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Civil Rights – attorney fees

United States Court of Appeals For the Seventh Circuit


Civil Rights – attorney fees

Where the plaintiff sought $100,000, but recovered only $100, the district court properly denied the plaintiff’s request for $100,000 in attorney fees.

“Aponte does not argue that, if Farrar governs this case, the district court unreasonably applied the three Farrar factors in determining the amount of the fee; nonetheless, we briefly address whether the district court abused its discretion in ruling that under Farrar a reasonable fee here is no fee. See Briggs, 93 F.3d at 361. Those three factors, articulated in Justice O’Connor’s concurrence, are the difference between amounts sought and recovered, the significance of the legal issue on which the plaintiff prevailed compared to those litigated, and public goal achieved. See Farrar, 506 U.S. at 121–22; Simpson, 104 F.3d at 1001. Of these three factors, the sum-awarded-versus-requested (which is also part of the threshold inquiry into whether to apply Farrar) is the most important. See Simpson, 104 F.3d at 1001. As with the threshold inquiry, the district court reasonably concluded that a recovery of $100, just 0.4% of the compensation Aponte requested, is trivial. The other two factors also justify no award because a victory on just one of eight legal claims is not significant, and the minimal money awarded reflected a mere personal victory without any identifiable, broader import to the public. See Briggs, 93 F.3d at 361.”


12-3099 Aponte v. City of Chicago

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Darrah, J., Tinder, J.

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