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Gibbons v. Village of Sauk Village

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

May 25, 2018

LISA GIBBONS, Plaintiff,
v.
VILLAGE OF SAUK VILLAGE, an Illinois Municipality, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Young B. Kim United States Magistrate Judge.

         On November 26, 2017, Plaintiff Lisa Gibbons accepted Defendant Village of Sauk Village's (“the Village”) offer of judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 68. (R. 161.) Based on this acceptance, this court entered a final judgment in the case on December 11, 2017. (R. 166.) Thereafter, Gibbons moved to amend the court's judgment order and for attorneys' fees and costs, (R. 173), and the Village moved to amend or correct the judgment order, (R. 174). For the following reasons, Gibbons's motion to amend the judgment order is granted and the Village's motion is denied:

         Background

         In June 2015 Gibbons filed claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq., alleging that the Village engaged in retaliatory termination practices and procedural due process violations by terminating her employment and then refusing to rehire her after she engaged in protected activities. On November 13, 2017, after more than two years of litigation and shortly before trial was set to begin, the Village extended an offer of judgment to Gibbons pursuant to Rule 68. (R. 161.) The terms of the offer were as follows:

1. A judgment in favor of Plaintiff Lisa Gibbons and against Defendant in the amount of $25, 000 (twenty-five thousand dollars and zero cents) as to all liability claimed in this action;
2. Defendant will pay reasonable attorneys' fees and costs that Plaintiff Lisa Gibbons incurred in this action, to be determined by the Court upon the filing of a petition under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54 and Local Rule 54.3.

(Id.) The Rule 68 offer further stated, “[t]his offer is not to be construed in any way as an admission of liability by the Defendant, but rather is made solely for the purpose of compromising a disputed claim.” (Id.) Gibbons accepted the Rule 68 offer two days before trial was scheduled to begin. (R. 161-1.)

         On December 11, 2017, this court entered judgment ordering:

1. That judgment is entered in favor of Plaintiff and against Defendant Village of Sauk Village in the total amount of $25, 000, not including attorneys' fees and costs; and
2. That the court shall determine the amount of reasonable attorneys' fees and costs Defendant must pay to Plaintiff, as the prevailing party in this case, accrued through November 13, 2017, upon Plaintiff's petition for fees and costs.

(R. 166.)

         On January 8, 2018, Gibbons moved to amend this judgment order to reflect that she is entitled to reasonable attorneys' fees through the date the court rules on her fee petition, rather than up to the date the Village made the Rule 68 offer. (R. 173.) That same day, the Village moved to amend the judgment to omit any reference to Gibbons as the “prevailing party.” (R. 174.) The Village argues that Gibbons is not the prevailing party and should not be allowed to recover fees and costs, or alternatively, that the fee award should reflect what it characterizes as Gibbons's “limited success” in this case. (R. 181, Def.'s Resp. at 10, 15.)

         Analysis

         The parties' disagreements reflected in their competing motions center on three fundamental issues: (1) whether Gibbons is properly considered the prevailing party in this case; (2) to the extent that Gibbons is entitled attorneys' fees, whether she should be awarded those fees accrued through the date of the offer of judgment or through the date the court rules on the petition for fees; and (3) the ...


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