Bellamy v. The City of Chicago et al
ORDER signed by the Honorable Edmond E. Chang. For the reasons stated in the Order, the motion for attorney's fees and costs 157 is granted in part and denied in part. There is follow-up work for the parties in light of the Order: Defendants are directed to calculate the total time that each attorney spent drafting and reviewing emails, and then to provide those calculations (along with the identity of the objected-to entries) to Bellamy by 09/08/2017. The parties must then file a joint position paper by 09/22/2017 identifying any disagreement as to the calculation. The Court will then apply the email reduction to the hours billed, multiply those hours by hourly rates to calculate the lodestar, reduce that lodestar figure by 20%, and enter final judgment as to the amount of attorneys' fees due to Bellamy. To track the case only (no appearance is required), a status hearing is set for 09/29/2017 at 8:30 a.m.Emailed notice(slb, )
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS
THE CITY OF CHICAGO, et al.,
No. 15 C 02678
Judge Edmond E. Chang
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Kasandra Bellamy filed this civil rights lawsuit against Chicago Police
Officer Hillel Watkins and Chicago Police Detective Maria Viti, among others.1 See
R. 69, First Am. Compl.2 On June 17, 2016, after a four-day trial, a jury returned a
verdict for Bellamy on a claim of excessive force against Watkins, but against
Bellamy on a false arrest claim and a malicious prosecution claim. R. 134, 06/17/16
Minute Entry. Bellamy now moves under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(d) for
reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs as permitted by 42 U.S.C. § 1988 and 28 U.S.C.
§ 1920. R. 157, Pl.’s Fee Pet. For the reasons stated below, Bellamy’s motion for
attorneys’ fees and costs is granted in part and denied in part.
Only a brief summary of the litigation is necessary for purposes of this
Opinion. On July 4, 2014, Bellamy was injured by Watkins—an off-duty Chicago
Court has subject matter jurisdiction over the case under 28 U.S.C. § 1331.
to the record are noted as “R.” followed by the docket number and, when
necessary, the page or paragraph number.
police officer—when he used physical force to remove her from the men’s public
restroom at the 31st Street Beach on the South Side of Chicago. Pl.’s Fee Pet. at 1.
Shortly after being evicted from the restroom, Bellamy was arrested by on-duty
Chicago police officers and charged with battering Watkins. Id. That battery charge,
however, was eventually dismissed, id., and Bellamy filed this lawsuit, alleging that
Watkins had used excessive force against her and caused her to be falsely arrested,
as well as that Watkins and Viti—a Chicago police detective—caused Bellamy to be
maliciously prosecuted for battery.3 R. 125, 06/12/16 Minute Entry (revised case
statement). Following 16 months of litigation and a four-day trial, a jury returned a
verdict for Bellamy on her excessive force claim against Watkins.4 06/17/16 Minute
Entry. The jury awarded Bellamy $9,000.00 in compensatory damages and
$8,000.00 in punitive damages. Id.
Bellamy has since filed a bill of costs and a motion for attorneys’ fees under
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(d), 28 U.S.C. § 1920, and 42 U.S.C. § 1988. Pl.’s
Fee Pet. Bellamy seeks $297,948.00 in attorneys’ fees and $8,461.75 in taxable
First Amended Complaint asserted claims against five additional defendants:
three Chicago police officers, Isaac Benson, Bernard Wysinger, and Margit Willis; the City
of Chicago; and Haywil, LLC. First Am. Compl. In July 2015, the Court entered an order of
default against Haywil for failing to answer or otherwise plead on time. R. 35, 07/01/15
Minute Entry. Benson, Wysinger, and Willis were voluntarily dismissed from the case in
February 2016. R. 75, Mot. to Voluntarily Dismiss; R. 80, Supp. to Mot. to Voluntarily
Dismiss; R. 81, 02/17/16 Minute Entry. The City of Chicago remained in the case for
indemnification purposes only, and agreed to the automatic entry of judgment against it for
compensatory damages and reasonable attorneys’ fees if Watkins or Viti were found liable.
R. 105, 05/24/16 Order at 2.
4The jury returned a verdict for Watkins on Bellamy’s false arrest claim and for
Watkins and Viti on Bellamy’s malicious prosecution claim. 06/17/16 Minute Entry. The
Court then entered judgment against the City of Chicago on the excessive force claim (for
compensatory damages) and for the City of Chicago on the false arrest and malicious
prosecution claims. Id.
costs. Id.; R. 140, Bill of Costs. Defendants City of Chicago, Watkins, and Viti, in
turn, have objected to the attorneys’ fees that Bellamy seeks. R. 176, Defs.’ Resp.
II. Legal Standard
Under 42 U.S.C. § 1988, “the court, in its discretion, may allow the prevailing
party [in a § 1983 action] … a reasonable attorney’s fee as part of the costs.” In
determining a reasonable attorney’s fee, district courts use the lodestar method,
“multiplying the ‘number of hours reasonably expended on the litigation … by a
reasonable hourly rate.’” Pickett v. Sheridan Health Care Ctr., 664 F.3d 632, 639
(7th Cir. 2011) (Pickett II) (quoting Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 433 (1983)).
The Court may then adjust that figure based on the factors set forth in Hensley v.
Eckerhart, such as the time and labor required, the novelty or difficulty of the case,
the degree of the success achieved, the experience and ability of the attorneys, the
adequacy of the documentation of the hours, and whether appropriate billing
judgment was used. 461 U.S. at 429-30 & n.3. The party requesting the fee has the
burden of proving its reasonableness, including the hourly rate and appropriate
hours expended. Id. at 437; see also, e.g., Benito M. v. Bd. of Educ. of Chi., Dist. 299,
544 F. Supp. 2d 713, 720 (N.D. Ill. 2008).
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(d)(1) further allows a prevailing party to
recover costs other than attorneys’ fees unless a federal statute, federal rule, or
court order says otherwise. Under 28 U.S.C. § 1920, a federal court may tax as
costs: (1) fees of the clerk and marshal; (2) fees for printed or electronically recorded
transcripts necessarily obtained for use in the case; (3) fees and disbursements for
printing and witnesses; (4) fees for exemplification and the costs of making copies of
any materials where the copies are necessarily obtained for use in the case; (5)
docket fees under 28 U.S.C. § 1923; and (6) compensation of court-appointed
experts, compensation of interpreters, and salaries, fees, expenses, and costs of
special interpretation services under 28 U.S.C. § 1828.
“Taxing costs against a losing party requires two inquiries: (1) whether the
cost imposed on the losing party is recoverable and (2) if so, whether the amount
assessed for that item was reasonable.” Majeske v. City of Chicago, 218 F.3d 816,
824 (7th Cir. 2000). “[D]istrict courts enjoy wide discretion in determining and
awarding reasonable costs,” Northbrook Excess & Surplus Ins. Co. v. Procter &
Gamble Co., 924 F.2d 633, 642 (7th Cir. 1991), but “[t]here is a presumption that
the prevailing party will recover costs, and the losing party bears the burden of an
affirmative showing that taxed costs are not appropriate,” Beamon v. Marshall &
Ilsley Trust Co., 411 F.3d 854, 864 (7th Cir. 2005). That said, if the prevailing party
does not adequately provide an itemization or documentation for certain costs, such
costs may be denied. See Montanez v. Simon, 755 F.3d 547, 559 (7th Cir. 2014).
In this case, Bellamy seeks to recover $297,948.00 in attorneys’ fees and
$8,461.75 in taxable costs.5 Pl.’s Fee Pet.; Bill of Costs. On attorneys’ fees,
fees and costs represent Bellamy’s attorneys’ work through the date that the
fee petition was filed, October 18, 2016. Pl.’s Fee Pet. at 1 n.1. Bellamy says that she also
will seek recovery of fees and costs incurred after that date. See id. Bellamy should abide by
Local Rule 54.3 and confer with the defense. The parties should attempt in good faith to
agree upon the fees and expenses that should be awarded. See L.R. 54.3(d). If the parties
are unable to reach an agreement, Bellamy may then file a motion for additional fees and
Defendants object to both the hourly rates charged and the number of hours billed
by Bellamy’s five attorneys: Torreya Hamilton, Thomas Needham, Elizabeth Uribe,
Kevin Turkcan, and Anna Szymczak. Defs.’ Resp. at 1-2. Defendants also ask that
the overall lodestar amount be cut by 50% to account for, among other things,
Bellamy’s limited degree of success at trial. Id. at 2. The Court addresses each of
Defendants’ objections, and their request for a 50% reduction, in turn. And, though
Defendants did not file an objection to Bellamy’s bill of costs, the Court may
independently scrutinize its legitimacy, cf. Spellan v. Bd. of Educ. for Dist. 111, 59
F.3d 642, 646 (7th Cir. 1995), so this Opinion deals with taxable costs as well.
A. Hourly Rate
“A reasonable hourly rate is based on the local market rate for the attorney’s
services.” Montanez, 755 F.3d at 553.
The best evidence of the market rate is the amount the attorney actually bills
for similar work, but if that rate can’t be determined, then the district court
may rely on evidence of rates charged by similarly experienced attorneys in
the community and evidence of rates set for the attorney in similar cases.
Id. As between the two “next-best” alternatives, the Seventh Circuit has “indicated
a preference for third party affidavits that attest to the billing rates of comparable
attorneys.” Pickett II, 664 F.3d at 640. That said, “conclusory affidavits from
attorneys ‘merely opin[ing]’ on the reasonableness of another attorney’s fee—unlike
affidavits describing what ‘comparable attorneys charge for similar services’—have
little probative value.” Montanez, 755 F.3d at 554 (quoting Pickett II, 664 F.3d at
costs. Any new motion should include an estimate for all future attorneys’ fees and costs so
as to avoid needlessly prolonging this litigation.
The party seeking the fee award bears the burden of establishing the market
rate for their attorneys’ services. Id. at 553. If the party fails to carry that burden,
then the Court can independently determine the appropriate hourly rate. Id. If the
party seeking the award has met their burden, however, it falls on the opposing
party to demonstrate why a lower rate should be awarded. People Who Care v.
Rockford Bd. of Educ., Sch. Dist. No. 205, 90 F.3d 1307, 1313 (7th Cir. 1996). “A
defendant’s failure to do so is essentially a concession that the attorney’s billing rate
is reasonable and should be awarded.” Id. That said, if the Court “decides that [a]
proffered rate overstates the value of an attorney’s services, it may lower [the rate]
accordingly.” Mathur v. Bd. of Trs. of S. Ill. Univ., 317 F.3d 738, 743 (7th Cir. 2003);
see Chrapliwy v. Uniroyal, Inc., 670 F.2d 760, 767 (7th Cir. 1982) (“A judge may well
approach high rates with skepticism, and he may exercise some discretion in
lowering such rates.”).
