United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Honorable Thomas M. Durkin United States District Judge.
Richard Adamik filed this civil rights case under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 against defendants Officer Jason Motyka, Officer
Richard Tunzi, and Sergeant Robert Rubio for excessive force
and failure to intervene. Adamik also sued defendant City of
Chicago for indemnification. Currently before the Court are:
(1) Adamik's post-trial petition for attorney's fees
; and (2) Adamik's motion to supplement
attorney's fees following a settlement on appeal .
For the following reasons, the Court grants Adamik's
petition  in part and awards Adamik's counsel $310,
377.21 in fees, including prejudgment interest. The Court
grants Adamik's motion to supplement  and sets a
briefing schedule on a supplemental petition.
lawsuit, Adamik challenged Motyka, Tunzi, and Rubio's use
of force and failure to intervene during an interview
following a traffic stop on May 22, 2010. Adamik claimed he
was the victim of an unprovoked attack by defendants during
the interview, resulting in a fractured rib, a ruptured
spleen, and internal bleeding. The defendants denied the
attack, testifying that Adamik must have hurt himself when
struggling against defendants' efforts to restrain him.
November 2, 2015, the jury returned a verdict in favor of
Adamik on two claims: (1) his excessive force claim against
Tunzi and (2) his failure to intervene claim against Rubio.
R. 141. The jury found Motyka not liable. Id. The
jury awarded Adamik $92, 200.91 in compensatory damages, $6,
000 in punitive damages against Tunzi, and $6, 000 in
punitive damages against Rubio. Id. The compensatory
damages award covered approximately the cost of Adamik's
medical bills. Adamik did not recover the additional $100,
000 to $200, 000 he requested in compensatory damages for
pain and suffering.
November 30, 2015, defendants moved for judgment as a matter
of law and for a new trial. R. 149. On March 18, 2016, Adamik
filed a fee petition seeking $449, 885.45 in attorney's
fees and $8, 310 in expenses pursuant to the fee-shifting
statute for civil rights cases, 42 U.S.C. § 1988. R. 191
at 1; R. 191-1. In his reply in support of his fee petition,
Adamik amended his request to seek $415, 143.30. R. 199 at 2.
On April 21, 2016, Adamik's counsel sent a second fee
petition to defense counsel seeking additional fees in the
amount of $50, 631.70 and asked to schedule a meet and
confer. R. 200 at 2. On May 19, 2016, the Court granted
defendants' motion to stay briefing on Adamik's
second fee petition until defendants' post-trial motions
were decided. R. 203.
Court denied defendants' post-trial motions on September
30, 2016. R. 213. That same day, the Court entered an order
granting in part and denying in part Adamik's fee
petition, indicating that a written order would follow.
Id. On October 26, 2016, defendants filed a notice
of appeal. R. 215. On October 31, 2016, this Court entered
judgment against the City of Chicago on Adamik's
indemnification claim. R. 222. The parties subsequently
settled the case (but not the attorney's fees), and
defendants voluntarily dismissed their appeal. R. 235.
November 1, 2017, defendants filed a motion for an agreed
order awarding costs and expenses to Adamik's counsel in
the amount of $20, 374.18. R. 237. The motion explained that
the parties settled Adamik's requests for both costs and
nontaxable expenses, including the $8, 310 in expenses
originally sought in Adamik's fee petition. R. 237 at 2.
This Court granted that motion and ordered the City of
Chicago to pay $20, 374.18 in costs and expenses. R. 240. On
November 2, 2017, Adamik filed a motion for supplemental
attorney's fees of $60, 257.20 for post-trial litigation
and appellate mediation. R. 239.
Civil Rights Attorney's Fees Awards Act of 1976 provides
that a district court, “in its discretion, may allow
the prevailing party . . . a reasonable attorney's
fee” in suits brought under certain federal civil
rights statutes, including 42 U.S.C. § 1983. 42 U.S.C.
§ 1988(b). “[A] prevailing plaintiff should
ordinarily recover an attorney's fee unless special
circumstances would render such an award unjust.”
Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 429 (1983). The
parties agree that Adamik is a prevailing party in this case.
view of [its] superior understanding of the litigation,
” this Court has considerable “discretion in
determining the amount of a fee award.” Id. at
437. The “starting point for determining the amount of
a reasonable fee is the number of hours reasonably expended
on the litigation multiplied by a reasonable hourly
rate.” Id. at 433. This calculation is
commonly known as the “lodestar.” E.g.,
Pickett v. Sheridan Health Care Ctr., 664 F.3d 632,
639 (7th Cir. 2011). “The party seeking an award of
fees” has the initial burden to “submit evidence
supporting the hours worked and rates claimed” in
support of the lodestar. Hensley, 461 U.S. at 433.
