Civil Liability
of Law Enforcement Agencies & Personnel

     Back to list of subjects             Back to Legal Publications Menu

Attorneys' Fees & Costs: For Plaintiffs

     Monthly Law Journal Article: Attorneys' Fees in Federal Civil Rights Lawsuits: An Introduction - Part One , 2011 (4) AELE Mo. L. J. 101
     Monthly Law Journal Article: Attorneys' Fees in Federal Civil Rights Lawsuits: An Introduction - Part Two, 2011 (5) AELE Mo. L. J. 101

     In a case involving alleged illegal seizure and retention of an SUV, partial summary judgment for the plaintiffs was entered, after which a $10,000 settlement was reached. The court then awarded $132,217.75 in attorneys fees to the plaintiffs as prevailing parties (less than they requested), along with $1,548.62 in costs. A federal appeals court ordered further proceedings to determine the reasonable amount of fees to be awarded, agreeing that the plaintiffs were the prevailing parties, and also holding that the plaintiffs were entitled to fees incurred in pursuing the appeal. Hines v. City of Albany, #16-1056, 2017 U.S. App. Lexis 12042 (2nd Cir.).

     The plaintiff filed challenges to a city's ordinances prohibiting the use of sound amplification devices on public sidewalks and prevailed, invalidating several aspects of the ordinance. He was also awarded nominal damages. As a result, the ordinance was amended to expand the permissible use of amplification devices. While a plaintiff who prevails but is only awarded nominal damages while seeking compensatory damages may be denied attorneys' fees, this lawsuit did not seek compensatory damages. Instead, the lawsuit primarily sought to change the law and succeeded in that, and therefore could be awarded attorneys' fees under federal law, while being properly denied such fees on claims brought under California law. Klein v. City of Laguna Beach, #13-56973, 2016 U.S. App. Lexis 578 (9th Cir.).
     A jury found that a city and its police department violated a man's rights by obtaining a warrant to search his home, while failing to disclose in seeking the warrant that he had not been living in the house for seven months prior to the gang-related shooting being investigated because he had been incarcerated for unrelated charges. In determining whether to award attorneys' fees and costs against the defendants, the appeals court held, it was appropriate to take into account the settlement the plaintiff obtained against another city also involved in the same incident, as a result of which he obtained $150,000 in damages, as well as $169,856.34 in attorney fees, and $16,208.95 in costs, while only $5,000 in damages were awarded against the first city after trial. The appeals court upheld the trial court's award of $1.023 million in attorneys' fees finding that the award was supported both by the public benefit of the lawsuit and the $150,000 settlement against another party arising out of the same facts, while ruling that further proceedings should be held on the $13,376.85 in costs awarded by the trial court, taking into account the costs recovered in the prior settlement. Bravo v. City of Santa Maria, #14-55557, 2016 U.S. App. Lexis 432 (9th Cir.).

     A police officer testified falsely against an arrestee at a preliminary hearing. Six years later, the city agreed to pay the arrestee $150,000 and not to oppose any motion he might bring for a declaration of factual innocence. The parties also agreed that he could seek an award of attorneys' fees under 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1988. The plaintiff sought $1,448,497 in attorneys' fees and $75,255 in costs. The trial court awarded attorneys' fees of $436,807.50 and costs of $23,935.07, and declined to apply a requested 1.5 multiplier on the fees, which the plaintiff asked for based on the "significant risk counsel has taken in litigating this hotly contested matter on a wholly contingent basis, with little prospect of settlement until the eve of trial." An intermediate California appeals court found the trial court's reasoning in reducing the fees to be awarded as inadequate in four ways: 1) arbitrarily awarding the fees at less than half the market rate without articulating a basis for reducing the fees to be awarded, (2) erroneously determining that fees were unavailable under California Code of Civil Procedure section 1021.5, (3) failing to address enhancement of the award under 42 United States Code section 1988 (section 1988), and (4) erroneously ruling that contingent risk could not be considered as an enhancement factor under state law. Reconsideration of the attorneys' fee award was ordered. Kerkeles v. City of San Jose, #H040919, 2015 Cal. App. Lexis 1132..
     A man sued the City of Chicago and a number of its officers for excessive force, false arrest, and unlawful search and seizure as well as associated claims. He accepted an offer of judgment from the defendants under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 68(a) of $10,001 "plus reasonable attorney's fees and costs accrued to date." The plaintiff and defendants were subsequently unable to reach an agreement on the amount of attorneys' fees, with the plaintiff asking for $22,190.50. After further proceedings, the court awarded $17,205.50, less than requested. The plaintiff then requested an additional $16,773 in attorneys' fees for the time spent litigating the fees petition. While the defendants argued that an award of further fees would be violative of the settlement agreement, the trial court awarded an additional $2,000 to compensate for time spent responding to challenges to the fees that were unsupported and improper." The federal appeals court upheld this award, finding that the trial court had the authority under 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1988 to award the additional fees and did so only for the conduct of the defendants that "fell outside" the provisions of the offer of judgment. Rule 68(a) did not limit the court's authority to fashion remedies for offending conduct. Morjal v. City of Chicago, #14-1365, 2014 U.S. App. Lexis 23980 (7th Cir.).
     A jury found that a police officer used excessive force in allegedly using a Taser in the stun mode repeatedly and punching an arrestee at a police station while he was in handcuffs. It awarded $1 in compensatory damages and $7,500 in punitive damages against the officer. The trial judge then awarded $187,467 in attorneys' fees, rejecting arguments that the plaintiff could not collect attorneys' fees because the compensatory damages awarded were minimal, and holding that the plaintiff's victory was "real, not Pyrrhic" because of the sizable award of punitive damages against the officer. The plaintiff argued that the city should indemnify the officer for the attorneys' fee award. While the trial court ruled that the city was liable for the fees under the Governmental and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act, 745 ILCS 10/9-102, a federal appeals court reversed, finding that the language of the state statute gave the city discretion as to whether to decide to indemnify an officer for an award of attorney's fees associated with an award of compensatory damages. It also rejected an argument that the terms of a collective bargaining agreement with the police union required that the city pay the attorneys' fee award, as the agreement does not explicitly address attorneys' fees, but only "damages or monies." Winston v. O'Brien, #14-1371, 2014 U.S. App. Lexis 21290 (7th Cir.).
    An anti-abortion protester successfully sued a county sheriff's office for violation of First Amendment rights by requesting that graphic signs with disturbing pictures of aborted fetuses not be displayed in a public demonstration. While injunctive relief was awarded, no damages were awarded against individual defendants because of qualified immunity. In Lefemine v. Wideman, #12-168, 133 S. Ct. 9, 10 (2012), the U.S. Supreme Court held that the plaintiff was still a prevailing plaintiff fo purposes of an award of attorneys' fees. On remand, the trial court abused its discretion by denying the plaintiff an award of attorneys' fees. The presence of qualified immunity, the nature of the relief granted, and the absence of a policy or custom of discrimination were not enough, individually or taken together, to deny an award of such fees. Lefemine v. Wideman, #13-1629, 2014 U.S. App. Lexis 13218 (4th Cir.).
