Doe et al v. Purdue University et al
OPINION AND ORDER: The Court hereby GRANTS in part Plaintiff's Supplemental Petition for Attorneys' Fees and Costs 194 and AWARDS attorneys' fees in the sum of $32,315. The Court DIRECTS the Clerk of the Court to enter judgment against Defendants Purdue University, Katherine Sermersheim and Alysa Rollock in the sum of $32,315 for attorneys fees. Signed by Magistrate Judge John E Martin on 5/17/2023. (shk)
USDC IN/ND case 4:18-cv-00089-JEM document 201 filed 05/17/23 page 1 of 5
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
HAMMOND DIVISION AT LAFAYETTE
MARY DOE and NANCY ROE,
PURDUE UNIVERSITY, et al.,
CAUSE NO.: 4:18-CV-89-JEM
OPINION AND ORDER
This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff’s Supplemental Petition for Attorneys’ Fees
and Costs [DE 194] filed by Nancy Roe on April 14, 2023. Defendants filed their response on
April 28, 2023, and Plaintiff filed her reply on May 5, 2023.
On November 13, 2018, two female students filed an eight count Complaint against
Defendants, their former University and several of its administrators, alleging that they were
assaulted in unrelated incidents by male students at Purdue University and were then wrongfully
expelled, with the expulsions later reduced to suspensions. Plaintiffs separately reported the
incidents to Purdue. According to the Complaint, Purdue investigated and found that Plaintiff Mary
Doe had “fabricated” her allegation and Plaintiff Nancy Roe had “reported [her] assault
maliciously.” Plaintiffs allege that Purdue “has implemented a policy . . . wherein women who
cannot prove their claims to the satisfaction of Purdue decisionmakers face discipline up to
expulsion at Purdue,” and assert that both Plaintiffs were wrongly suspended.
After a motion to dismiss was granted in part, the remaining counts alleged violations of
Title IX, retaliation under Title IX, deprivation of civil rights under § 1983 against the individuals
USDC IN/ND case 4:18-cv-00089-JEM document 201 filed 05/17/23 page 2 of 5
in their official capacity, and individual § 1983 liability. Plaintiff Mary Doe and Defendants
resolved the case on August 31, 2022, and the case proceeded to a jury trial as to Plaintiff Nancy
Roe only. On September 23, 2022, the five-day jury trial resulted in a verdict in favor of Plaintiff
Roe against Defendant Purdue with a damages award of $10,000 and a verdict in favor of Plaintiff
Roe against Defendants Sermersheim and Rollock with a damages award of $0.
Roe filed her Petition for Attorneys’ Fees and Costs and Bill of Costs, which, after
significant briefing, was granted in part on March 31, 2023. Roe filed the instant Supplemental
Petition for Attorneys’ Fees and Costs seeking recovery of her post-trial fees and costs on April
14, 2023. Defendants filed their response on April 28, 2023, and Roe filed her reply on May 5,
The parties filed forms of consent to have this case assigned to a United States Magistrate
Judge to conduct all further proceedings and to order the entry of a final judgment in this case.
Therefore, this Court has jurisdiction to decide this case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c).
Roe’s Supplemental Petition for Attorneys’ Fees seeks an award of attorneys’ fees of
$32,845.00 as post-trial fees as the prevailing party, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
54(d) and 42 U.S.C. § 1988(b). Defendants argue that Roe is not entitled to attorneys’ fees and
costs because certain items are for appellate work, that Roe did not prevail on all of her post-trial
motions and that this petition is premature because the rulings at issue are on appeal. Roe argues
that the contested time entries relate to non-appeal work as well, fees are recoverable for partial
success, and there is no support for Defendants’ argument that the instant Petition is premature.
USDC IN/ND case 4:18-cv-00089-JEM document 201 filed 05/17/23 page 3 of 5
Defendants argue that Roe’s request for fees is premature. Roe argues that pursuant to Rule
54(d), her petition for fees had to be filed when she filed it, and therefore it cannot be premature.
With the exception of citing Rule 54(d), neither party cites any legal authority or fully develops
the argument relative to prematurity. Accordingly, the Court need not consider the argument.
Defendants argue that Roe is not entitled to fees for post-trial work because she did not get
the injunctive relief she sought and therefore cannot be considered a prevailing party. Roe argues
that she received injunctive relief that, although different than what she sought, accomplishes her
goal of requiring that Purdue disclose the wrongfulness of their suspension of her.
In her post-trial motion, Roe requested injunctive relief in the form of certain additions to,
and deletions from, her Purdue transcript. Defendants argued that the requested relief was not
possible. The Court crafted an alternative injunctive remedy: requiring Purdue to remove any
references that it could remove and attach a copy of the jury verdict in this case (a public record)
to Roe’s transcript. This relief accomplished Roe’s goal of having any transcript issues explained,
and having her position vindicated when Purdue provided the transcript.
Defendants assert that Roe also failed to obtain an injunction prohibiting Defendants from
speaking about the case. However, although Roe complained about Purdue’s statements about the
case, she did not request that they be prohibited from speaking about it; she only requested that
they take certain action with respect to her transcripts and, a modified form of that relief was
granted. The Court cannot say that Roe was not successful in obtaining her desired result, and any
lack of success was due to Defendants claiming they were unable to accomplish the relief she
USDC IN/ND case 4:18-cv-00089-JEM document 201 filed 05/17/23 page 4 of 5
requested. The Court will not reduce her award for lack of success. Capps v. Drake, 894 F.3d 802,
806 (7th Cir. 2018).
Defendants also argue that Roe was not a prevailing party with respect to her request for
attorney fees that were waived by Doe’s settlement with Defendants, calling the request a
“knowing breach of a written contract.” Roe argues that the request for fees was made in good
faith because the time was necessary to advance both cases. Although Roe was not entitled to fees
incurred as part of joint representation because of the settlement agreement, the request for fees
was not a knowing violation of the settlement agreement and the Court’s decision not to award her
that portion of her request does not mean she was not a prevailing party on her previous motion
Appropriateness of fees for work related to appeal
Defendants also specifically object to certain fees charged for work related to the appeal
currently pending before the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Plaintiff argues that the request is
appropriate because “there was a serious question about how the Defendants’ position in the
Seventh Circuit affected their anticipated motion for relief notwithstanding the verdict in the trial
court.” P’s Rep. p. 2 [DE 200]. The three identified time entries total 1.3 hours: .5 hours by BAM
at $500 per hour, and .8 hours by JAM at $350 per hour. Since the time entries seem to relate more
to the pending appeal than to the post-trial motions and would have to have been incurred
regardless of whether post-trial motions were pending, $530 will excluded.
The Court has carefully reviewed all of the fee information submitted and, taking into
account the extensive nature of the post-trial motions and the relief Roe was awarded on the posttrial motions finds that an award of fees in the amount of $32,315, reflecting the $32,845 Roe
USDC IN/ND case 4:18-cv-00089-JEM document 201 filed 05/17/23 page 5 of 5
requested less the $530 for time spent on work related to the appeal, as reflected above, is
For the foregoing reasons, the Court hereby GRANTS in part Plaintiff’s Supplemental
Petition for Attorneys’ Fees and Costs [DE 194] and AWARDS attorneys’ fees in the sum of
$32,315. The Court DIRECTS the Clerk of the Court to enter judgment against Defendants Purdue
University, Katherine Sermersheim and Alysa Rollock in the sum of $32,315 for attorneys’ fees.
SO ORDERED this 17th day of May, 2023.
s/ John E. Martin
MAGISTRATE JUDGE JOHN E. MARTIN
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
All counsel of record
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?