Nichols v. Ill. Dept. of Transportation

Federal 7th Circuit Court
Civil Court
Attorney Fees
Case Number: 
No. 19-1456
Decision Date: 
July 6, 2021
Federal District: 
N.D. Ill., E. Div.

Dist. Ct. did not err in awarding plaintiff’s counsel $774,584.50 in attorney's fees, which represented decrease from $1,709,345 request in attorney’s fees that counsel claimed in fee petition submitted on behalf of plaintiff, who was prevailing party in Title VII discrimination claim. Dist. Ct. could properly establish reasonable hourly rate at $360 per hour instead of counsel’s requested $550 per hour in fee petition, even though counsel submitted six affidavits in support of his requested fee. Three affiants did not state their own hourly rate and made only conclusory statements to support fee request. Moreover, other three affiants either did not specially address requested rate, provided only general statements or did not list judicially approved or client-paid rates for work in similar employment discrimination cases. Also, Dist. Ct. could properly look to $360 per hour rate given to plaintiff’s counsel by another court in prior case. Too, Dist. Ct. did not abuse its discretion in refusing to award counsel fees for time spent traveling to courthouse for routine hearings, where counsel failed to show that he billed other clients for travel time to such hearings, and where Dist. Ct. allowed parties to appear by telephone in order to avoid unnecessary expense to clients. Dist. Ct. also did not err in rejecting counsel’s request for upward adjustment based on plaintiff’s minority group status, where Dist. Ct. could properly note that successful Title VII plaintiffs are often members of minority groups.