“[T]here is a strong presumption that the lodestar
figure is reasonable.” Perdue v. Kenny A., 559
U.S. 542, 554 (2010). That presumption can be overcome
“in those rare circumstances in which the lodestar does
not adequately take into account a factor that may properly
be considered in determining a fee.” Id.
fee petition seeks $415, 143.30 in fees incurred through the
conclusion of trial. The Court first addresses the
appropriate lodestar calculation, including the
reasonableness of the hourly rates claimed and the hours
totals. Second, the Court addresses defendants' argument
for an overall reduction of the lodestar based on
Adamik's degree of success. Third, the Court addresses
Adamik's request for prejudgment interest. Fourth, the
Court addresses Adamik's motion to supplement his
attorney's fees petition to obtain $60, 257.20 for
post-trial litigation and appellate mediation.
hourly rate component of the lodestar “must be based on
the market rate for the attorney's work.”
Gautreaux v. Chicago Hous. Auth., 491 F.3d 649, 659
(7th Cir. 2007). “The market rate is the rate that
lawyers of similar ability and experience in the community
normally charge their paying clients for the type of work in
question.” Id. “[O]nce an attorney
provides evidence establishing [the] market rate, the
opposing party has the burden of demonstrating why a lower
rate should be awarded.” Id. at 659-60.
counsel Edward Genson originally sought a rate of $700 per
hour, but he reduced the rate sought to $550 per hour in
Adamik's reply brief. R. 199 at 2. In support of his
requested rate, Genson attaches an affidavit setting forth
his general academic background and legal honors. R. 191-4.
Genson also attaches a client engagement letter (submitted to
the Court in hard copy only to preserve confidentiality)
offering Genson's legal services at an hourly rate of
$775, but not describing the kind of work performed.
See R. 191 at 18. And Genson attaches an affidavit
from Jon Loevy, a prominent civil rights attorney in Chicago,
attesting to Genson's national reputation, Loevy's
own rates of $495-$505 per hour awarded in civil rights
litigation, and other attorneys' rates in various sorts
of high-profile litigation. R. 191-5.
do not dispute that Mr. Genson is a nationally renowned
criminal defense attorney, ” but they contest his
requested rate because it is higher than Loevy's awarded
rates and because Genson has more “limited experience
in representing plaintiffs in Section 1983 cases.” R.
195 at 4. Defendants advocate instead for a rate of $455 per
correctly point out that the relevant reference point for
determining a market rate is the amount charged by
“attorneys of comparable skill, experience, and
reputations charge for similar work.”
Pickett, 813 F.3d at 640, 645-46 (emphasis added);
accord Gautreaux, 491 F.3d at 659 (“market
rate is the rate that lawyers of similar ability and
experience in the community normally charge their paying
clients for the type of work in question”)
(emphasis added); Cooper v. Casey, 97 F.3d 914, 920
(7th Cir. 1996) (“the reasonable fee is capped at the
prevailing market rate for lawyers engaged in the type of
litigation in which the fee is being sought”)
(emphasis in original).
affidavit and engagement letter do not establish his market
rate for the type of work in question (i.e., civil
rights work). But Loevy's affidavit does establish the
current market rate for civil rights work by a
highly-regarded trial lawyer. Loevy's affidavit (R.
191-5) states that his rate has recently been adjudicated at
$505 per hour, Fox ex rel. Fox v. Barnes, 2013 WL
4401802, at *3-4 (N.D. Ill. Aug. 15, 2013), and $495 per
hour, Jimenez v. City of Chicago, 2012 WL 5512266,
at *2 (N.D. Ill. Nov. 14, 2012). Loevy is “well known
in this district for having obtained a number of
multi-million dollar jury verdicts in § 1983 cases,
” which means that he “clearly qualifies for an
hourly rate as high as any other attorney handling §
1983 cases, and probably higher than most.” Duran
v. Town of Cicero, 2012 WL 1279903, at *20 (N.D. Ill.
Apr. 16, 2012); see also R. 195 at 6-7 (collecting
cases). Loevy's rate is therefore “next-best
evidence” of an appropriate market rate for Genson.
See Montanez v. Simon, 755 F.3d 547, 554 (7th Cir.
2014) (“rates awarded to similarly experienced Chicago
attorneys in other civil-rights cases in the district”
are “next-best evidence . . . properly considered after
the court f[inds] insufficient evidence of the attorneys'
actual market rate”).