1. Torreya Hamilton
Bellamy asks the Court to award Hamilton a billing rate of $465 per hour for
the work that she did on this matter. Pl.’s Fee Pet. at 7-10. Bellamy, however, has
failed to meet her burden of proof. Bellamy supplied neither “best” evidence
showing that Hamilton has ever billed at or near a rate of $465 for other similar
work, or the preferred “next best” third-party affidavits averring to the rates
charged by similarly experienced attorneys in the community. She did provide
evidence of rates set for Hamilton in other civil rights cases, but in none of those
cases was Hamilton awarded $465 an hour. See, e.g., Volland-Golden v. City of
Chicago, 2015 WL 12839131, at *3 (N.D. Ill. Aug. 27, 2015) (setting rate at
$450/hour in August 2015 for work performed after August 1, 2013); Baker v.
Ghidotti, 2015 WL 1888004, at *4 (N.D. Ill Apr. 24, 2015) (setting rate of $450/hour
in April 2015), aff’d in part, vacated in part on other grounds sub nom. Baker v.
Lindgren, 856 F.3d 498 (7th Cir. 2017); Morjal v. City of Chicago, 2013 WL
2368062, at *5-6 (N.D. Ill. May 29, 2013) (setting rate of $400/hour in 2013);
Richardson v. City of Chicago, 2012 WL 6185867, at *11 (N.D. Ill. Nov. 20, 2012)
(setting rate of $425/hour in 2012), sustained in pertinent part, 2013 WL 2451107
(N.D. Ill. June 5, 2013); Minute Entry, Nelson v. Salgado, 09-CV-05357 (N.D. Ill.
Oct. 19, 2012), ECF 138 (setting rate of $395/hour in 2012); Gibson v. City of
Chicago, 873 F. Supp. 2d 975, 985 (N.D. Ill. 2012) (setting rate of $395/hour in
2012); cf., e.g., Local Rule 54.3(e) Joint Statement at 1-2, Morado v. City of Chicago,
12-CV-00752 (N.D. Ill. Oct. 30, 2013), ECF 245 (City of Chicago agreeing to rate of
$425/hour in October 2013). Indeed, the highest billing rate that Hamilton has been
awarded to date is $450 an hour. See Volland-Golden, 2015 WL 12839131, at *3;
Baker, 2015 WL 1888004, at *4. And though courts in this District have generally
increased Hamilton’s billing rate over time, they have not done so consistently:
Hamilton received $395 and $425 an hour in 2012; then $400 in 2013; and finally
$450 in 2015. Even acknowledging the overall upward trend, it is not a given that
courts should just continue that trend—at some point, an experienced lawyer will
max out her billing rate. That said, a $15 raise from the $450 an hour awarded in
2015 for a lawyer with more than 20 years of litigation experience, and 14 years
working on civil rights cases, see R. 157-2, Hamilton Dec. ¶¶ 1, 4-6, is not
unreasonable.6 So, the Court awards Hamilton a billing rate of $465 an hour,
though she might be quickly approaching a fee ceiling (if she has not reached it
2. Thomas Needham
Bellamy also asks the Court to award Needham $465 an hour. Pl.’s Fee Pet.
at 7-8. In order to establish the market rate for Needham’s services—and in
contrast to what she did for Hamilton—Bellamy has supplied declarations from four
experienced attorneys in practice in the Chicago legal community: Richard Devine,
Christopher Hurley, Daniel Kelley, and Scott Turow. See R. 157-1, Devine Dec.; R.
157-1, Hurley Dec.; R. 157-1, Kelley Dec.; R. 157-1, Turow Dec. These declarations,
however, have little to no probative value. As an initial matter, they are not in the
proper format. A declaration under penalty of perjury must be signed and bear the
date that it was executed by the declarant. 28 U.S.C. § 1746. Here, all four
declarations are undated and use e-signatures. See Grayer v. Cerda, 2014 WL
6713480, at *10 (N.D. Ill. Oct. 6, 2014) (holding that declarations accompanying a
lieu of prejudgment interest, Bellamy asks the Court to award the current
market billing rate to each of her attorneys for the entirety of their representation. See Pl.’s
Fee Pet. at 7 n.3. “Since payment for services in civil rights litigation often comes by court
order years after the services were performed, the court must account for the delay in
payment of attorney’s fees.” Pickett v. Sheridan Health Care Ctr., 813 F.3d 640, 647 (7th
Cir. 2016) (Pickett III). A district court can compensate for delay in payment by (1)
calculating a fee award using the lawyer’s current billing rate for the entire period of
representation or (2) by calculating a fee award using the lawyer’s rate(s) at the time(s) the
lawyer represented the client and adding interest to that amount. Id. The Court thinks it
appropriate here—where Bellamy has proposed the use of current market rates, and the
Defendants have offered no objection—to calculate the fee award using the attorneys’
current market rates.
fee petition were “questionable as evidence” because they were undated and used esignatures). The lack of date, in particular, is problematic: without a date of
execution, the Court cannot tell when the declarations were made, which
significantly diminishes their value as evidence of current market rate.
Bellamy tries to fix this problem in her reply brief by explaining that the
declarations were created to support a fee petition submitted in a different case
(Morado v. City of Chicago) in 2013. See R. 183, Pl.’s Reply at 18. Even assuming
that Bellamy could fix a defect in a declaration by supplying missing information in
a reply brief, the Court would have a problem with what Bellamy did here. As a
general matter, it is fine for a party seeking attorneys’ fees to reuse declarations
that were created for fee petitions in other cases. But a party who chooses to recycle
a declaration must be upfront about having done that. The need for transparency is
especially clear in this case, where the declarations are undated and suggest that
Needham should receive a different rate ($525 per hour) than the one that Bellamy
is asking for.7 See Devine Dec.; Hurley Dec.; Kelley Dec.; Turow Dec.
Setting aside the defects in format and the lack of transparency, the
substance of the declarations is too general and conclusory. Starting with the
Devine and Kelley Declarations: those two state in a conclusory fashion that the
rate that Needham seeks is reasonable, see Devine Dec. ¶ 8; Kelley Dec. ¶ 10, but
they do not substantiate this opinion with any information—such as experience
to mention the fact that the Kelley Declaration says that Kelley “ha[s] reviewed
the declaration that Mr. Needham is submitting to this Court,” see Kelley Dec. ¶ 10, which
was no doubt true of Needham’s declaration in Morado v. City of Chicago, but is likely false
with respect to Needham’s declaration in this case.
litigating civil rights cases or hourly rates charged for similar work—that would
make their opinion on the matter particularly helpful. Hurley, unlike Devine and
Kelly, at least provides his billing rate ($550 per hour), see Hurley Dec. ¶ 11, but he
works on personal injury cases, see id. ¶ 2, not civil rights cases, so what he bills is
not especially relevant. Turow also provides his billing rate ($750 per hour), Turow
Dec. ¶ 11, and is the only one of the four to indicate that he has worked on civil
rights cases, id. ¶ 5. But Turow’s practice includes criminal and other civil matters,
and his time spent actually practicing law has dropped since 1990 because of his
career as an author. Id. ¶¶ 4-5, 11. It could very well have been a long time since
Turow last worked on a civil rights case, and it could also be that he has worked on
very few civil rights cases. Without more detail, the fact that he billed $750 an hour
at the time the declaration was made is not persuasive.
The only other evidence of market rate that Bellamy offers in support of her
request for $465 an hour is the fact that a district court awarded Needham $450 an
hour in Volland-Golden, 2015 WL 12839131, at *3. Pl.’s Fee Pet. at 8. That award is
solid evidence that the market rate for Needham’s services was $450 an hour in
2015. It is not a given, however, that the market rate for his services would have
risen in the two years since Volland-Golden. But seeing as Needham has practiced
law for 33 years, R. 157-1, Needham Dec. ¶ 1—during which he has handled at least
47 separate federal civil rights or Title VII discrimination cases, id. ¶ 15—and that
he tried two civil rights cases to verdict after he was awarded the $450 an hour in
Volland-Golden, see Pl.’s Fee Pet. at 8, the Court thinks it reasonable to afford him
the same $15 raise as Hamilton, though again with the warning that the fee ceiling
might have been reached.
3. Elizabeth Uribe
Bellamy requests that Uribe, who has been an attorney for seven years, be
awarded a rate of $250 per hour. Pl.’s Fee Pet. at 11; see Volland-Golden, 2015 WL
12839131, at *4 (noting that Uribe has been licensed to practice law since 2010). In
support of this request, Bellamy has (1) supplied declarations from two civil rights
attorneys in Chicago—Jared Kosoglad and Tony Thedford—and (2) identified rates
set for Uribe by district courts in other civil rights cases. See Pl.’s Fee Pet. at 11-12;
R. 157-4, Kosoglad Dec.; R. 157-4, Thedford Dec. This time, the evidence that
Bellamy has offered supports the rate that she has requested.
Unlike the declarations submitted on Needham’s behalf, the Kosoglad and
Thedford Declarations bear the dates of execution, detail each affiant’s civil rights
experience, and set out rates that each affiant has been awarded or has charged for
civil rights work. See Kosoglad Dec.; Thedford Dec. Kosoglad and Thedford each
provide enough information about their professional backgrounds such that they
can be expected to have informed opinions on (1) the rates sought within the district
for similar work and (2) the reasonableness of the specific rate sought for Uribe’s
services. Both attorneys aver that a rate of $250 per hour for Uribe is reasonable.8
See Kosoglad Dec. ¶ 18; Thedford Dec. ¶ 16.
these declarations are several years old. Kosoglad Dec. (dated January 20,
2014); Thedford Dec. (dated September 6, 2013). But if Kosoglad and Thedford believed
$250 an hour reasonable in 2013-2014 when Uribe had less experience, they would
certainly believe it to be reasonable today.