     An off duty officer fired his gun at a man during an argument over the officer's former girlfriend. He missed. The officer told other officers who arrived on the scene that the other man had hit him with a baseball bat. Charges against the man were dismissed and he sued the city, the off duty officer, and the arresting officers. The city was dismissed prior to the trial as no basis for municipal liability was shown, with the trial judge finding none of the city's policies at issue inadequate. The jury rejected all other claims except the claim against the off duty officer for firing the shot, awarding $1 in nominal damages and $3,000 on punitive damages. The appeals court upheld an award of $123,000 of attorneys' fees to the plaintiff, out of $675,000 requested, finding it generous since the plaintiff only prevailed on one out of 39 claims. The attorneys' fees were only awarded against the off-duty officer, and the plaintiff was properly ordered to pay the city's costs, since he had not prevailed against the city. Under state law, the city had to indemnify the off-duty officer for the $1 in nominal damages, but not for the punitive damages award. Richardson v. City of Chicago, #13-2467, 2014 U.S. App. Lexis 1195 (7th Cir.).
     An animal control officer was not entitled to qualified immunity for obtaining an arrest warrant lacking evidentiary support and using it to arrest a woman for allegedly withholding information about rabid animals. Damages of $2,943.60 were properly awarded, but an award of attorneys' fees was reduced from $322,340.50 to $100,000, since the trial court overstated the extent of the plaintiff's success.
McAfee v. Boczar, #13-1356, 2013 U.S. App. Lexis 24709 (4th Cir.).
     Under a settlement agreement, a number of lawsuits against a city, its police department, and a number of government officials were settled for $500,000. The plaintiffs sought an award of $1 million in attorneys' fees for work on the merits of the cases and an additional $25,000 for work on the fee petition. Their initial application had calculated their fees at $1,455,339, but they reduced their request pursuant to the settlement agreement. The trial court awarded $473,138.24 in fees. The attorneys' fee award was vacated by the appeals court. It noted that the trial court should have computed the fee using an hourly rate based on the prevailing market rates in the community. When it reduces the number of hours or amount by more than 10%, it must provide a detailed explanation. An award of attorneys' fees that is in excess of the damages recovered is not per se unreasonable, as the trial court seemed to think. As the trial court did not apply these principles, further proceedings were required. Gonzalez v. City of Maywood, #11-56594, 2013 U.S. App. Lexis 18703 (9th Cir.).
     A homeowner sought $9,462 in compensatory damages that he claimed was needed to refurnish his home after an unreasonable execution of a search warrant by four officers. He also sought damages for emotional distress and punitive damages. A jury found for the plaintiff against only one officer and awarded only $100. He then sought an award of $116,435 in attorneys' fees as a prevailing party for 450 hours of work. A federal appeals court upheld a denial of attorneys' fees, finding that the jury award on just one of eight claims made was nominal and trivial and did not provide any public benefit. Aponte v. City of Chicago, #12-3099, 2013 U.S. App. Lexis 18111 (7th Cir.).
     A deputy sheriff detained and handcuffed for about a minute a nine-year-old female African-American student at school following her disagreement with her teacher, to whom she allegedly made a disrespectful and supposedly threatening remark. The student was arguably compliant when the deputy approached her. A jury subsequently awarded one dollar in nominal damages. A federal appeals court subsequently ruled that the trial court abused its discretion in awarding $39,000 in attorneys' fees to the plaintiff when she had only achieved minimal results rather than the $25,000 in damages she had sought. Gray v. Bostic, #12-11819, 2013 U.S. App. Lexis 13558 (11th Cir.).
     A man claimed that officers who came to his house to arrest his brother under a warrant used excessive force against him when he answered the door, lying on top of him, using a chokehold, and using pepper spray. The jury awarded the plaintiff over $2 million in damages, which was reduced by $500,000 to $1,611,656.52 by the trial court. A federal appeals court found that the jury's award and their decision to believe the plaintiff's version of the incident were supported by the evidence, and that the officers were not entitled to qualified immunity. It rejected the officers' argument that if they mistakenly believed that the plaintiff was resisting them that they could use any amount of force as they were only entitled in that instance to use force reasonably necessary. A "reasonable officer would have known it violated clearly established law to use a chokehold on a non-resisting arrestee who had surrendered, pepper-spray him and apply such knee pressure on his neck and back that it would cause the collapse of five vertebrae in his cervical spine."It also found that the trial court failed to adequately explain its reasons for reducing the amount of attorneys' fees and in denying the plaintiff pre- and post-judgment interest, so further proceedings were required. Barnard v. Theobald, #11-16655, 2013 U.S. App. Lexis 13415 (9th Cir.).
     A Californis man claimed that sheriff's deputies unlawfully arrested him and beat him during the incident while he was handcuffed and not resisting arrest. He sued under a state statute authorizing damage claims "against anyone who interferes, or tries to do so, by threats, intimidation, or coercion, with an individual's exercise or enjoyment of rights secured by federal or state law," known as the Bane Act. The jury awarded damages on the plaintiff's claims totaling over half a million dollars, and $989,258 in attorneys' fees. A California intermediate appeals court upheld this result, rejecting an argument that the Bane Act required a showing that the "threats, intimidation, or coercion" caused a violation of a separate and distinct constitutional right in addition to a Fourth Amendment violation. The court ruled that Fourth Amendment rights are among those protected by the statute. Bender v. County of Los Angeles, #B236294, 2013 Cal. App. Lexis 536.
     A police officer shot and killed a female motorist at the conclusion of a high-speed chase of a stolen vehicle, firing twelve rounds into the car which had stopped after ramming a police car several times. The woman had yelled "Fuck you!" in response to orders to turn off her car. The woman's children sued the officer for violation of their due process rights. The officer's motion for qualified immunity was denied, with the trial judge concluding that the jury could, based on the alleged facts, conclude that the officer had used deadly force with a purpose to harm the woman unrelated to any legitimate law enforcement objective. The jury awarded $30,000 in damages to both of the decedent's minor children. A federal appeals court upheld the pretrial denial of qualified immunity and the jury's verdict, finding it reasonable. Further proceedings were ordered, however, on an award of attorneys' fees and costs, with the appeals court finding that the trial judge should consider the amounts discussed in settlement negotiations when determining the reasonable amount of fees to award, based on an intervening change in the law reflected in In re Kekauoha-Alisa, #09-60019, 674 F.3d 1083 (9th Cir. 2012); and Ingram v. Oroudjian, #09-57022, 647 F.3d 925, 927 (9th Cir. 2011), cases decided after the fee award, but before the appeals court's decision. A.D. v. State of California Highway Patrol, #09-16460, 2013 U.S. App. Lexis 6689 (9th Cir.).
     Police officers were sued for preventing demonstrators from carrying pictures of aborted fetuses during anti-abortion demonstrations. The plaintiffs were granted a permanent injunction against this practice as violating their First Amendment rights but were not awarded attorneys' fees under the theory that they were not "prevailing parties" for purposes of 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1988 since they had not been awarded money damages. The U.S. Supreme Court vacated this decision, noting that the plaintiffs had prevailed because the injunction ordered the defendants to change their behavior in a way that directly benefitted the plaintiffs. Lefemine v. Wideman, #12-168, 2012 U.S. Lexis 8566 (per curiam).
