajewski, 848 F.2d 767, 776-77 (7th
awarding fees under § 1988, a court's first step is
to determine whether the party seeking fees is entitled to
“prevailing party” status. Gibson v. City of
Chi., 873 F.Supp.2d 975, 982 (N.D. Ill. 2012). Under one
formulation approved by the Supreme Court, “plaintiffs
may be considered prevailing parties for the purpose of
awarding attorneys' fees if they succeed on any
significant issue in the litigation which achieves some of
the benefit the parties sought in bringing suit.”
Lindgren, 856 F.3d at 503 (citing Hensley v.
Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 433 (1983)).
in limited form, Baker was a prevailing party on appeal.
Defendants point out that he raised eleven arguments on
appeal but succeeded on only one of them, namely that this
Court made an arithmetic error when it double-discounted some
77.9 hours of billable work. Defendants assert that such a
win is “trivial” and does not entitle Baker to
“prevailing party” status. (See,
Defs.' Resp. at 6, ECF No. 288.) But while his appellate
victory amounted to a technical correction, its effect on
Baker was significant. After his appeal, Baker won an
additional $17, 866.46 in attorneys' fees from
Defendants, which is about 10% of the $184, 033.25 total he
has received in fees in this case so far. (See,
Joint Stipulation at 2, ECF No. 279). Under
Hensley's “generous formulation, ”
Baker is a prevailing party for the purposes of reaching the
§ 1988 statutory threshold. 461 U.S. at 433. Still, the
Court must determine what fee is reasonable. Id.
calculate reasonable attorneys' fees under § 1988,
courts apply the “lodestar method, ” which
multiplies the attorneys' reasonable hourly rates by the
number of hours they reasonably expended. People Who Care
v. Rockford Bd. of Educ., Sch. Dist. No. 205, 90 F.3d
1307, 1310 (7th Cir. 1996) (citing Hensley, 461 U.S.
at 433). The party requesting fees carries the burden of
establishing their reasonableness. McNabola v. Chi.
Transit Auth., 10 F.3d 501, 518 (7th Cir. 1993). Once
the Court has arrived at a base lodestar figure, it may
adjust the award in light of the factors identified in
Hensley that are not already subsumed into the
initial lodestar calculation. See, People Who Care,
90 F.3d at 1310 (citing Hensley, 461 U.S. at 434
n.9). These factors include “the complexity of the
legal issues involved, the degree of success obtained, and
the public interest advanced by the litigation.”
Schlacher v. Law Offices of Phillip J. Rotche
& Assocs., P.C., 574 F.3d 852, 856-57 (7th Cir.
seeks a total of $130, 501.50 in appellate and post-trial
attorneys' fees, calculated as follows:
Total per Attorney
Irene K. Dymkar
Torreya L. Hamilton
Daniel H. Regenscheit (pre-bar admission)
Daniel H. Regenscheit (post-bar admission)
Shamoyita M. DasGupta
Court begins by examining counsels' claimed hourly rates.
In determining a reasonable hourly rate, attorneys' fees
awarded under Section 1988 “are to be based on market
rates for services rendered.” Missouri v. Jenkins
by Agyei,491 U.S. 274, 283 (1989). “The
attorney's actual billing rate for comparable work is
‘presumptively appropriate' to use as the market
rate.” People Who Care, 90 F.3d at 1310
(quoting Gusman v. UnisysCorp., 986 F.2d
1146, 1150 (7th Cir. 1993)). The next best evidence of a
reasonable fee is the rate charged by lawyers in the
community of comparable skill, experience, and reputation.
Id. Previous ...