What’s more, Kosoglad’s declaration provides a helpful data point: In 2008,
with about two years of civil rights experience under his belt, he was awarded $225
per hour for his work on Thomas v. Cook County Sherriff’s Department. Id. ¶ 6;
Thomas ex rel. Smith v. Sheahan, 556 F. Supp. 2d 861, 899 (N.D. Ill. 2008), aff’d in
part, rev’d in part on other grounds sub nom. Thomas v. Cook Cty. Sheriff’s Dep’t,
604 F.3d 293 (7th Cir. 2010). Given that Uribe now has seven years of legal
experience—not to mention the fact that nine years have passed since Kosoglad’s
award—it is reasonable to believe that the market rate for Uribe’s services today
could be something more than $225 an hour.
Uribe’s past billing-rate awards provide further support for an increase from
$225. So far, Uribe has had her billing rate set in two civil rights cases: she received
$185 in 2013, Morjal, 2013 WL 2368062, at *6; and $225 in 2015, Volland-Golden,
2015 WL 12839131, at *4. See Pl.’s Fee Pet. at 11. That she previously received a
$40 rate increase after two years tends to make increasing her rate now (after
another two years) more reasonable.
Together, the declarations and Uribe’s historical rate awards satisfy
Bellamy’s burden. Here, there is enough evidence that the market rate for Uribe’s
services has risen since it was last set in 2015, and is now at least $250 an hour.
The Court awards Uribe $250 an hour.
4. Kevin Turkcan
Bellamy also asks the Court to award Turkcan a rate of $250 per hour. Pl.’s
Fee Pet. at 7, 10-11. The only evidence that Bellamy offers in support of this
request, however, is the fact that Turkcan’s rate was set at $200 an hour in 2015,
see Baker, 2015 WL 1888004, at *4. Pl.’s Fee Pet. at 10-11. Because Turkcan has
practiced law for an additional two years, and has tried an additional three civil
rights cases, Bellamy believes he is entitled to a $50 an hour raise. Id. at 11. But
she has not supplied any evidence—like an affidavit from a similarly experienced
civil rights attorney saying that he or she charges $250 an hour—that would justify
a $50 increase. The Court agrees that a raise in rate is warranted given Turkcan’s
increased experience, but because Bellamy did not justify the raise that she
requests, the Court will only give him the $15 an hour raise it gave to Hamilton and
Needham. Turkcan’s rate in this case is set at $215 per hour.
5. Anna Szymczak
As with Uribe and Turckan, Bellamy asks that Szymczak be awarded $250
per hour. Pl.’s Fee Pet. at 7, 12. This time, however, Bellamy submitted neither
“best” evidence (of what Szymczak has billed for similar work) nor “next best”
evidence (of affidavits from similarly experienced attorneys in Chicago describing
the rates that they charge or evidence of rates set for Szymczak in a similar cases)
to support the requested rate.9 Bellamy did not even submit a declaration by
Szymczak—or anyone else at the firm—describing Szymczak’s experience as an
says that the City of Chicago recently agreed to a rate of $250 per hour for
Szymczak in a FOIA lawsuit in May 2016. Pl.’s Fee Pet. at 12. But the Agreed Order in that
case indicates that the City paid less than what Szymczak’s firm had demanded, without
revealing what fees or costs had been reduced. See R. 157-5, Demand & Agreed Order at 23.
attorney.10 Because Bellamy has utterly failed to meet her burden, the Court
awards the rate that the Defendants have suggested: $150 per hour.
To summarize, the Court has set the following hourly rates:
B. Number of Hours
A district court must exclude from the initial fee calculation any hours that
were not “reasonably expended,” which includes hours that are “excessive,
redundant, or otherwise unnecessary.” Hensley, 461 U.S. at 434 (internal quotation
marks omitted). When submitting a fee petition, the attorneys for the prevailing
party are supposed to use the same “billing judgment” that they would use when
presenting a client with a legal bill. See id. (internal quotation marks omitted). This
Illinois’ Attorney Registration & Disciplinary Commission website indicates
that Szymczak has been a member of the Illinois bar since November 2014. See Lawyer
Search, ARDC, https://www.iardc.org/lawyersearch.asp (search “Last Name” for Szymczak).
11Defendants do not object to the paralegal billing rate. See Defs.’ Resp. at 14 n.3.
means that Bellamy’s counsel was supposed to make a “good faith effort” to exclude
from the fee request any hours that were not reasonably expended. Id.
Here, Defendants claim that Bellamy’s attorneys billed for hours that were
not reasonably expended or were insufficiently documented. Defs.’ Resp. at 11-12.
Defendants have identified a few categorical objections in their brief, see id. at 1114, but have made many more line-item objections in the billing spreadsheets
attached to their brief, see R. 176-1, Defs.’ Hamilton Obj.; R. 176-2, Defs.’ Needham
Obj.; R. 176-3, Defs.’ Turkcan Obj.; R. 176-4, Defs.’ Uribe Obj.; R. 176-5, Defs.’
Szymczak Obj.; R. 176-6, Defs.’ Add. Paralegal Hours. As the Court sees it, the
objected-to billing entries all fit under one of eight broad-based objections: (1) some
entries are duplicative and some work was overstaffed; (2) excessive time was spent
on certain legal tasks; (3) some entries are too vaguely described; (4) some entries
relate to issues on which Bellamy did not prevail; (5) some entries bill for work that
was not necessary for the case; (6) some entries charge for lower-level tasks at an
attorney rate instead of at the paralegal rate; (7) some entries involve matters of
“internal management” that should not be billed to a client; and (8) some entries
involve background research that should not be billed to a client. The Court
addresses each type of objection in turn.12
Court has only evaluated the objected-to billing entries in terms of the specific
ground(s) that Defendants identified—either in their brief or in the billing spreadsheets—
as their reason for objecting. This means that where Defendants objected to an entry solely
on the ground that it was, for example, duplicative but it was not, the Court allowed the
time even though the defense might have successfully objected on another ground (for
example, time spent working on a losing claim). See Ohio-Sealy Mattress Mfg. Co. v. Sealy
Inc., 776 F.2d 646, 664 (7th Cir. 1985) (“Counsel who oppose the fees have a …
1. Duplicative Billing and Overstaffing
Defendants maintain that Bellamy’s attorneys engaged in excessive
interoffice communication and unnecessarily performed the same tasks.13 See Defs.’
Resp. at 12-13. Because many law firms do tend to overstaff their cases, the Court
has closely scrutinized Bellamy’s fee petition for duplicative time. See Jardien v.
Winston Network, Inc., 888 F.2d 1151, 1160 (7th Cir. 1989). The Court does not
believe, however, that Bellamy’s counsel engaged in pervasive overstaffing.
During the fifteen months that elapsed between the filing of the original
complaint in March 2015 and the case going to trial in June 2016, Bellamy was
represented by a total of five attorneys. See Pl.’s Reply at 8; see also R. 3, Hamilton
Appearance; R. 5, Uribe Appearance; R. 6, Turkcan Appearance; R. 49, Szymczak
Appearance; R. 54, Needham Appearance. But not all of those attorneys
represented her the whole time. See Defs.’ Hamilton Obj. (billing from July 5, 2014
to September 1, 2016); Defs.’ Needham Obj. (billing from July 7, 2014 to August 15,
2016); Defs.’ Turkcan Obj. (billing from January 7, 2015 to September 1, 2015);
Defs.’ Uribe Obj. (billing from July 7, 2014 to June 2, 2015); Defs.’ Szymczak Obj.
(billing from September 9, 2015 to May 9, 2016). Hamilton, Needham, and Uribe
worked on the case from its outset, in July 2014. See Defs.’ Hamilton Obj. (Row 7:
responsibility to state objections with particularity and clarity. Miscellaneous fee data
cannot just be dumped on the bench for the judge to sort through and resolve.”).
13Defendants marked the time entries they believe are duplicative with the objection
“[d]uplicative of another attorney’s work.” This approach was largely unhelpful because
Defendants did not identify whose work the entry is duplicative of, making it difficult to
assess the validity of and basis for each of the Defendants’ objections. In the future, when
objecting to a billing entry as duplicative, defense counsel should be sure to identify what
that entry is duplicative of (simply adding an attorney name and row number to the
“Defendants’ Objections” column would have helped).
“initial client interview with [Needham], [Uribe], Plaintiff”). Turkcan became
involved in the case in January 2015, and took over Uribe’s responsibilities as the
primary associate in May 2015. See Defs.’ Turkcan Obj. (Row 25: “Case transition
meeting with [Uribe]”). Szymczak then joined the case in September 2015, but
stopped working on it in May 2016. See Defs.’ Szymczak Obj. at 1, 42. So, there were
at most four attorneys billing for the case at any given time, and often three. This
staffing situation might be excessive for the average § 1983 lawsuit, but Defendants
in this matter engaged in similarly heavy staffing: five attorneys entered
appearances for the defense, see R. 20, Marx Appearance; R. 23, Acuff Appearance;
R. 41, Moore Appearance; R. 82, Martin Appearance; R. 95, Kabacinski Appearance,
and three attorneys represented Defendants at trial, see R. 87, Proposed Pretrial
Order. For this reason, Defendants’ claims of overstaffing are largely overblown.
That said, the Court agrees with Defendants that the hours that Bellamy’s
attorneys devoted to drafting and reviewing emails are inflated.14 Although “[t]he
practice of law often, indeed usually, involves significant periods of consultation
among counsel,” Tchemkou v. Mukasey, 517 F.3d 506, 511 (7th Cir. 2008), billing in
increments of 0.10 of an hour, or six minutes, for exchanging and reviewing emails
is bound to be excessive, especially where three or four attorneys (two of whom were
senior partners) were a part of most email chains. See Smith v. Altman, 2015 WL
occasionally objected to the exchange of emails as “[i]nternal
communication,” see, e.g., Defs.’ Hamilton Obj. (Row 525), rather than as “[d]uplicative of
other attorney’s work.” These objections appear to protest the same thing—excessive billing
for drafting and reviewing emails—so the Court has treated them the same.
5675376, at *8 (N.D. Ill. Sept. 21, 2015). To compensate, the overall billing for
drafting and reviewing emails should be reduced by one-third.15
Apart from email communications, however, the Court finds that most of the
hours that Bellamy’s attorneys billed for other types of interoffice communication
(for example, face-to-face meetings, reviewing each other’s work) were reasonable.
“There is no hard-and-fast rule as to how many lawyers can be at a meeting or how
many hours lawyers can spend discussing a project.” Gautreaux v. Chi. Hous. Auth.,
491 F.3d 649, 661 (7th Cir. 2007). But, in general, “[t]alking through a set of
authorities or seeking advice on a vexing problem is often significantly more
efficient than one attorney trying to wade through an issue alone.” Tchemkou, 517
F.3d at 511-12.
