United States Court of Appeals For the Seventh Circuit
Civil Procedure — attorney fees — appeal
An appeal of an award of attorney fees must be filed within 30 days, even if no separate order is entered.
“Although the rules could be better drafted, there is no merit to the argument. Subsections (A) through (D) merely specify procedures for asking for attorneys’ fees, and those procedures happen to be inapplicable to a Rule 11 motion, which specifies its own procedures. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 11(c). Rule 54 does not create a right to seek attorneys’ fees. The right must come from somewhere else. Once the right comes into being, however, the rule supplies the procedures for enforcing it unless, as when Rule 11 is the basis of the right, the Rule 54 procedures are inapplicable. MRO Communications, Inc. v. American Tel. & Tel. Co., 197 F.3d 1276, 1280-81 (9th Cir. 1999). All that the reference in Rule 58(a)(3) to ‘an order disposing of a motion for attorney’s fees under Rule 54’ (emphasis added) can sensibly be understood to mean is that Rule 54, the rule on judgments, makes awards of attorneys’ fees one type of judgment and Rule 58 designates it as a type of judgment for which a separate judgment document is not required. Rule 58 should not be read to mean that some motions for awards of attorneys’ fees are ‘under’ Rule 54 and others are ‘under’ something else and therefore require a separate judgment document to start the 30-day appeal time running. We can’t think of any reason why appeals from awards of attorneys’ fees, whether awards based on violations of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure or awards based on the courts’ inherent power to sanction litigant or lawyer misconduct (or both, as in this case), should be subject to one deadline and appeals from other attorneys’ fee awards subject to another.”
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, Murphy, J., Posner, J.