     Plaintiffs entered into a $30,000 settlement agreement with a city and police officers on claims arising out of their arrest. The settlement was offered by the defendants under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 68. Subsequently, the trial court awarded a total of $290,997.94 in costs to the plaintiffs under 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1988, including $286,065.00 in attorneys' fees. The appeals court rejected the argument that the Rule 68 offer of judgment to settle all claims should have been interpreted to include any costs, including attorneys' fees, when that was not specified. It also rejected the argument that the fee award was disproportionate to the success achieved in the litigation, as the defendants had not preserved that argument for appeal. Barbour v. City of White Plains, #11-2229, 2012 U.S. App. Lexis 23386 (2nd Cir.).
     When the U.S. Supreme Court held, in McDonald v. Chicago, #08-1521, 130 S. Ct. 3020 (2010) that Chicago and Oak Park, Illinois ordinances banning the possession of handguns for home self-defense were subject to the restrictions of the Second Amendment, those municipalities repealed their existing ordinances, making further litigation over them moot. A federal appeals court has held, however, that since the controversies were not moot at the time of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision, the plaintiffs in the case were entitled to an award of attorneys' fees as prevailing plaintiffs under 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1988. National Rifle Association of America, Inc. v. City of Chicago, #10-3957, 2011 U.S. App. Lexis 11055 (7th Cir.).
     Nonprofit associations consisting of day laborers and agencies working with them challenged a municipality's enforcement of restrictions on soliciting work on public sidewalks. They objected to actions of sheriff's deputies in "running" day laborers looking for work off the public sidewalks at several intersections. One plaintiff later reached a settlement with the municipality. The trial court then denied a motion by another plaintiff seeking an award of attorneys' fees. This plaintiff association, which failed to assert any facts to support its claim that it was forced to divert resources to aid another association because of the actions of the defendants was not entitled to such fees, as it failed to establish its standing as an injured party, and was dismissed as a party. A second plaintiff association, however, achieved prevailing party status through its settlement agreement, which was judicially enforceable, and was entitled to an award of attorneys' fees. La Asociacion de Trabajadores de Lake Forest v. Lake Forest, #08-56564, 2010 U.S. App. Lexis 21959 (9th Cir.).
     A jury found that an officer used excessive force in detaining a man who was involved in a late night fight outside a tavern. The jury only awarded $1 in nominal damages, however, and no compensatory or punitive damages. A federal appeals court found no inconsistency with the jury's finding that the officer used excessive force and caused injury, as it could have attributed the injury as resulting from the officer's other, lawful actions, and not from his use of excessive force. The court also ruled that an award of attorneys' fees was appropriate, since such an award would encourage the city to make sure that officers do not use excessive force after subduing a suspect. The appeals court therefore reversed the trial court's decision not to award any attorneys' fees. Guy v. City of San Diego, #08-56024, 2010 U.S. App. Lexis 12405 (9th Cir.).
     A federal statute, 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1988, provides for the awarding of a reasonable attorney's fee for the prevailing parties in federal civil rights lawsuits. In this case, concerning alleged problems with the foster care system in Georgia, the plaintiffs sought an award of $14 million in attorneys' fees--half of which was based on a "lodestone," (the number of hours worked by lawyers and their employees, multiplied by prevailing hourly rates in the community), and the other half of which represented a requested fee enhancement for purportedly superior work and results. The trial court, however, awarded fees of $10.3 million, reducing the number of hours because of "vague" billing records, but enhancing the award by 75% for superior work and results. A federal appeals court approved that result. The U.S. Supreme Court reversed, holding that the calculation of an attorneys' fee may be increased due to superior performance, "but only in extraordinary circumstances." The factors to be considered are spelled out by the Court's decision, and the Court held that the trial court in this case failed to adequately justify its 75% fee enhancement. The trial court in such cases must provide a "reasonably specific explanation for all aspects of a fee determination, including any enhancement." Perdue v. Kenny A., #08970, 2010 U.S. Lexis 3481.
     A California Highway Patrol officer shot and killed a man during a struggle while on duty. The decedent had a long history of schizophrenia, accompanied by drug and alcohol abuse. He was unemployed and survived on Social Security benefits and support from his mother. A lawsuit by the man's estate and by his mother resulted in jury awards of $1 each on a federal civil rights excessive force claim and a state law wrongful death claim, based in part on evidence that appeared to refute the officer's assertion that, at the time of the shooting, the decedent had been swinging a flashlight at him. Subsequently, the trial court awarded the plaintiffs $136,687.35 in attorneys' fees. A federal appeals court upheld the attorneys' fee award, based on findings that the legality of the use of deadly force under these circumstances was an important legal issue, even if substantial damages were not awarded, and that the award of attorneys' fees would be likely to deter the officer from similar future unconstitutional conduct. Mahach-Watkins v. Depee, #08-15694, 593 F.3d 1054 (9th Cir. 2010).
     After an organization achieved success in its First Amendment claims against a city, it was awarded $40,691.25 in attorneys' fees and $456 in costs by the trial court. While additional motions were pending in the trial court, the city paid these fees and costs. A federal appeals court has upheld the actions of the trial court in declining to award the plaintiff additional attorneys' fees for time spent on a motion for additional fees, or to award post-judgment interest. The Nationalist Movement v. City of York, #08-1896, 2009 U.S. App. Lexis 17899 (Unpub. 3rd Cir.).
     Despite the fact that police had obtained DNA evidence from a bite mark on a corpse excluding him as the person responsible for a murder of an old woman, he was arrested for the crime, and spent forty-two days in jail with charges pending. In a lawsuit claiming that his incarceration was the result of a state trooper's withholding of the DNA evidence, the plaintiff was awarded $400,000 in damages. A federal appeals court has upheld these damages as supported by the evidence, as well as the trial court's reduction of requested attorneys' fees from $292,463 to $118,882.50 to reflect the plaintiff's lack of success on some claims. Burke v. McDonald, #07-2691, 2009 U.S. App. Lexis 15784 (1st Cir.).
     Plaintiffs who successfully challenged the constitutionality of a city's parade and mass gathering ordinances as violative of the First Amendment were awarded a total of $83,264.78 in attorneys' fees and costs, including $6,000 for their attorneys' work in pursuing the fee request. The plaintiffs prevailed on challenges to five aspects of the ordinances, including bonding and insurance requirements for parades and marches, standing to challenge a 30-day notice requirement, the 30-day notice requirement itself, proper calculation of an administrative fee, and a meet and attempt to agree provision. Their success on some, but not all, of their claims entitled them to 50% of their fee request. Sullivan v. City of Augusta, #CV-04-32, 2009 U.S. Dist. Lexis 48602 (D, Maine).