In this case, an overall evaluation of the billing records reveals that—for the
most part—Bellamy’s attorneys kept the number and length of their consultations
reasonable. The entire litigation team met around 13 times in 18 months for case
status meetings. And these meetings were generally brief: many were only 0.10 to
0.20 hours long. It was reasonable for Bellamy’s attorneys to quickly check in with
Court does not know what this reduction amounts to in hours because
Defendants did not identify for the Court the total number of email hours that they are
objecting to, nor did they object in such a way that the Court could efficiently figure out the
number for itself. So, by September 8, 2017, Defendants shall inform Bellamy of (1) the
total number of email hours they have objected to and (2) exactly which billing entries
comprise their objection. Then, on September 22, 2017, the parties shall jointly file a
position paper with the Court stating whether they agree as to the total number of email
hours to which the one-third reduction should apply. If the parties are not in agreement,
then they should explain with specificity the grounds for their disagreement. The Court will
then enter final judgment as to attorneys’ fees. Of course, the parties are encouraged to
engage in settlement negotiations to speed along the resolution of the fees issue.
one another on the progress of the case on a less than monthly basis.16 So the Court
allows the time billed by all of Bellamy’s attorneys for case status meetings with a
couple of adjustments:
September 3, 2014 Case Status Meeting. Hamilton and Needham billed
0.10 hours for this meeting, R. Defs.’ Hamilton Obj. (Row 13); Defs.’ Needham
Obj. (Row 5), but Uribe billed 1.00 hours, Defs.’ Uribe Obj. (Row 5). Uribe’s
hours shall be reduced by 0.90 hours.
September 9, 2014 Case Status Meeting. Hamilton and Needham billed
0.10 hours for this meeting, Defs.’ Hamilton Obj. (Row 14); Defs.’ Needham
Obj. (Row 6), but Uribe billed 1.00 hours, Defs.’ Uribe Obj. (Row 6). Uribe’s
hours shall be reduced by 0.90 hours.
January 7, 2015 Case Status Meeting. On this date, Hamilton billed 0.20
hours to “confer with TPN re: case status and strategy,” Defs.’ Hamilton Obj.
(Row 23), and 0.30 hours for “case status meeting with litigation team re:
claims & defendants,” id. (Row 25). Meanwhile, Turkcan and Needham each
billed 0.30 hours for a single case status meeting with Hamilton. See Defs.’
Turkcan Obj. (Row 1); Defs.’ Needham Obj. (Row 19). Since Needham’s bills
reflect only one meeting with Hamilton, and because there was no good
reason to hold two separate case status meetings on the same day, the entry
to “confer with TPN re: case status and strategy” is stricken, and Hamilton’s
hours shall be reduced by 0.20 hours.
September 2, 2015 Case Status Meeting. Hamilton and Needham billed
0.10 hours for this meeting, Defs.’ Hamilton Obj. (Row 116); Defs.’ Needham
Obj. (Row 66), but Turkcan billed 0.20 hours, Defs.’ Turkcan Obj. (Row 76).
Turkcan’s hours shall be reduced by 0.10 hours.
Separate from the case status meetings, Bellamy’s attorneys also held a
handful of trial-team meetings. In particular, Hamilton, Needham, Turkcan, and
Uribe met on April 5, 2016 for 1.00 hours to prepare for the upcoming pretrial
alternate between objecting to the billing entries for case status
meetings on the ground that they are duplicative and the ground that they are vague. But
“case status meeting,” at least the way it is used here, is not vague: it is clear from context
that the team met on a near-monthly basis to check in on the status of the case.
conference and the pretrial filing due dates. See Defs.’ Needham Obj. (Row 169:
“meeting with TLH, KTT, ARS to discuss trial (exhibits, witnesses we need, pretrial order, motions in limine and jury instructions)”).17 Then, at the end of each
trial day, Hamilton, Needham, and Turkcan met for an hour or two, ostensibly to
discuss how the prior trial day went and strategy for the next day. See, e.g., Defs.’
Turkcan Obj. (Rows 494, 511). It was entirely reasonable for the full trial team to
have these meetings, so the time billed for them is allowed.
In addition to case-status and trial-team meetings, Defendants have made
duplicative-work objections to billing entries for a variety of other interactions
between Bellamy’s attorneys. Indeed, they have objected (1) when an attorney met
with at least one other litigation-team member to discuss a specific aspect of the
case, see Defs.’ Hamilton Obj. (Rows 28-30, 109, 165, 188, 201, 206, 275, 357, 516-17,
535,18 550, 761); Defs.’ Szymczak Obj. (Rows 77, 143, 212, 226, 232); Defs.’ Turkcan
Obj. (Rows 15, 25, 74, 132, 228, 277, 375, 429, 486); Defs.’ Uribe Obj. (Row 20);
Defs.’ Needham Obj. (Row 216); and (2) when an attorney edited or reviewed a
document drafted by another attorney or produced by defense counsel,19 see Defs.’
object to Hamilton’s billing entry for this meeting as vague, see Defs.’
Hamilton Obj. (Row 445); that objection is meritless in light of Needham’s very specific
18Defendants objected to this entry as “[i]nternal communication,” rather than as
“[d]uplicative of other attorney’s work.” The Court has viewed these objections as protesting
the same thing: excessive and duplicative billing for meetings.
19Defendants also made duplicative-work objections to time billed to draft
documents, presumably on the ground that they were later reviewed by at least one other
attorney (as the Court found no evidence that any attorney drafted something that another
attorney had already drafted). See Defs.’ Uribe Obj. (Rows 22-23); Defs.’ Turkcan Obj. (Rows
38, 121, 185, 194, 427, 493); Defs.’ Szymczak Obj. (Rows 16, 102, 106, 127, 146, 150, 169,
214); Defs.’ Hamilton Obj. (Row 267).
Hamilton Obj. (Rows 33, 82-83, 149, 153, 167, 173, 182, 185, 194, 200, 208, 254, 368,
583, 625, 786, 788); Defs.’ Turkcan Obj. (Rows 8, 15, 65, 77, 112, 126, 131, 139, 147,
154, 156, 178, 188, 235, 256, 260-61, 290, 301, 331, 344, 347, 350); Defs.’ Szymczak
Obj. (Rows 5, 50, 78-79, 107, 171, 178, 185, 190, 192, 233, 241); Defs.’ Needham Obj.
(Row 177). But it is standard practice for attorneys to meet to discuss issues and
case-related assignments, to review each other’s work (either to verify that the
substance of the work is accurate or to remain up to speed on the case), and to look
over documents produced by the defense. And although the 0.10 hour billing
increment is excessive for the average email exchange, it is much more reasonable
for real time-discussions and for drafting, editing, and reviewing documents.
Having closely inspected the billing records, the Court sees no suggestion that an
excessive number of attorneys undertook these activities.20 So, the Court allows the
time billed for the objected-to entries with a few minor adjustments:
Hamilton, 01/27/15, “confer with ARS re: Ds' SJ motion” (0.20 hours).
On January 27, 2015, Hamilton billed 0.20 hours to “confer with ARS re: Ds’
SJ motion” and 0.40 hours to “confer with ARS, TPN (Separately) re: Ds’ SJ
motion.” Defs.’ Hamilton Obj. (Rows 29-30). Needham and Szymczak,
however, billed only a combined 0.40 hours for this meeting. See Defs.’
Needham Obj. (Row 156); Defs.’ Szymczak Obj. (Row 143).21 Hamilton’s hours
shall be reduced by 0.20 hours.
for several of the objected-to entries, the Court could not find any
indication that more than one attorney billed for the same activity. See, e.g., Defs.’
Hamilton Obj. (Rows 28, 165, 188, 275, 357, 516-17, 550, 761); Defs.’ Turkcan Obj. (Rows
15, 132, 375, 429).
21Hamilton billed for this meeting in January 2015, while Needham and Szymczak
billed for this meeting in January 2016. Given that the complaint had not even been filed as
of January 2015, the year given for Hamilton’s billing entry is clearly a mistake (it must
mean January 27, 2016).
Turkcan, 06/12/16, “Phone call with TPN re: Trial prep with N. Kerr”
(0.30 hours). Turkcan billed 0.30 hours for this phone call with Needham.
Defs.’ Turkcan Obj. (Row 486). Needham, however, billed only 0.20 hours for
the same conversation. Defs.’ Needham Obj. (Row 257). Turkcan’s hours shall
be reduced by 0.10 hours.
Turkcan, 11/06/15, “Draft memorandum summarizing Plaintiff’s
deposition” (1.50 hours). On November 06, 2015, Turkcan billed 1.50 hours
to draft this memorandum, Defs.’ Turkcan Obj. (Row 194), but Turkcan had
already billed 2.50 hours to complete the same task on October 30, 2015, see
id. (Row 185). Turkcan’s hours shall be reduced by 1.50 hours.
Defendants have also made duplicative-work objections where multiple
attorneys attended client meetings, witness interviews, and depositions. In
particular, Defendants object to the fact that two attorneys billed to attend the
Bellamy, Wysinger, and Love depositions. See Defs.’ Turkcan Obj. (Rows 162, 205);
Defs.’ Szymczak Obj. (Row 141). But two defense attorneys attended Bellamy’s
deposition, see R. 183-3, Dep. Excerpts at 6-7, so Defendants have no good reason to
object to Turkcan and Syzmczak both attending that deposition. And, though only
one defense attorney attended the Wysinger and Love depositions, see id. at 22-23,
38-39, it was not unreasonable for two of Bellamy’s attorneys to attend. First,
though Turkcan and Szymczak both attended the Wysinger deposition, Turkcan
only attended for part of the time. See Defs. Turkcan Obj. (Row 205: “deposition of
Wysinger (not there for whole dep),” 2.80 hours). Second, it was not out of the
ordinary for two defense attorneys to attend the depositions: two defense attorneys
attended three of the ten depositions. See Dep. Excerpts at 6-7, 18-19, 30-31. So, the
Court allows Bellamy the entirety of the time billed by her attorneys to attend
Finally, the Court finds the time billed by Bellamy’s attorneys for client
meetings and witness interviews acceptable, with two exceptions:
July 7, 2014 First Client Meeting. Hamilton, Needham, and Uribe each
billed 1.00 hours for their first meeting with Bellamy. See Defs.’ Hamilton
Obj. (Row 7); Defs.’ Needham Obj. (Row 1); Defs.’ Uribe Obj. (Row 1). The
attendance of three attorneys, especially when two of those three were the
equivalent of senior partners, is excessive. And, in all likelihood, Needham
was present to discuss representing Bellamy in her criminal case, which is
not something that should be billed to Defendants. Needham’s hours shall be
reduced by 1.00 hours.
