Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Flora v. Dart

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

June 9, 2018

DONNELL FLORA, Plaintiff,
v.
THOMAS DART, Sheriff of Cook County, and COOK COUNTY, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          MATTHEW F. KENNELLY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Donnell Flora, who at the time was a pretrial detainee at the Cook County Jail, sued Sheriff Thomas Dart and Cook County for violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Flora is a paraplegic and confined to a wheelchair. He sued alleging that he was assigned to cells that were unfit for wheelchair-bound detainees. The defendants-which have faced several lawsuits like Flora's-steadfastly refused to consider settlement at all stages of the case and fought tooth-and-nail for every inch of ground. The Court entered summary judgment in Flora's favor on the question of liability on most of his claims, see Flora v. Dart, No. 15 C 1127, 2017 WL 2152392 (N.D. Ill. May 17, 2017), and set the case for trial on damages, as well as on the claims on which liability was still at issue.

         On the morning of trial, with a jury venire summoned and waiting, the defendants agreed to consider settlement for the first time. The parties settled the case, with Flora dismissing his remaining claims in return for payment of $2, 500, and leaving the determination of an award of attorney's fees to the Court. The defendants insisted on withdrawal of the Court's summary judgment decision as part of the settlement, presumably to avoid having an adverse precedent on the books. Flora did not care about this and agreed, as did the Court in order to avoid burdening the prospective jurors.

         About a week later, the parties filed a stipulation and motion saying the following:

1. The Parties jointly move this Court to enter an Order vacating its May 17, 2017, Memorandum Opinion and Order (Dkt. Entry #149);
2. Defendants agree to pay Plaintiff a monetary settlement to release all claims relating to his detention at the Cook County Jail pursuant to the Parties' Confidential Settlement Agreement and General Release exclusive of attorney's fees and costs; and
3. The Parties agree to grant discretion to the Court to determine an appropriate amount of attorney's fees and costs.

         Stipulation and Joint Motion for Entry of Order (dkt. no. 205) at 1. The Court entered an order stating that "[p]ursuant to the parties' stipulation documenting their settlement, their joint motion (dkt. no. 205) for entry of an order vacating the Court's 5/17/2017 memorandum opinion and order is granted, and that memorandum opinion and order (dkt. no. 149) is vacated." Dkt. no. 207 (order of 10/19/2017).

         Flora then moved for attorney's fees and expenses, as the parties' settlement expressly contemplated. In response, the defendants took the rather outrageous position that due to Flora's agreement to vacate the Court's summary judgment opinion, Flora was no longer the prevailing party and was not entitled to a fee award. This was ridiculous-the defendants had expressly agreed to allow the Court to award attorney's fees to Flora, and their counsel had never disclosed when asking the Court to vacate its opinion that they planned to rely on that to deny fees altogether. After the Court raised these problems, the defendants withdrew the contention. Thus it is undisputed, as it should have been all along, that Flora was the prevailing party in this case. The Court therefore proceeds to determine the amount of attorney's fees and costs to award to him.

         The starting point for determination of a reasonable attorney's fee 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 party petitioning for fees bears the burden of showing the reasonableness of the time requested as well as the hourly rates. Id. at 437.

         The 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).

         In his fee petition, Flora seeks recovery of fees for the following attorneys and paralegals at the rates and ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.