     After a $20,000 settlement was reached in an arrestee's lawsuit concerning the use of a Taser against him during an arrest, the trial court awarded him $200,000 in attorneys' fees and $15.034.10 in costs. The appeals court found that the trial court failed to explain how it arrived at the number of hours of attorneys' fees awarded or how it arrived at the applicable hourly rate to be paid, making "meaningful review" on appeal "impossible." The plaintiff only prevailed on the excessive force claim, with summary judgment entered against the plaintiff on other claims, including wrongful arrest/detention, and municipal liability. While the appeals court found that all claims in the case were related, it also found that attorneys' fees must be "adjusted downward" when a plaintiff "has obtained limited success" on his claims, and the "result does not confer a meaningful public benefit." The plaintiff, the court noted, received in the settlement roughly one-fourth of the damages in excess of $75,000 sought in his complaint and less than one-tenth of the $251,000 he requested in settlement. The appeals court, therefore, ordered the trial court to reconsider the amount of attorneys' fees and costs to be awarded. McCown v. City of Fontana, No. 07-55896, 550 F.3d 918(9th Cir. 2008).
     After a jury awarded only nominal damages of $1 in a lawsuit claiming violation of a 9-year-old child's rights when she was arrested and handcuffed for threatening a teacher at school, allegedly without probable cause, the trial court awarded $70,532.93 in attorneys' fees. A federal appeals court vacated the award of attorneys' fees, noting that exceptional circumstances must be shown to justify the award of attorneys' fees. It ordered further proceedings by the trial court on whether such circumstances existed, finding no support currently for the award, and ordered that the trial court provide detailed findings if it determined that an attorneys' fee award was required. Gray v. Bostic, #08-15152, 2009 U.S. App. Lexis 7876 (11th Cir.).
     Even if a trial court erred in instructing a jury that officers could have lawfully arrested the plaintiff for actions he took in his front yard, this was a harmless error, since the arrest of the plaintiff was not based on his actions in his front yard, but for allegedly assaulting the officers in his backyard. Claims of unlawful arrest, excessive force, and malicious prosecution were rejected. The trial court properly rejected claims against a mayor and a mayor's assistant, since there was no evidence that they participated in any violation of the arrestee's rights. The plaintiff was properly awarded $20 in damages on his claim that officers engaged in unreasonable search and seizure when they came to his house, accompanied by a police dog, to ticket abandoned vehicles, and properly denied the plaintiff attorneys' fees in light of his limited success on only one of several claims, and the award of nominal damages. Brocuglio v. Proulx, #07-1676, 2009 U.S. App. Lexis 8892 (Unpub. 2nd Cir.)
     A federal appeals court has upheld a $1.5 million award to a man bitten by a police K-9 dog. The court stated that the amount of the award was not "grossly excessive or monstrous." Four officers allegedly allowed the dog to enter the fenced backyard of a house where the man was sleeping outside. The plaintiff was not the suspect the officers sought, but was attacked when the dog saw him. A total of almost $1.1 million in compensatory and punitive damages was awarded to the plaintiff and his wife by a jury, and the trial judge added an award of $516,000 in attorneys' fees and costs. Rogers v. City of Kennewick, #07-35645, 2008 U.S. App. Lexis 27469, 304 Fed. Appx. 599 (Unpub. 9th Cir.).
    In an excessive force civil rights case arising from police officers' firing of seventeen shots into the body of a suspect who was already lying on the ground, killing him, a jury awarded no actual or nominal damages, despite the plaintiff's demand for $500,000 in actual/compensatory damages, but awarded a total of $40,000 in punitive damages. The trial court then declined to award any attorneys' fees under 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1988, A federal appeals court found that the trial court was mistaken in failing to award attorneys' fees, that the plaintiff qualified as a "prevailing" plaintiff, who should ordinarily be awarded attorneys' fees, unless such an award would result in injustice, and ordered further proceedings to determine the proper amount of attorneys' fees to award. Nazario v. Rodriguez, No. 07-2265, 2009 U.S. App. Lexis 2906 (1st Cir.).
      In a case where a jury awarded products liability damages against a manufacturer in a lawsuit over the death of a man subjected to multiple Taser shocks, but rejected claims that police officers used excessive force in deploying Tasers against the decedent, the trial court has also ordered the manufacturer to pay $1.423 million in attorneys' fees to the plaintiffs. The attorneys' fee award was made under the California Private Attorneys General Statute, Calif. Code of Civil Procedure Sec. 1021.5. Heston v. City of Salinas, No. C 05-03658, U.S. Dist. Court for the Northern District of California, San Jose Division (Jan. 30, 2009).
     When an arrestee received only $20,000 in damages in settlement of his excessive force claim, or roughly one-fourth of the amount he originally sought, further proceedings were required to reconsider a trial court award of $200,000 in attorneys' fees and costs. His victory fell "far short" of his goal, so that awarding more than a comparable portion of the requested fees and costs was unreasonable. McCown v. City of Fontana, No. 07-55896, 2008 U.S. App. Lexis 26385 (9th Cir.).
     In a lawsuit against a city and various individuals for wiretapping that violated the privacy and constitutional rights of 64 of 135 plaintiffs, who were city employees and their friends and family, even though only nominal damages were awarded by a jury, the winning plaintiffs were "prevailing" plaintiffs entitled to an award of attorneys' fees because they achieved success in part or in whole on all their claims. No fees, however, could be awarded for work directed at defendants dismissed from the case, and hours were reduced when attorneys failed to keep time records which were "contemporaneous." The plaintiffs received fees and costs totaling $ 539,452.37 including $ 15,619.57 in costs, $ 494,815.25 in attorneys' fees, and $ 29,017.55 in expert witness fees. Walden v. Providence, C.A. No. 04-304A, 2008 U.S. Dist. Lexis 82002 (D.R.I.).
     After the plaintiff was awarded compensatory and punitive damages for the seizure and destruction of his property by the city, allegedly without due process, a trial court found that a quarter to a third of the time spent on research, appeal, and trial preparation, and half of the time spent on investigation was unnecessary, as well as reducing the attorneys' hourly rate to the rate of a paralegal for time spent summarizing depositions, and reducing the attorneys' hourly rate from $300 to $250 per hour. A federal appeals court found that the trial judge failed to adequately explain the reductions made for supposedly duplicative work, or for time spent doing investigation and interviews. The trial court also improperly based part of its reduction on speculation concerning how another law firm would have staffed the case, and applied its own "de facto" policy of awarding $250 per hour in civil rights cases. Further proceedings were ordered on the amount of attorneys' fees to be awarded. Moreno v. City of Sacramento, No. 06-15021, 2008 U.S. App. Lexis 15951 (9th Cir.).
     Protest demonstrators and organizations challenged the constitutionality of a city ordinance regulating expressive activities in public forums, and were granted a preliminary injunction as well as an award of attorneys' fees. The injunction was lifted after the city enacted a revised ordinance resolving the complained of constitutional problems with the original one. On appeal, the court upheld the award of attorneys' fees under 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1988. The plaintiffs were prevailing parties, even though they did not get a final judgment in their favor. The preliminary injunction was sufficient, and the preliminary injunction was not dissolved based on a finding that the plaintiffs were not entitled to it, but rather only after the preliminary injunction had "done its job" by causing the city to pass the revised ordinance. People Against Police Violence v. City of Pittsburgh, No. 06-4457, 2008 U.S. App. Lexis 5644 (3rd Cir.).