May 25, 2016 Client Meeting. On May 25, 2016, Hamilton and Needham
billed to go to 31st Street Beach with Bellamy. See Defs.’ Hamilton Obj. (Row
599: 1.90 hours); Defs.’ Needham Obj. (Row 210: 1.90 hours). Hamilton’s
billing entry states that Turkcan was also in attendance (though Turkcan did
not himself bill for this meeting). See Defs.’ Hamilton Obj. (Row 599: “scene
visit with [Turkcan], Plaintiff and [Needham]—take photos”). It was not
necessary for three attorneys to visit the scene with Bellamy to take
pictures—only one attorney’s presence was necessary, and a junior associate
would have been sufficient. Hamilton’s and Needham’s hours shall each be
reduced by 1.90 hours; in exchange, Turkcan’s hours shall be increased by
2. Excessive Billing
Defendants also contend that Turkcan and Syzmczak took too much time to
complete certain tasks. See Defs.’ Turkcan Obj. (Rows 352, 516, 519); Defs.’
Szymczak Obj. (Rows 7, 25, 33-34, 38, 74-75, 126, 128-29, 231, 236). Because each
excessive-billing objection is unique, the Court will address them individually:
Turkcan, 04/28/16, “Draft MIL regarding Plaintiff’s consumption of
alcohol (including legal research)” (4.00 hours). This non-standard
motion in limine is six-pages long, and has multiple case citations. See R. 90,
Pl.’s Mots. in Limine at 1-6. 4.00 hours is not an unreasonable amount of
time for a relatively inexperienced attorney to research and write something
of this length. The time is allowed.
Turkcan, 06/15/16, “Jury trial” (8.50 hours). According to the Court’s
notes, trial on June 15th started at around 8:50 a.m. and ended a little after
5:00 p.m. Turkcan’s hours shall be reduced by 0.20 hours.
Turkcan, 06/16/16, “Jury trial” (8.50 hours). According to the Court’s
notes, trial on June 16th started at around 8:50 a.m. and ended a little after
4:40 p.m. Turkcan’s hours shall be reduced by 0.50 hours.
Szymczak, 10/08/15, “Review 15-year CR histories for 4 defendant
officers for completeness, cross-reference CR’s produced by Defense”
(3.00 hours). It should not have taken Szymczak 3.00 hours to compare four
CR histories—four pages in total, see Defs.’ Resp. at 14—to the CR’s that the
defense produced. Szymczak’s hours shall be reduced by 2.00 hours.
Szymczak, 10/12/15, “Review CR files to determine what [is] missing;
send correspondence to lead attorney; print documents for file” (1.00
hours). Reviewing the contents of files is at least as time-intensive as simply
checking to make sure that files are present and accounted for (which is what
Szymczak did on October 8, 2015). The time is allowed.
Szymczak, 10/14/15, “Review additional production from Jason Marx,
FCRL 1818-30” (0.50 hours). Depending on their substance, it could take 30
minutes to review 13 pages of discovery. So, absent the defense indicating
that these pages were an easy read, 0.50 hours is reasonable. The time is
Szymczak, 10/14/15, “Create summary based on new production
FCRL 1818-30” (0.50 hours). Again, depending on the substance of FCRL
1818-30, 0.50 hours to create a summary could be reasonable. The time is
Szymczak, 10/14/15, “Draft cover letter to accompany Craig Akin’s
subpoena for deposition” (0.20 hours). The time billed for this task is
excessive given how routine it is to draft a cover letter to accompany a
subpoena; the firm likely had a template to use as a starting point.
Szymczak’s hours shall be reduced by 0.10 hours.23
claim not only that the time for this task was excessive but that it
should be billed at the paralegal rate instead of at Szymczak’s rate. See Defs.’ Szymczak’s
Obj. (Row 34). But summarizing evidence is an appropriate task for an attorney, so the
Court will allow Szymczak to bill for it.
23Defendants also ask that this task be billed at the paralegal rate. See Defs.’
Szymczak’s Obj. (Row 38). But a letter accompanying a subpoena reasonably could discuss
legal obligations, so the Court will allow Szymczak to bill for it.
Szymczak, 11/03/15, “Supplement to motion to compel. Find and
review all 27 CRs, pick individual CRs, review content, write draft[.]
Supplement with CR information” (3.50 hours). The supplement to the
motion to compel is eight-pages long, with seven pages of attachments. See R.
59, Supp. Mot. to Compel (Under Seal). 3.50 hours is not an unreasonable
amount of time for an inexperienced attorney to write something of this
length. The time is allowed.
Szymczak, 11/04/15, “Rework and continually edit draft supplement
in support of motion to compel” (2.40 hours). 2.40 hours is not an
unreasonable amount of time for an inexperienced attorney to rewrite and
edit an eight-page motion. This time is allowed.
Szymczak, 01/12/16, “Review Defendants’ written discovery responses
and Draft 37.2 letter to O/C” (1.50 hours). 1.50 hours is not out of the
ordinary for this task; the time is allowed.
Szymczak, 01/13/16, “Revise LR 37.2 letter regarding Defendants
responses to Plaintiff’s requests to produce and send for review”
(1.00 hours). 1.00 hours is not out of the ordinary for this task; the time is
Szymczak, 01/13/16, “Finalize first draft of Plaintiff’s LR 37.2 Letter
re: interrogatories, send to KTT for review” (0.50 hours). 0.50 hours is
not out of the ordinary for this task; the time is allowed.
Szymczak, 04/29/16, “Begin drafting Plaintiff’s Mils 1-8” (2.00 hours):
Bellamy’s motions in limine were twenty-two pages in total. See Pl.’s Mots. in
Limine. Some were standard and some were not. See id. Overall, 3.50 hours
total (see next bullet point) to draft fourteen motions in limine24 is
reasonable. The time is allowed.
Szymczak, 05/02/16, “P’s MILs 8-14” (1.50 hours). See previous bullet
point. This time is allowed.
3. Vague Billing
Defendants also contend that some of Bellamy’s attorneys’ billing entries are
insufficiently described. Defs.’ Resp. at 13. The Court has addressed a few of
also billed to draft the first motion in limine. See Defs.’ Turkcan Obj. (Row
352). But Defendants did not make a duplicative-work objection to either billing entry, and
3.50 hours is still a reasonable amount of time in which to draft thirteen motions in limine.
Defendants’ vagueness objections already, and now resolves the handful that
Hamilton, 02/16/15, “confer with TPN re: claims and defendants” (0.30
hours). This entry is not vague given the context of the case—the parties
were in the process of drafting the complaint. The time is allowed.
Hamilton, 10/26/15, “review CR charts for each D—instructions to
ARS” (0.40 hours). This entry is not too vague given the context of the
case—the parties were in the process of preparing a motion to compel the
defense to produce missing CR files, see R. 55 (filed October 29, 2015). The
time is allowed.
Hamilton, 03/10/16, “email from ARS re: deps ordered” (0.10 hours).
This entry is too vague (what depositions were ordered and for what
purpose?). Hamilton’s time shall be reduced by 0.10 hours.
Hamilton, 03/18/16, “email to TPN re: due date of MILs” (0.10 hours).
This entry is not vague. The time is allowed.
Hamilton, 03/23/16, “emails with ARS re: P’s Rog Responses” (0.10
hours). This is not vague; the billing records indicate that at the time,
Bellamy’s attorneys were working on responses to supplemental
interrogatories. The time is allowed.25
Hamilton, 03/25/16, “email from KTT re: DSe failure to dep Kofi” (0.10
hours). This entry is not vague. The time is allowed.
Hamilton, 03/27/16, “email to ARS with guidance for MILs” (0.10
hours). This entry is not too vague. The time is allowed.
Hamilton, 03/28/16, “emails (3) with ARS re: MILs” (0.20 hours). This
entry is not too vague; at the time, the parties were at the early stages of
preparing for the upcoming pretrial conference. The time is allowed.
Turkcan, 07/01/15, “Attend status hearing before J. Wood” (0.50
hours). This entry is too vague (the reference to Judge Wood is unexplained).
Turkcan’s hours shall be reduced by 0.50 hours.
spreadsheets show two bills for this same activity, see Defs.’ Hamilton
Obj. (Rows 431-32), but the spreadsheets that Bellamy submitted with her fee petition have
corrected this error, see R. 157-2, Hamilton Bills at 19.
Turkcan, 07/08/15, “Prepare Plaintiff’s document production key
summary memorandum” (0.40 hours). This entry is not vague. The time
Uribe, 05/04/15, “prepare 1st draft of JISR for TLH” (0.50 hours). This
entry is not vague: Uribe prepared the first draft of the joint initial status
report. The time is allowed.
Szymczak, 12/10/15, “appear in court” (0.70 hours). This entry is not too
vague; a status hearing was held on that date, see R. 73, 12/10/15 Minute
Entry. The time is allowed.
Szymczak, 12/21/15, “gather documents and other information per TH
instructions” (0.50 hours). This entry is too vague, and Hamilton’s entry
regarding her instructions does not add clarity, see Defs. Hamilton Obj. (Row
316: “draft notes to ARS re: to do list on case in final discovery weeks”).
Szymczak’s hours shall be reduced by 0.50 hours.
4. Billing for Issues on Which Bellamy Did Not Prevail
Defendants also claim that Bellamy’s attorneys have billed for time spent on
arguments that Bellamy lost or that are not sufficiently related to the excessive
force claim on which Bellamy prevailed. Defs.’ Resp. at 13-14. In particular, they
have objected to time billed for work done (1) on Bellamy’s criminal case; (2) with
respect to Defendant Haywil; (3) on a FOIA request to the Independent Police
Review Authority; (4) to respond to Defendants’ HIPAA motion, R. 47; R. 51; (5) on
Bellamy’s first motion to compel, R. 55, and its supplement, R. 59; (6) to otherwise
obtain and use Rule 404(b) evidence at trial; (7) to voluntarily dismiss Defendants
Benson, Wysinger, and Willis, R. 75; R. 80; (8) to reopen discovery to take Dr.