Court further finds that it is appropriate to award Genson
the low end of Loevy's rate range as reflected in his
affidavit ($495 per hour) instead of the high end of that
range ($505 per hour). Although Genson maintains a very
successful criminal defense practice and has some civil
rights experience (see R. 199 at 11 n.8), he has not
attained the same level of recognition for civil rights work
as Loevy. See, e.g., Wells v. City of
Chicago, 925 F.Supp.2d 1036, 1041 (N.D. Ill. 2013)
(“Loevy [is] an attorney whose experience, skill, and
record of success in representing plaintiffs in police
misconduct cases place him at the apex of attorneys who
practice in that field.”). And an attorney's
“work in non-civil rights litigation translates to
something less than the equivalent amount of civil rights
litigation experience.” Jimenez, 2012 WL
5512266, at *3; accord Cooper, 97 F.3d at 920
(“Suppose the best lawyer in the United States charges
$1, 000 an hour and is worth every cent of it. Only his
practice has nothing to do with civil rights; he is, let us
say, an antitrust trial lawyer. He is requested to represent
an indigent civil rights plaintiff, and he does so, giving
the case his best shot and, despite his inexperience in civil
rights litigation, doing a superb job. Would he be entitled
to an award of fees at the rate of $1, 000 an hour? Not if
the judge could have procured competent counsel for the
plaintiff at a much lower rate.”). This is particularly
true because Genson's work on the case did not showcase
his expertise as a trial lawyer. Genson played a relatively
minor role at trial; he did not examine Adamik or any of the
three defendants, did not put on the expert witness, and
performed none of the three legal arguments. In light of
these factors, the Court awards Genson the low end of the
documented rates awarded to Loevy: $495 per hour.
lead trial counsel Blaire Dalton originally sought a rate of
$315 per hour, but she reduced her requested hourly rate to
$310.00 in Adamik's reply brief. R. 199 at 2. Dalton
supports this rate through affidavits pointing to other civil
rights cases in which attorneys with similar experience who
played a similar role in the case were awarded commensurate
rates. See R. 191-9.
urge the Court to award Dalton historical rates for her work,
with the rate increasing for each year of her work on the
case. As defendants acknowledge, however, the choice to award
current rates or historical rates plus interest is within the
Court's discretion. See Pickett, 813 F.3d at 647
(“To account for the delay, a district court has the
discretion to choose one of two methods to calculate the fee
award. It may calculate the fee award for services rendered
in prior years using the attorney's current hourly
billing rate. Or it may also calculate the fee award using
the hourly rate the lawyer charged at the time the lawyer
performed the services for the client (the ‘historical
rate') and add interest to that amount.”). Instead
of wading into the parties' factual disputes about
Dalton's relative experience each year, the Court
exercises its discretion to award Dalton her current rate.
See, e.g., Fox, 2013 WL 4401802, at *3
(rejecting challenge to “the use of current hourly
rates to compensate for work performed over the past several
years, when the attorneys had less experience” because
“the Seventh Circuit has explicitly endorsed that
practice to compensate for the delay in payment in civil
rights cases”) (citing Mathur v. Bd. of Trs. of S.
Ill. Univ., 317 F.3d 738, 744-45 (7th Cir. 2003)).
current rate is determined at the time the petition is filed.
Dupuy v. McEwen, 648 F.Supp.2d 1007, 1018 (N.D. Ill.
2009). Dalton graduated in 2011, and Adamik filed its fee
petition in 2016. As such, the Court agrees with Adamik that
Dalton's market rate is that of civil rights attorneys in
their fifth year. Dalton has appropriately established that
market rate by citing examples of rates awarded to fifth- or
sixth-year attorneys in civil rights cases. See R.
191-9 (affidavits in support of Dalton's rate, including
an affidavit from civil rights attorney Elizabeth Mazur from
Loevy & Loevy about rates awarded to fifth- and
sixth-year Loevy & Loevy attorneys).
Court further finds that defendants have failed to show a
“good reason why a lower rate is essential.”
People Who Care v. Rockford Bd. of Educ., 90 F.3d
1307, 1313 (7th Cir. 1996). Even though Dalton has less
overall civil rights experience than some of the fifth-year
attorneys in the cases she cites, the Court finds that
Dalton's lead role throughout the case and at trial
entitles her to a commensurate rate. Dalton's substantial
work on the case included preparing and defending every
deposition and leading the trial team (including by examining
all defendants and Adamik's expert). See R. 191
at 22. Dalton's performance at trial was outstanding, and
it evidenced an attorney of seemingly greater than five years
experience. Moreover, although the Court does not place heavy
reliance on the Laffey Matrix,  it notes that the adjusted Laffey
Matrix would justify a rate of $406 per hour for Dalton. For
all of these reasons, the Court awards Dalton her requested
rate of $310 per hour.