     Motorist who was detained for allegedly producing a counterfeit driver's license, but who was released when the authenticity of the license was verified was properly awarded only $400 in damages by a jury in his federal civil rights lawsuit. While the plaintiff was in custody for two to three hours, he was never placed under arrest, and presented no medical evidence of injury. His sole evidence of damages was his wife's testimony that he was humiliated in the community by these events. Under these circumstances, the jury acted reasonably in only awarding him nominal damages, and he was not entitled to a new trial or to an award of attorneys' fees under 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1988. Chen v. City of New York, #28331/02, 2007 N.Y. Misc. Lexis 7145 (Sup. Court. Queens County).
     An arrestee who was awarded $275,000 in damages ($25,000 compensatory and $250,000 in punitive) on claims that he was "framed" and maliciously prosecuted on a firearms charge, and that excessive force was used against him by an officer who shot him in the buttocks, was also entitled to an award of attorneys' fees and costs of $507,000. The defendant city failed to convince a federal appeals court that the trial judge had abused his discretion in refusing to lower the amount of attorneys' fees awarded. The court rejected the city's argument that the plaintiff's success should be viewed as "minimal," requiring a reduction in the attorneys' fees award because the jury award was less than the amount of damages the plaintiff sought. Additionally, the court stated that the plaintiff's success should not simply be viewed in monetary terms. ''He effectively persuaded a jury that a significant number of City of Harvey officials conspired to plant a gun at the crime scene -- a victory that serves the public interest by exposing to light disturbing police malfeasance and grave municipal institutional failures, and one that will presumably help to deter future constitutional violations by the city's officers,'' the court stated. ''These achievements are anything but minimal.'' Robinson v. City of Harvey, No. 04-3993 2007 U.S. App. Lexis 13705 (7th Cir.).
     Evidence supported jury verdict that a series of traffic stops, equipment compliance citations, and a vehicle impoundment were carried out against a California man to unlawfully retaliate against him for his protected free speech activity of complaining about a California Highway Patrol officer to his department. Federal appeals court upholds award of $500,000 in compensatory damages, but rules that punitive damage awards of $4 million were excessive and must be substantially reduced. Plaintiff also receives $800,000 in attorneys' fees. Grassilli v. Barr, No. D044931, 2006 Cal. App. Lexis 1384 (Cal. 4th App. Dist.). [2006 LR Nov]
     Plaintiff in a lawsuit claiming that a police officer was responsible for the homicide of a decedent was entitled to a mistrial and an award of attorneys' fees as a sanction for the defendant city's failure to disclose evidence concerning the case in the possession of the lead detective working on the murder investigation. Estate of Wallace v. City of Los Angeles, No. CV 02-2929, 229 F.R.D. 163 (C.D. Cal. 2005). [N/R]
     Jury properly awarded damages both for deputy sheriffs' excessive use of force against arrestee and for negligence under California state law in injuring him during the arrest while ousting him from an adult bookstore, as well as in reducing the negligence award for the contributory negligence of the arrestee. Prevailing plaintiff's time for filing a motion for an award of attorneys' fees was tolled (extended) pending the outcome of post-trial motions asking for a new trial. Bailey v. County of Riverside, #03-56545, 414 F.3d 1023 (9th Cir. 2005). [N/R]
     Failure to instruct jury that it could impose punitive damages for officer's alleged excessive use of force against an arrestee if he acted in an "oppressive" manner required a new trial on the issue. Federal appeals court also orders recalculation of attorneys' fees award to determine whether hours plaintiff's attorney spent on unsuccessful claims were related to the time spent on the successful excessive force claim which resulted in $18,000 jury award of compensatory damages. Dang v. Cross, No. 03-55403, 2005 U.S. App. Lexis 17981 (9th Cir.). [2005 LR Oct]
     Police officer whose improper application of handcuffs to arrested 16-year-old allegedly caused a 1.3% permanent impairment was not entitled to a directed verdict in an excessive force lawsuit. Plaintiff was properly awarded $153,000 in damages and $51,692.15 in attorneys' fees. Hanig v. Lee, No. 04-2758, 2005 U.S. App. Lexis 14436 (8th Cir.). [2005 LR Sep]
    Arrestee who had settled wrongful arrest and search lawsuit for $100,000 after claiming $1 million in damages and being awarded only $18,908.50 by a jury, was properly awarded $126,786.50 in attorneys' fees, a substantial reduction in the amount of fees requested. The reduction was proper in light of the plaintiff only achieving partial success--approximately one-tenth of what he hoped to recover, and the fact that the case was "not particularly significant" and did not "directly enhance any particular public purpose." Hatcher v. Consolidated City of Indianapolis, No. 03-4280, 126 Fed. Appx. 325 (7th Cir. 2005). [N/R]
    Federal trial court abused its discretion in awarding $23,114.14 in attorneys' fees to two plaintiffs as prevailing parties even though their federal civil rights lawsuit was dismissed with prejudice. The fact that they obtained released from their multi-year prison sentences through post-conviction filings in state court did not alter the result, as the so-called "catalyst" theory is no longer viable as a basis for awards of attorneys' fees in federal civil rights cases. Baily v. State of Mississippi, 2005 U.S. App. Lexis 6794 (5th Cir.). [2005 LR Jun]
     Prisoner who was awarded $1 in nominal damages in federal civil rights lawsuit against off-duty police officer who allegedly violated his Fourth Amendment rights by using excessive force in smashing the window of his car with a baton during confrontation prior to his incarceration was properly also awarded $9,680 in attorneys' fees and $915.16 in expenses by trial court. Federal appeals court rules that provision of the Prison Litigation Reform Act's which limits attorneys' fee awards in prisoner suits to 150% of the money judgment, 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1997e(d), did not apply to civil rights claims that arose before the prisoner was incarcerated. Robbins v. Chronister, No. 02-3115, 402 F.3d 1047 (10th Cir. 2005). [N/R]
     Release of information about parents suspected of child abuse, but later exonerated, did not constitute libel under Nevada law when release was limited to a state registry for substantiated cases of abuse and neglect, since such a release and publication of the information was privileged. Neason v. Clark County, Nevada, No. CV-S-02-1110, 352 F. Supp. 2d 1133 (D. Nev. 2005). [N/R]
     Wheelchair bound woman failed to show that city police engaged in intentional disability discrimination in stopping her or arresting her for riding her wheelchair in the street, even though she did show that the city violated federal accessibility requirements in failing to provide proper curb cuts on the streets. She was not entitled to an award of attorneys' fees as a "prevailing party," because she failed to obtain any specific relief from the trial court. Dillery v. City of Sandusky, No. 03-3465, 2005 U.S. App. Lexis 2882 (6th Cir.). [2005 LR Apr]