Ruskis’s Deposition, R. 96; (9) on Bellamy’s emergency motion to compel production
of OEMC event queries and audio recordings, R. 114, and related OEMC pretrial
work; (10) on Bellamy’s response in support of her trial exhibits 3 and 12B, R. 111;
(11) on Bellamy’s motion to reconsider the Court’s ruling on Defendants’ fourteenth
motion in limine, R. 112; (12) on Bellamy’s malicious prosecution claim; (13) on
Bellamy’s motion for post-trial discovery, R. 138; (14) on Bellamy’s motions for
prejudgment and post-judgment interest, R. 142; R. 160; (15) on Bellamy’s bill of
costs, R. 140; and (16) on other post-trial work. The Court will address each of these
categories of objections, flagging individual entries as necessary.
But first, a brief primer on fees for unsuccessful claims and arguments: to
start, a prevailing plaintiff is “not entitled to fees for time expended pursuing
unsuccessful claims that were unrelated to those claims on which the plaintiff
ultimately prevailed.” Jaffee v. Redmond, 142 F.3d 409, 413 (7th Cir. 1998). That
said, “when claims are interrelated, as is often the case in civil rights litigation,
time spent pursuing an unsuccessful claim may be compensable if it also
contributed to the success of other claims.” Id. So, federal courts have allowed the
recovery of fees for unsuccessful claims where those claims involved “a common core
of facts or related legal theories.” Id. at 414. By the same reasoning, “courts may
award fees for time reasonably spent on an unsuccessful argument in support of a
successful claim.” Id. “[T]he touchstone in such a case is not whether a particular
argument was successful, but rather whether it was reasonable.” Id.; see Montanez,
755 F.3d at 555 (“It’s not unexpected that some legal research will prove fruitless on
an ultimately successful claim, and a prevailing party may in appropriate
circumstances recover for time spent going down roads that seemed promising but
turn out to be dead ends.”).
Defendants’ spreadsheets include objections to (a) time that Needham spent
representing Bellamy in her criminal case, see Defs.’ Needham Obj. (Row 3), and (b)
time that team members spent discussing the status of the criminal case, see Defs.’
Needham Obj. (Rows 4, 7, 8); Defs.’ Hamilton Obj. (12, 15-17). Bellamy has
acknowledged that she may not recover for the former, Pl.’s Reply at 11, and the
spreadsheets that she filed along with her fee petition do not actually include time
billed to represent Bellamy in the criminal matter.26 But Bellamy is allowed the
time billed to keep Hamilton and Uribe apprised of the progress of the criminal
case, see Defs.’ Needham Obj. (Rows 4, 7, 8); Defs.’ Hamilton Obj. (12, 15-17)—that
time is recoverable because the outcome of Bellamy’s criminal case was pertinent to
her civil case.
Defendants also object to billing entries that reflect work done with respect to
Defendant Haywil. See Defs.’ Hamilton Obj. (Rows 52, 55, 64, 67-68, 70, 72-74, 76,
86-87, 89-91, 232-33); Defs.’ Needham Obj. (Rows 34,27 36, 41-42, 47-48, 51, 106-07,
109-11, 113, 122, 141); Defs.’ Turkcan Obj. (Rows 47-48, 50); Defs.’ Szymczak Obj.
(95, 112-114). Bellamy’s claims against Haywil—specifically, that Haywil was
vicariously liable for state-law battery and malicious prosecution, First Am. Compl.
¶¶ 50-59—were not sufficiently related to the excessive force claim on which
Bellamy prevailed at trial. And the objected-to entries—which pertain to serving
appear to have used an earlier version of the billing spreadsheets to
make their line-item objections. Pl.’s Reply at 11.
27Defendants also objected to this entry as “[b]ackground research, not billable to
defendants.” The Court has not discussed this entry in the subsection on Defendants’
background-research objections, see infra Section III.B.8, because the entry is stricken on
the “research not regarding defendants” ground for pertaining to Haywil.
Haywil and the motion for entry of default against Haywil—were not for the sort of
work that would have contributed to Bellamy’s eventual success on the excessive
force claim. So, Bellamy may not recover for the objected-to billing entries, with two
Needham, 11/24/15, “Review facebook info of Watkins and HayWil
owners (found by ARS)” (0.10 hours). This entry reflects work done with
respect to Haywil and Watkins. Bellamy may bill for the time spent
reviewing Watkins’s facebook info, so the Court cuts the time billed in half
and allows Needham 0.05 hours.
Szymczak, 12/14/15, “Research Online presence for witness Craig
Akins and Haywil owners” (1.00 hours). This entry reflects work done
with respect to Haywil and Creig Atkins—a witness to the altercation
between Watkins and Bellamy—which is work that can reasonably be said to
have contributed to Bellamy’s eventual success against Watkins. Szymczak is
allowed 0.50 hours for this work.
Hamilton’s hours shall be reduced by 3.70 hours; Needham’s hours shall be reduced
by 2.85 hours; Turkcan’s hours shall be reduced by 1.10 hours; and Szymczak’s
hours shall be reduced by 1.60 hours.
For similar reasons, Defendants’ objections to time billed for work done to
voluntarily dismiss Defendants Benson, Wysinger, and Willis, see Defs.’ Turkcan
Obj. (Rows 316-18); Defs.’ Szymczak Obj. (Rows 155-56, 159), and to time billed to
advance Bellamy’s malicious prosecution claim, see Defs.’ Szymczak Obj. (Row 216),
are sustained.28 Though the claims against Benson, Wysinger, and Willis were
related to the excessive force claim against Wysinger, the agreed motion to
of these entries are objected to on the ground that Bellamy “[d]id not prevail
on this issue,” while others are objected to as “[u]nnecessary to prevailing in case.” The
Court has addressed them together in this section because to the extent this work was
unnecessary, it was because Bellamy did not prevail on these claims and the objected-to
work cannot reasonably be said to have contributed to Bellamy’s success at trial.
voluntarily dismiss them from the case did not contribute to Bellamy’s success on
her excessive force claim. The same is true for the single malicious-prosecution
entry to which the defense objects. See Defs.’ Szymczak Obj. (Row 216: “research
and draft Jury Instructions on Malicious Pros and personal involvement
requirement”). Turkcan’s hours are reduced by 0.30 hours and Szymczak’s hours are
reduced by 1.60 hours.
Next, Defendants object to a variety of work that Bellamy’s attorneys did to
track down and use Rule 404(b) evidence at trial.29 Some of this time is recoverable
and some is not. Bellamy should receive fees for work that her attorneys did to seek
out Rule 404(b) evidence until the time that the Court decided the first motion to
compel, R. 55, First Mot. to Compel; R. 66, 11/22/15 Minute Entry (granting the
motion in part and denying it in part). See Defs.’ Hamilton Obj. (Rows 19, 199, 204);
Defs.’ Needham Obj. (Rows 12, 78, 112); Defs.’ Turkcan Obj. (Row 213); Defs.’
Szymczak Obj. (Rows 60-61). It was reasonable, at the outset of the case, for
Bellamy’s attorneys to look for other-acts evidence that might be admissible at trial.
And it was reasonable for Bellamy’s attorneys to file the motion to compel—indeed,
after the filing, the defense agreed to turn over several of the requested CR files and
some requested contact information, see R. 62, Defs.’ Resp. to First Mot. to Compel,
objected to these entries variably as “[w]ork not dealing with civil
case,” “[w]ork not necessary for case,” “[n]ot billable to this case,” “[n]ot necessary to this
case,” “[d]id not prevail,” “[n]ot necessary to case,” “did not prevail on this issue,” and
“unnecessary to prevailing in case.” Because Defendants did not explain the nuances, if
any, of these differing objections, the Court has addressed them all together, on the
assumption that the basis for all of these objections is essentially the same: that Bellamy
should not be allowed time billed to obtain Rule 404(b) evidence because that evidence was
ultimately deemed inadmissible at trial.
and then the Court granted the remainder of the motion in part, 11/22/15 Minute
Entry. That said, when the motion to compel was pending, the Court put Bellamy
on notice that she would need to be able to explain how the evidence she was
seeking “would be admissible under Rule 404(b) in view of United States v. Gomez,
763 F.3d 845, 859-60 (7th Cir. 2014) (en banc), which requires that the other-acts
evidence have a propensity free relevance.” R. 57, 10/29/15 Minute Entry. Bellamy,
however, failed to adequately engage with Gomez in both her supplement to the
motion to compel, R. 59, and in her briefing on the motions in limine, R. 91. See R.
98, 05/18/16 Order at 18 (“Bellamy’s response does not address the controlling case
law on Rule 404(b).”). Had Bellamy done a more thorough job of articulating a basis
for admissibility (even assuming that the Court still would have deemed the
evidence inadmissible), the Court might have allowed all of the time billed in
pursuit of Rule 404(b) evidence. But since she did not, the Court finds any Rule
404(b) work done after the motion to compel was decided unreasonable. See Defs.’
Hamilton Obj. (Rows 315, 361, 370,30 382, 390, 394, 411, 523); Defs.’ Needham Obj.
(Row 158); Defs.’ Turkcan Obj. (Rows 314-15, 390); Defs.’ Szymczak Obj. (Rows 140,
145, 194). Accordingly, Hamilton’s hours are reduced by 1.60 hours; Needham’s
hours are reduced by 0.10 hours; Turkcan’s hours are reduced by 0.30 hours; and
Szymczak’s hours are reduced by 1.40 hours.
were Rule 404(b) witnesses with the last-name “Williams,” but this entry
might also pertain to Kimberly Williams, one of Haywil’s owners. See Defs.’ Hamilton Obj.
(Row 370: “email from Investigator re: Williams non---service, dodging”). Either way, it is
Defendants additionally object to work that Bellamy’s attorneys did to
respond to Defendants’ motion for entry of a qualified HIPAA and MHDDCA
protective order, R. 47; R. 51. See Defs.’ Szymczak Obj. (Rows 20-21, 23, 27). This
time is allowed. Bellamy’s response to the defense motion was reasonable: the
defense was seeking access to all of Bellamy’s medical and mental health history,
and the response instead sought to limit the scope of the protective order to a threeyear period of discoverable information. See R. 51, Pl.’s Resp. to HIPAA Mot. at 3.
That three-year period is precisely what the Court allowed when it granted the
motion in part and denied it in part. R. 52, 10/14/15 Minute Entry.
The same goes for the work that Bellamy’s counsel did on the response in
support of trial exhibits 3 and 12B, R. 111. See Defs.’ Hamilton Obj. (Row 671).
