United States Court of Appeals For the Seventh Circuit
Civil Rights — attorney fees
Where the plaintiff was awarded only $3,001, an attorney fee award of $123,000 is not unreasonably low.
“The jury gave Richardson 1.5% of what he sought at trial. This was a dismal outcome; Richardson rued rejecting defendants’ settlement offers. He prevailed against only one of nine defendants. He lost 38 of his 39 claims. The district judge concluded that chunks of the litigation had been overstaffed, with multiple lawyers doing tasks that a single lawyer could have accomplished more economically. Despite all of this, the judge awarded Richardson approximately 18% of the fees his legal team requested (or about 20% after reductions for time that confidently could be traced to losing claims). An award of some $123,000 is generous in relation to Richardson’s recovery. It cannot be condemned as too low under the deferential standard applicable to appellate review. See Pickett v. Sheridan Health Care Center, 664 F.3d 632, 639 (7th Cir. 2011); cf. Pierce v. Underwood, 487 U.S. 552, 571 (1988).”
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Kendall, J., Easterbrook, J.