     Adult nightclub seeking to feature nude or semi-nude dancers was a "prevailing party" entitled to an award of $49,175 in attorneys' fees despite the fact that their civil rights lawsuit against a restrictive zoning ordinance was dismissed as moot after the defendant county repealed the challenged restriction. Federal appeals court notes that the repeal came only after the trial court had already ruled on the merits of the challenge, and that the trial court only delayed entering a final order to allow the county a continuance to make the change to the law. Palmetto Properties, Inc. v. County of DuPage, No. 03-2174, 2004 U.S. App. Lexis 13952 (7th Cir.). [2004 LR Sep]
     Plaintiff who was awarded $10,000 in damages against one officer for alleged excessive use of force against him at his apartment was entitled to an attorneys' fee award as a "prevailing party," even though he would not receive any of the $10,000 award because he had previously entered into a $25,000 settlement with other defendants in the case, which fully compensated him for damages in excess of those the jury found occurred. Concession by plaintiff's attorney that the jury's award was to be set-off by the prior settlement did not deprive the plaintiff of "prevailing party" status. Attorneys' fees and expenses of $10,572.74 were therefore awarded. Baim v. Notto, 316 F. Supp. 2d 113 (N.D.N.Y. 2003). [N/R]
     Federal appeals court overturns $288,000 attorneys' fee award against police officer who settled a false arrest claim for $10,000 rather than undergo a new trial on damages following a jury award of $1 in nominal damages. Because the result achieved was a private settlement, rather than a court judgment, the plaintiff was not a prevailing party entitled to any attorneys' fee award at all. Petersen v. Gibson, No. 02-4271, 2004 U.S. App. Lexis 11735 (7th Cir. 2004). [2004 LR Aug]
     Motorist shot by police officer after car chase, who was awarded $250,000 on his excessive force claim, was also entitled to an award of $95,836.65 for legal fees and $11,758.40 for costs, for a total of $107,595.05. Court rules that time attorney spent investigating the pursuit route and the scene of the shooting was compensable as part of attorneys' fee award, that the cost of hotel expenses for an out-of-state lawyer were not recoverable without an explanation for why it was necessary to hire an out-of-state lawyer. Reduction in requested fees was required based on plaintiff only prevailing against one of four defendants and on only two of fourteen claims originally asserted. Parker v. Town of Swansea, 310 F. Supp. 2d 376 (D. Mass. 2004). [N/R]
     Trial court properly reduced, by 20%, attorneys' fees to be awarded to plaintiff arrestee who prevailed against one officer on false arrest and abuse of process claims and was awarded $50,000 in compensatory and $8,508 in punitive damages. Reduction was justified by the fact that no evidence supported other claims which the plaintiff voluntarily withdrew one week prior to trial, and that the jury returned a verdict against the plaintiff on claims for malicious prosecution and battery. Green v. Torres, No. 02-7658, 361 F. 3d 96 (2nd Cir. 2004). [N/R]
     Federal appeals court finds that plaintiff who was awarded $87,000 in damages for alleged battery by two police officers at veterans' hospital was improperly also awarded $49,000 in attorneys' fees. While evidence showed, for purposes of award under Federal Tort Claims Act, that officers acted "wantonly," the U.S. government did not act "wantonly" in presenting a defense against the plaintiff's claims. Stive v. U.S., No. 03-2151, 2004 U.S. App. Lexis 8346 (7th Cir.). [2004 LR Jun]
      Arrestee who was awarded $1 in nominal damages on his claim that a police officer improperly arrested him for exercising his freedom of speech in putting him under arrest for disorderly conduct after he shouted at the officer for refusing to move his illegally parked personal vehicle was a prevailing party entitled to an award of attorneys' fees under Massachusetts state statute. Trial court awarded $45,451.36 as reasonable attorneys' fees and expenses. Norris v. Murphy, 287 F. Supp. 2d 111 (D. Mass. 2003). [N/R]
     Plaintiff who received $25,000 settlement from city on excessive force claim was a prevailing party entitled to an award of attorneys' fees after trial court incorporated settlement agreement into its dismissal order, but, under terms of settlement agreement, defendant city was entitled to an evidentiary hearing on the merits of the plaintiff's underlying claims prior to the determination of a reasonable amount of an attorneys' fee award. Smalbein v. City of Daytona Beach, No. 03-12113, 353 F.3d 901 (11th Cir. 2003). [2004 LR Mar]
     Arrestee awarded $5,000 on excessive force claim, $5,200 for severe emotional distress, and $25,000 in punitive damages, as well as pre-judgment interest of $31,031 was a prevailing party in his lawsuit against arresting officer, and therefore, rejection of his motion for attorneys' fees was improper in the absence of any special circumstances justifying a complete denial of such fees. Further proceedings ordered by federal appeals court. Poy v. Boutselis, No. 03-1201, 352 F.3d 479 (1st Cir. 2003). [N/R]
     Trial court did not abuse its discretion in enhancing an award of attorneys' fees by a 1.5 multiplier when the prevailing plaintiff's federal civil rights lawsuit was "particularly undesirable" for an attorney, as shown by the plaintiff's difficulty in obtaining legal representation and the consequent need for the trial court to appoint a lawyer. Oberfelder v. Bertoll, #01-17302, 67 Fed. Appx. 408 (9th Cir. 2003). [N/R]
     Two arrestees who obtained $8,000 settlement from officer and city after prevailing at trial on their excessive force claims are awarded a total of $25,071.64 in attorneys' fees and expenses, rather than the $77,935.74 they requested. Trial court reduces the number of compensable hours for each of the plaintiffs' attorneys by 50% due to their failure to provide "sufficiently detailed contemporaneous time records, and court also reduces appropriate hourly rates for chief counsel from $350 to $225, for a junior associate attorney from $200 to $120, and for law students from $90 to $60. Martinez v. Hodgson, 265 F. Supp. 2d 135 (D. Mass. 2003). [N/R]
     Arrestee who was awarded $80,000 in jury verdict for city's prosecution of him for obstruction of justice without probable cause was properly awarded attorneys' fees, but trial court applied the wrong legal standard in reducing the award of attorneys' fees to $95,507 based on the hours attorneys spent on plaintiff's unsuccessful claims. Webb v. Sloan, No. 01-16855, 330 F.3d 1158 (9th Cir. 2003). [2003 LR Sep]
     Prevailing plaintiffs in federal civil rights lawsuit over alleged illegal search and seizure were entitled to an award of the attorneys' fees they incurred in obtaining the dismissal of criminal charges against them arising out of the search, since the dismissal of those charges was necessary under Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994), prior to pursuing a successful civil rights action which necessarily implied the invalidity of the criminal prosecution. A total of $86, 794.20 was awarded in attorneys' fees, which included some fees for legal services in defending against the criminal charges. Rosas v. County of San Bernardino, 2260 F. Supp. 2d 990 (C.D. Cal. 2003). [N/R]