Bellamy’s response brief was not frivolous; indeed, it articulated a basis for
admissibility that persuaded the Court to reserve ruling on Defendants’ objections
until trial. See R. 121, 06/11/16 Order. The hours billed to draft, edit, and review
Bellamy’s brief are allowed.
The time billed for Bellamy’s pretrial emergency motion to compel the
production of OEMC event queries and audio, R. 114, and for related pretrial work,
is also permitted. See Defs.’ Hamilton Obj. (Rows 566-67, 591,31 597-98, 607, 609,
615, 630, 634, 655, 657, 659-60, 662, 665-670, 672-73, 676-83, 692, 695); Defs.’
Needham Obj. (Rows 216, 221-24, 228, 230, 234-36, 239-40); Defs.’ Turkcan Obj.
also object to this entry on the ground that Bellamy “did not call
Maderak.” See Defs.’ Hamilton Obj. (Row 591). But the fact that Maderak did not
ultimately testify at trial does not make this entry unreasonable: the situation with the
OEMC records continued to evolve after May 25, 2016, which could have impacted
Bellamy’s initial decision to call Maderak.
(Rows 403-04, 406-10, 412-13, 418, 431, 433-35, 439-43, 446, 448, 451, 457, 461, 46466, 506). It was reasonable for Bellamy to seek to ensure that she had a complete
and accurate copy of the OEMC event inquiries and any audio recordings prior to
trial—especially once it appeared that there were, on the surface, potential
inconsistencies between the OEMC Audio Research Log produced by the defense on
May 31, 2016 and what had previously been provided to Bellamy. And the Court did
ultimately grant the emergency motion to compel in part, see R. 120, 06/10/16
Minute Entry, prompting additional pretrial disclosures.
Bellamy may not, however, recover for work done on her motion to reopen
discovery to take Dr. Ruskis’s deposition, R. 96; see Defs.’ Hamilton Obj. (Row 543);
Defs.’ Turkcan Obj. (Row 377), or on her motion for reconsideration of the Court’s
ruling on Defendants’ fourteenth motion in limine, R. 112; see Defs.’ Hamilton Obj.
(Rows 604, 632-33, 636); Defs.’ Needham Obj. (Row 229); Defs.’ Turkcan Obj. (Rows
391, 396, 414), because Bellamy did not have a reasonable factual or legal basis for
bringing either of these motions, see R. 105, 05/24/16 Order at 3 (“The trial date was
set back on February 16, 2016, R. 79, yet Bellamy did not subpoena Ruskis for trial
until three months later on May 16, 2016. R. 96 ¶ 3. This delay does not constitute
good cause under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 16(b)(4) to reopen discovery.”); R.
112, Pl.’s Mot. for Reconsideration at 1-2 (“Plaintiff recognizes the case law
supporting the Court’s decision on this issue.”). Hamilton’s hours shall be reduced
by 1.30 hours; Needham’s hours shall be reduced by 0.20 hours; and Turkcan’s
hours shall be reduced by 3.70 hours.
Finally, Defendants have objected to a variety of post-trial work. Bellamy
may not recover for the time billed for her post-trial discovery motion, see Defs.’
Hamilton Obj. (Rows 750, 752, 755-58, 762-63, 771-73, 775, 789-92, 796-800); Defs.’
Needham Obj. (Rows 288-89); Defs.’ Turkcan Obj. (Rows 531-33, 536-44, 553, 555,
557-60, 565, 568-72), but may recover for everything else to which Defendants’ have
objected, see Defs.’ Hamilton Obj. (Rows 754, 760, 764-66, 768-69, 777); Defs.’
Turkcan Obj. (Rows 535, 545, 547-48, 564), including work on her motions for
prejudgment and post-judgment interest, R. 142; R. 160, and her bill of costs, R.
140. Bellamy did not have a reasonable factual or legal basis for moving to re-open
discovery after the trial. See R. 186, 03/31/17 Order at 1 (“There is neither a legal
nor factual basis to re-open discovery after the trial.”). But it was perfectly
reasonable to file motions for prejudgment and post-judgment interest, as well as a
bill of costs. Bellamy was awarded post-judgment interest on the $8,000 punitivedamages judgment, 03/31/17 Order at 2, and she is being granted costs by this
Opinion, see infra Section III.D. What’s more, she may not have “prevailed” on her
motion for pre- and post-judgment interest on attorneys’ fees, R. 142, but it is not
accurate to say that she lost: the Court terminated the motion without prejudice to
refiling it with the anticipated fees and costs motion. See R. 144, 07/22/16 Minute
Entry. Rather than make the motion anew, Bellamy’s fee petition asks for current
market rate (in lieu of historical market rate plus interest). See Pl.’s Fee Pet. at 7
n.3. Regardless, it was reasonable for Bellamy’s attorneys to file a motion seeking
compensation for the delay in payment of their fees. So, striking only the billing
entries for Bellamy’s post-trial discovery motion, Hamilton’s hours are reduced by
6.00 hours; Needham’s hours are reduced by 0.70 hours; Turkcan’s hours are
reduced by 10.50 hours.
5. Billing for Tasks Unnecessary to Case
In addition to asserting that Bellamy has billed for time spent on arguments
that she lost or that are not sufficiently related to her excessive force claim,
Defendants have further identified a handful of billing entries as “[n]on-essential
work” or “[u]nnecessary to prevailing in case.” See Defs.’ Hamilton Obj. (Row 196);
Defs.’ Szymczak Obj. (Rows 73, 90, 137, 201). The Court deems all but two of these
billing entries appropriate:
Szymczak, 11/03/15, “Type summary of deposition notes for Cynthia
Bellamy (7 pages plus attorney work product summary and
impressions)” (1.50 hours). It is not clear to the Court why it was
necessary to summarize “notes,” which are themselves a type of summary.
Szymczak’s hours shall be reduced by 1.50 hours.
Szymczak, 01/19/16, “Make phone calls to psychologist or LCSW who
Plaintiff saw; search online for contact information” (0.50 hours). It is
not clear, on the face of the billing entry, why contacting the psychologist was
necessary to the case. Szymczak’s hours shall be reduced by 0.50 hours.
6. Billing for Paralegal Tasks at Attorney Rate
Defendants also contend that several tasks completed by Bellamy’s attorneys
should have instead been performed by a paralegal, and thus should now be billed
at the paralegal rate. See Defs.’ Add. Paralegal Hours. Only one of the entries to
which Defendants object, however, is a paralegal task32:
bill to “file executed summons” on April 14, 2015, see Defs.’ Add. Paralegal
Hours, reflects a paralegal task, but Bellamy did not actually include this entry in the
Szymczak, 10/14/15, “Draft Notices of Depositions for four Defendant
Officers” (0.30 hours)
The rest of the entries may be billed at an attorney rate. Szymczak’s hours are
reduced by 0.30 hours; in exchange, the paralegal hours are increased by 0.30
7. Billing for Internal Management
“[i]nternal/personal task.” The Court addresses each entry individually:
Hamilton, 12/21/15, “Draft notes to ARS re: to do list on case in final
discovery weeks” (0.30 hours). The language of this entry is ambiguous—
did Hamilton jot down ideas to discuss with Szymczak at a later time or did
Hamilton draft a document that was sent to Szymczak? Because the Court
cannot tell what Hamilton is actually billing for, Hamilton’s hours shall be
reduced by 0.30 hours.
Szymczak, 10/07/15, “Create to-do list based on Discovery planning
meeting” (0.50 hours). Szymczak already billed 1.00 hours on October 7,
2016 to prepare for the October 8, 2016 discovery planning meeting, see Defs.’
Szymczak Obj. (Row 11), so it is not clear that this entry is reasonable or
appropriate. Szymczak’s hours shall be reduced by 0.50 hours.
8. Billing for Background Research
Defendants object to several billing entries as “[b]ackground research, not
billable to defendants.” See Defs.’ Needham Obj. (13, 29, 31, 37, 75); Defs.’ Turkcan
Obj. (Row 338); Defs.’ Szymczak Obj. (18-19, 218-19, 237, 246-48). But it is not
unreasonable for attorneys to spend time doing legal research. See Inks v.
Healthcare Distribs. of Ind., 901 F. Supp. 1403, 1415 (N.D. Ind. 1995). Having
billing spreadsheet attached to her fee petition, see 157-4, Uribe Bills at 9, so the Court
need not reduce Uribe’s hours.
received no elaboration on the objection from the defense, the time billed for legal
research is allowed.33
In sum, not including the reduction for drafting and reviewing emails (which
will be determined by the Court following receipt of the parties’ position paper, see
supra n.15), Hamilton’s hours are reduced by 15.30 hours; Needham’s hours are
reduced by 6.75 hours; Uribe’s hours are reduced by 1.80 hours; Turkcan’s hours are
reduced by 16.90 hours; and Szymczak’s hours are reduced by 10.00 hours. The
paralegal’s hours are increased by 0.30 hours.
Defendants ask the Court to reduce the lodestar amount by 50% to account
for, in large part, Bellamy’s limited success at trial. Defs.’ Resp. at 2, 15-21; see
Linda T. ex rel. William A. v. Rice Lake Area Sch. Dist., 417 F.3d 704, 708 (7th Cir.
2005) (“The Supreme Court has said that the most critical factor in determining the
reasonableness of a fee award is the degree of success obtained.” (internal quotation
marks omitted)). In setting a reasonable fee, a district court must determine
whether “the plaintiff achieve[d] a level of success that makes the hours reasonably
expended a satisfactory basis for making a fee award.” Hensley, 461 U.S. at 434. “A
plaintiff who achieves excellent results should receive the entire lodestar, but where
of the entries to which Defendants objected might have been excluded had
Defendants fleshed out their objection or objected on other grounds. See, e.g., Defs.’
Needham Obj. (Rows 29, 31, 37, 75); Defs.’ Turkcan Obj. (Row 338); Defs.’ Szymczak Obj.
(Rows 218-19, 247-48). But, as the Court has already made clear, it has only analyzed
billing entries in terms of the particular objection that the defense made.
a plaintiff has achieved only partial or limited success the lodestar may be an
excessive amount.” Montanez, 755 F.3d at 556 (internal quotation marks omitted).
Here, Bellamy alleged five claims against five defendant officers, voluntarily
dismissed three of those officers, took three claims and two officers to trial, and
ultimately prevailed on one claim against one officer (against whom the jury
awarded $9,000.00 in compensatory damages and $8,000.00 in punitive damages).