     Federal appeals court upholds award of $1 in nominal damages and $7,428 in attorneys' fees against city which allegedly took no action and began no investigation of woman's complaints to police chief and mayor that a police officer with whom she had broken off an affair was harassing her and stalking her while on the job and in uniform. Attorneys' fee award, court states, should put police departments and cities "on notice" that they cannot simply ignore such complaints. Murray v. City of Onawa, Iowa, No. 02-2626, 323 F.3d 616 (8th Cir. 2003). [2003 LR Jul]
     Federal trial judge abused his discretion by issuing a ruling on an attorneys' fee petition in a settled civil rights lawsuit over wrongful arrest and illegal search of a residence, since the settlement agreement provided that the issue of attorneys' fees would be decided through mediation and resolution under the guidance of a magistrate judge. Settlement provided for a $100,000 payment to the plaintiff, and trial judge reduced plaintiff's attorneys' fees request by 70% from $291,358.75 to $87,407.62, along with granting $18,707.31 in costs. Hatcher v. Consolidated City of Indianapolis, No. 01-3550, 323 F.3d 513 (7th Cir. 2003). [N/R]
     Arrestee who was awarded $2 in damages by a jury on his claim for violation of his First Amendment rights based on his arrest while he was protesting on the steps of city hall was not entitled to attorneys' fees, particularly when he previously declined two separate offers of judgment from defendant officers, requested $10,000 in damages, and lost his claim against the municipality and his claim for punitive damages. Pouillon v. Little, No. 01-1619, 326 F.3d 713 (6th Cir. 2003). [N/R]
     Federal government was liable for attorneys' fees of journalist requesting FBI documents relating to deceased civil rights activist when the government sought a protective order, failing to first consult with the requester and make a good faith attempt to resolve the discovery dispute before seeking intervention by the court. Campbell v. U.S. Dept. of Justice, 231 F. Supp. 2d 1 (D.D.C. 2002). [N/R]
     Prevailing party in original federal civil rights lawsuit may, in the discretion of the trial court, be awarded attorneys' fees under 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1988 for defending its consent decree from a collateral attack brought by a third party in a subsequent action, including fees for work reasonably spent to monitor and enforce compliance with the decree, even as to matters on which it did not prevail. In this case, however, trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying fees. This case did not involve law enforcement defendants, but the reasoning could apply in a case that did. San Francisco NAACP v. San Francisco Unified School District, #00-16864, 284 F.3d 1163 (9th Cir. 2002). [N/R]
     Wife of man shot and killed by police officer who received a jury award of $111,000 subsequently reduced in $25,000 in federal civil rights lawsuit is awarded $111,836.25 in attorneys' fees and $7,109.99 in costs. She was not entitled to attorneys' fees for post-judgment motions and appeal when she did not prevail in those efforts. Tinch v. City of Dayton, 199 F. Supp. 2d 758 (S.D. Ohio 2002).
[2002 LR Sep]
     Detainee was not a prevailing party entitled to an award of attorneys' fees in his federal civil rights lawsuit seeking the return of documents seized from him by officers during a traffic stop despite the fact that the defendants agreed to return photocopies of some of the documents. The court did not rule on any of the plaintiff's claims and the return of the photocopies did not prevent the city from using the documents to investigate and charge the plaintiff with credit card fraud. Richardson v. Miller, #01-1309, 279 F.3d 1 (1st Cir. 2002). [2002 LR May]
     Two arrestees awarded $501 and $1 in damages in their false arrest/excessive force lawsuit against the arresting officer are awarded $21,009.22 in attorneys' fees and $1,029 in costs by trial court as prevailing plaintiffs. Okot v. Conicelli, 180 F. Supp. 2d 238 (D. Maine 2002). [2002 LR May]
     A jury's rejection of the plaintiff's federal civil rights lawsuit precluded the award of attorneys' fees under 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1988 even though he won his state law claim for battery against a deputy sheriff and was awarded $35,000 in damages. McFadden v. Villa, No. E028151, 113 Cal. Rptr. 2d 80 (Cal. App. 2001). [N/R]
     345:131 Washington state Supreme Court upholds award of attorneys' fees to plaintiff who was awarded only $1 in damages by a jury that found that an officer subjected him to excessive force following a high-speed pursuit. Ermine v. City of Spokane, No. 69680-2, 23 P.3d 492 (Wash. 2001).
     344:115 U.S. Supreme Court rejects "catalyst theory" for the award of attorneys' fees in federal lawsuits; a plaintiff, in order to be entitled to an attorneys' fee award must receive a court judgment on the merits or a court- ordered consent decree; a voluntary change in the behavior of the defendant will not suffice. Buckhannon Board and Care Home, Inc. v. West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, No. 99-1848, 121 S. Ct. 1835 (2001).
     344:117 Vehicle passenger who negotiated the return of some of his personal papers seized by an officer during a vehicle stop was not a "prevailing party" in his federal civil rights lawsuit when there was no settlement on the constitutional claims concerning the legality of the search and seizure; standard for award of attorneys' fees was the same under Massachusetts state law as it was under federal statute. Richardson v. City of Boston, 135 F. Supp. 2d 60 (D. Mass. 2001).
     343:100 Under state statute, city had to indemnify officers for $234,671.56 in damages awarded against them in federal civil rights lawsuit, but indemnification statute did not require city to pay an award of $191,628.75 in attorneys' fees, Illinois Supreme Court rules. Yang v. City of Chicago, No. 88656, 745 N.E.2d 541 (Ill. 2001).
     331:99 Washington state intermediate appeals court rules that it was not an abuse of discretion to award $9,920 in attorneys' fees to plaintiff in excessive force claim who was awarded only $1 in nominal damages. Ermine v. City of Spokane, #18253-3-III, 996 P.2d 624 (Wash. App. 2000).
     335:163 Plaintiffs who were awarded $250,000 in compensatory damages for an officer's shooting and killing of a motorist were also properly awarded $297,645 in attorneys' fees and $13,642.40 in costs; trial court did not abuse its discretion by awarding attorneys fees to plaintiffs who retained several attorneys to work on the case. Laudano v. City of New Haven, #No. 18498, 755 A.2d 907 (Conn. App. 2000).
     328:53 Judgment in first jury trial of $2 against an arresting officer, rather than judgment in second jury trial of $2,150 against the city (and $67,000 in attorneys' fees) would be enforced when trial court never explicitly granted a motion for a new trial; plaintiffs were arrested for violating a city ordinance against residential picketing. Copper v. City of Fargo, No. 98-2144, 98-2416, 184 F.3d 994 (8th Cir. 1999).
     323:164 Female motorist against whom criminal charges were dropped was a prevailing party based on $57,500 settlement despite dismissal of many of her claims; plaintiff was properly awarded $119,781.25 in attorneys' fees and $120 in court costs. Ingram v. Jones, 46 F.Supp. 2d 795 (N.D. Ill. 1999).
     323:163 Officer was not entitled to qualified immunity in lawsuit claiming that he pushed a man through a car window; officer did not claim that man used any force against him; attorneys' fee award based on $200 per hour was appropriate. Weyel v. Catania, 728 A.2d 512 (Conn. App. 1999).