This was not an “excellent result,” id. (internal quotation marks omitted). Nor
were the issues presented to the jury novel or particularly complex. And the
lodestar amount is much larger than the damages award. See Spegon v. Catholic
Bishop of Chi., 175 F.3d 544, 558 (7th Cir. 1999) (“although the fee award need not
be proportionate to the amount of damages a plaintiff actually recovers, it is a factor
that a court should consider when contemplating a reduction of the modified
Having considered all of the relevant factors, including the mix of losses with
the single win, as well as the damages on the single winning claim, the Court finds
that the lodestar should be reduced. But Defendants’ suggestion of a 50% reduction
is excessive: though Bellamy prevailed against only one defendant on one claim, she
achieved more than a nominal recovery, establishing both a compensable injury and
an entitlement to punitive damages against one of the officers. And, because the
case arose from the altercation between Bellamy and Watkins, much of the work
done on the case was likely pertinent to the excessive force claim against Watkins.
On balance, in the Court’s view, a 20% reduction is appropriate.34
D. Taxable Costs
Bellamy seeks $400.00 for fees of the clerk, $1,031.70 for fees for service of
summons and subpoena, $4,501.87 for fees for transcripts, $182.18 for fees for
witnesses, $1,589.25 for fees for copies, $118.20 for docket fees, and $638.55 for
other costs. Bill of Costs at 1. Defendants never filed an objection to the bill of costs
with the Court,35 but the Court must determine for itself whether the costs sought
are allowable, reasonable, and necessary. That said, Bellamy must be given a
chance to respond to the adjustments that the Court has made. Cf. Spellan, 59 F.3d
at 646 (“[B]ecause the reductions in question are the product of independent judicial
scrutiny of the record, the district court must afford the plaintiffs an adequate
opportunity to respond to the district court’s critique of the submitted [fee]
petition.”). Bellamy may flag any such disagreement with the Court in a motion for
Bellamy is awarded the full $400.00 for fees of the clerk. This cost is
statutorily allowable, 28 U.S.C. § 1920(1), reasonable and necessary. Under 28
Court has been careful to avoid impermissible double-counting—that is,
reducing the lodestar for something that it has already reduced the hours billed for. See
Spellan, 59 F.3d at 647. So, in deciding upon a 20% reduction, the Court considered the fact
that it already reduced the time billed for certain issues and claims on which Bellamy did
not prevail. But the Court finds that those reductions largely did not account for time spent
on tasks that would have contributed in part, but not in whole, to Bellamy’s success on the
excessive force claim (for example, deposing the other defendant officers).
35The Rule 54.3(e) statement indicates that Defendant thinks that Bellamy “seeks
reimbursement for several costs that have [been] disallowed by courts in this district,” but
does not identify which costs those are. See R. 156, Rule 54.3(e) Statement at 3.
U.S.C. § 1914(a), parties bringing civil suit are required to pay a filing fee of
$350.00, and, effective May 1, 2013, the Judicial Conference Schedule of Fees has
required parties filing civil suit to pay an additional $50.00, making the total civil
filing fee $400.00. Bellamy paid this fee, R. 1.
Bellamy is also awarded $4,010.62 in transcript fees. Money spent to obtain
a copy of a transcript is recoverable, 28 U.S.C. § 1920(2), so long as the transcript
was “necessarily obtained” and the cost of the transcript did not exceed the “regular
copy rate as established by the Judicial Conference of the United States and in
effect at the time the transcript … was filed.” L.R. 54.1(b). The current regular copy
rate, in effect since January 26, 2012, is $3.65 per page for original transcripts and
$0.90 per page for copies. A prevailing party may also recover fees paid to the court
reporter for his or her attendance, L.R. 54.1(b), but these fees cannot exceed $110.00
for a half day (four hours or less) and $220.00 for a full day. Here, Bellamy produced
fourteen invoices to substantiate her claim for transcript costs. See Bill of Costs at
22-36. Review of those invoices reveals that Bellamy regularly paid more than is
allowed in attendance fees.36 See id. at 23 (charging $281.25 for a full day); id. at 24
(charging $165.00 for a half day); id. at 25 (charging $166.25 for a half day); id. at
26 (charging $187.50 for a half day); id. at 27 (charging $187.50 for a half day); id.
at 28 (charging $156.25 for a half day); id. at 29 (charging $197.50 for a half day);
id. at 30 (charging $125.00 for a half day). So, Bellamy’s award has been reduced by
of the transcript invoices do not specify the total number of pages or the per
page rate charged. But since Defendants did not make an objection, thereby putting
Bellamy on notice that she should supply further documentation, the Court will let the
transcript charges stand.
$476.25, the amount she was charged in excess of the cap on attendance fees.
Bellamy’s award has further been reduced by $15.00, the amount that she was
charged for the delivery of the Bellamy-Sanders and Kerr depositions. See id. at 33.
“[C]osts associated with delivering, shipping, or handling transcripts are typically
non-recoverable ordinary business expenses,” Intercontinental Great Brands LLC v.
Kellogg N. Am. Co., 2016 WL 316865, at *3 (N.D. Ill. Jan. 26, 2016), and the Court
will not allow Bellamy to recover the delivery fee here where there is no apparent
special justification for having the transcripts delivered.
Bellamy’s request for $1,031.70 for fees for service of summons and subpoena
is granted. Although such costs are ordinarily recoverable, they cannot “exceed the
marshal’s fees, no matter who actually effected service.” Collins v. Gorman, 96 F.3d
1057, 1060 (7th Cir. 1996). Here, Bellamy provided proper documentation, and
where a fee for service exceeded the marshal’s fee, Bellamy reduced the fee
appropriately. See Bill of Costs at 3 n.1.
Bellamy is awarded $162.18 for witness fees. Under 28 U.S.C. § 1821, a
witness attending federal court is entitled to a fee of $40.00 per day of attendance
and is allowed mileage at a specified mileage rate. Bellamy has charged $45.00 per
witness per day in attendance fees, so each of those charges is reduced by $5.00 (for
a total reduction of $20.00). Bellamy did not provide documentation for the mileage
charges, but they are so small as to be presumptively reasonable.
Bellamy’s request for $1,589.25 in copying fees is granted. Copying costs are
recoverable so long as the copies were necessarily obtained. 28 U.S.C. § 1920(4). To
prove that copies were necessarily obtained, a party is “not required to submit a bill
of costs containing a description so detailed as to make it impossible economically to
recover photocopying costs.” Northbrook Excess, 924 F.2d at 643. A party is,
however, “required to provide the best breakdown obtainable from retained
records.” Id. Here, Bellamy has provided printing and copying reports to
substantiate the copying fees. See Bill of Costs at 37-43. These reports do not say
what was copied or who the copies were provided to, and most do not say what rate
was charged. But again Defendants did not object, and the Court does not think it
fair to deny Bellamy $1,589.25 in costs when she was not put on notice that she
should provide additional substantiating documentation to the Court.
Bellamy’s request for $118.20 in docket fees is also granted. Again, the
documentation provided, see Bill of Costs at 44-50, would probably not have been
sufficient had Defendants objected, but they did not and the Court is not willing to
say that these fees were unreasonable without briefing.
Finally, Bellamy is allowed $38.58 in other costs. The costs to obtain
Bellamy’s medical records and the certified statement of disposition in Bellamy’s
criminal case are permitted. See Finchum v. Ford Motor Co., 57 F.3d 526, 534 (7th
Cir. 1995) (“The papers included copies of medical records and pleadings. These
costs are clearly allowable.”); Lawson v. Bethesda Lutheran Cmtys., Inc., 2012 WL
6727544, at *2 (N.D. Ind. Dec. 28, 2012) (“Under § 1920, [c]opying costs of medical
records that are necessary for a case are allowable.” (internal quotation marks
omitted)). The private investigator fee, however, is not. As an initial matter, it is not
clear whether that kind of fee can be taxed, and even if it could, the fee pertains to
Rule 404(b) work that the Court has found unreasonable, see supra Section III.B.4.
All told, Bellamy is awarded $7,350.50 in taxable costs (in accordance with
the chart below).
Fees of the Clerk
Fees for Service of $1031.70
Summons and Subpoena (($65.00 x 15) + $6.70 + $50.00)
Fees for Transcripts
($281.25 + $165.00 + $166.25 +
([$281.25 - $61.25] + [$165.00 -
$187.50 + $187.50 + $156.25 +
$55.00] + [$166.25 - $56.25] +
$197.50 + $125.00 + $487.57 +
[$187.50 - $77.50] + [$187.50 -
$549.90 + $286.70 + $317.25 +
$77.50] + [$156.25 - $46.25] +
$195.05 + $177.94 + $209.51 +
[$197.50 - $87.50] + [$125.00 -
$15.00 + $298.12 + $274.99 +
$15.00] + $487.57 + $549.90 +
$286.70 + $317.25 + $195.05 +
$177.94 + $209.51 + [$15.00 $15.00] + $298.12 + $274.99 +
Fees for Witnesses
($46.48 + $45.79 + $45.00 +
([$46.48 - $5.00] + [$45.79 -
$5.00] + [$45.00 - $5.00] +
[$45.00 - $5.00])
Fees for Copies
($29.55 + $9.00 + $600.00)
($29.55 + $9.00 + [$600.00 $600.00])
For the reasons stated above, Bellamy’s fee petition, R. 157, is granted in part
and denied in part. Bellamy is awarded $7,350.50 in taxable costs. She is also
awarded attorneys’ fees at a current rate of $465 an hour for Hamilton and
Needham, $250 an hour for Uribe, $215 an hour for Turkcan, $150 an hour for
Szymczak, and $125 an hour for paralegal work. The Court has made specific
reductions to the hours billed and determined that the lodestar should be reduced
across the board by 20%, but it cannot calculate the modified lodestar without
knowing the total amount that each of Bellamy’s attorneys devoted to exchanging
emails. Defendants are directed to calculate the total time that each attorney spent
drafting and reviewing emails, and then to provide those calculations (along with
the identity of the objected-to entries) to Bellamy by September 8, 2017. The parties
must then file a joint position paper with the Court by September 22, 2017
identifying any disagreement as to the calculation. The Court will then apply the
email reduction to the hours billed, multiply those hours by hourly rates to calculate
the lodestar, reduce that lodestar figure by 20%, and enter final judgment as to the
amount of attorneys’ fees due to Bellamy.
s/Edmond E. Chang
Honorable Edmond E. Chang
United States District Judge
DATE: August 25, 2017
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