     322:148 Arrestee awarded $30,000 in damages against officer for false arrest and intentional infliction of emotional distress was also entitled to $193,361.25 in attorneys' fees and $3,987.20 in costs, despite contingent fee agreement limiting attorneys' fees to 40% of award; $3,000 in sanctions imposed against officer for failure to reveal additional citizen complaints against him in discovery process; plaintiff did not improperly strike males from the jury, since "gender-neutral" reasons were given. Gaytan v. Kapus, 181 F.R.D. 573 (N.D. Ill. 1998).
     317:69 Trial court erred in categorically denying prevailing plaintiff attorneys' fees incurred in unsuccessfully arguing, on appeal and in the U.S. Supreme Court, against the recognition of an evidentiary privilege that would protect notes of police officer's therapy sessions with licensed social worker, even if such arguments did not "contribute" to success. Jaffee v. Redmond, #97-2447, 142 F.3d 409 (7th Cir. 1998).
     315:37 Plaintiffs in federal civil rights lawsuits over alleged excessive force by police who accepted settlement offers amounting to mere "nuisance-value" were not "prevailing parties" entitled to awards of reasonable attorneys' fees under 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1988. Fletcher v. City of Fort Wayne, #98-1969, 162 F.3d 975 (7th Cir. 1998).
     313:4 Plaintiff was entitled to award of attorneys' fees and costs of $98,774 despite accepting settlement offer of $50,000, when settlement offer failed to specify whether fees and costs were included in amount. Webb v. James, #97-2287 & 97-2574 147 F.3d 617 (7th Cir. 1998).
     302:19 Trial judge erred in denying attorneys' fees to prevailing plaintiffs awarded $75,000 in damages against officer and city in federal civil rights claim; judge's belief that jury was overly generous could not be a basis for the denial of attorneys' fees. Moore v. City of Park Hills, 945 S.W.2d 1 (Mo. App. 1997).
     305:74 Arrestee entitled to $50,000 in damages and $89,888.17 in attorneys' fees and costs in malicious prosecution case brought over criminal charges dropped for failure to bring them to speedy trial. Murphy v. Lynn, 118 F.3d 938 (2nd Cir. 1997).
     306:84 Plaintiff was properly awarded $7,500 in attorneys' fees in lawsuit in which he was awarded $5,429.66 on state law battery claim against county, but denied any recovery on federal civil rights claim; award of attorneys' fees authorized under federal civil rights statute under these circumstances as long as state law claim arose from the same incident. Prior v. County of Saratoga, 664 N.Y.S.2d 871 (A.D. 1997).
     306:92 Officer conducted illegal search of inside of vehicle when he had not arrested motorist or taken custody of her vehicle and did not have any reason to suspect that weapons were in vehicle or that motorist was dangerous; appeals court upholds award of $1 in nominal damages and 33 cents in attorneys' fees; officer waived qualified immunity defense by not pursuing it at trial. McCardle v. Haddad, 131 F.3d 43 (2nd Cir. 1997).
     308:118 Bicycle messenger, awarded $275 in compensatory and $1 in punitive damages on claim that officer assaulted him, was entitled to award of "reasonable" attorneys' fees, which did not have to be proportional to the amount of damages awarded. Logan v. Marks, 704 A.2d 671 (Pa. Super. 1997).
     293:67 Federal court awards plaintiff $162,20950 in attorneys' fees and court costs in lawsuit over alleged excessive force by deputy who admitted kicking him in the groin while he was handcuffed, despite award of only $500 in compensatory and $10,000 in punitive damages; judge notes that evidence "revealed" that county had tacitly condoned excessive use of force Duckworth v. Whisenant, 97 F.3d 1393 (11th Cir. 1996).
     295:99 Trial court erred in awarding only "token" attorneys' fees of $2,500 in case where media plaintiffs obtained nominal damages and injunction against police department media guidelines for press conduct at scene of anti-abortion demonstrations; Nominal damages did not make plaintiffs' success a mere "technical" victory in light of injunction obtained Riley v. City of Jackson, Miss, 99 F.3d 757 (5th Cir. 1996).
     296:115 Plaintiff who accepted $7,500 settlement in federal civil rights lawsuit where she initially demanded $80,000 and rejected $10,000 settlement offer was not a prevailing party and was not entitled to any award of attorneys' fees when case was merely settled for its "nuisance value" Fisher v. Kelly, 105 F.3d 350 (7th Cir. 1997).
     297:133 Award of $80,64929 in attorneys' fees and costs under Massachusetts state statute was "reasonable," despite fact that plaintiff was only awarded $1,500 against police lieutenant for violation of state civil rights of arrestee, but federal appeals court vacates award for consideration of whether amount should be reduced to reflect fact that plaintiff was unsuccessful on many other claims asserted in lawsuit Krewsom v. City of Quincy, 74 F.3d 15 (1st Cir. 1996).
     298:149 Federal appeals court upholds award of attorneys' fees and costs of $80,64929 in case where jury awarded $6,500 in damages against police detective; award appropriately included attorney time spent on unsuccessful claims and expert witness testimony related solely to unsuccessful claims regarding wrongful arrest when plausibility of these claims helped establish detective's alleged motive for threat against plaintiff which was the basis for the successful claim Krewson v. Finn, 107 F.3d 84 (1st Cir. 1997).
     {N/R} Trial court properly denied award of attorneys' fees to plaintiffs who sought $75,000 in compensatory damages and significant punitive damages, but were only awarded $4 in nominal damages, and no other relief was obtained Briggs v. Marshall, 93 F.3d 355 (7th Cir. 1996).
     265:3 Plaintiffs awarded $250 in damages for warrantless search of two-year-old child also awarded $34,61281 in attorneys' fees and costs despite failure to prevail on some claims; trial court rules that importance of plaintiff's success could not be measured solely by size of damage award Franz v. Lytle, 854 F.Supp. 753 (D.Kan 1994).
     268:52 Trial judge awards Rodney King $16 million in attorneys' fees against city, disallowing portions of attorneys' fee request which included fees for time spent appearing on television talk shows, accompanying plaintiff to the movies, and going to the plaintiffs' birthday party King v. City of Los Angeles, U.S. Dist. Ct., Los Angeles, Cal, Jan 13, 1995, Chicago Tribune, p. 19, Jan 19, 1995
     268:52 Civil rights plaintiff who sought $5 million in damages for alleged beating by five deputy sheriffs and was awarded only $25,000 in damages against one deputy was properly awarded $43,79065 in attorneys' fees rather than his requested $120,81940, federal appeals court rules, based on his limited success Harris v. Marhoefer, 24 F.3d 16 (9th Cir. 1994).
     269:68 Trial judge did not abuse his discretion in awarding no attorneys' fees to prevailing plaintiff in federal civil rights case who was awarded a total of only $2 in damages Cramblit v. Fikse, 33 F.3d 633 (6th Cir. 1994).
     270:85 Federal appeals court upholds award of $66,535 in attorneys' fees to plaintiff awarded only $1 in damages against city for punch by officer; plaintiff achieved overall success, court rules, because suit helped change city's use of force policy and also led to disciplinary action against officer Wilcox v. Reno, 42 F.3d 550 (9th Cir. 1994).
     271:100 Arrestee was not entitled to an award of attorneys' fees under federal statute when jury found against him on his federal civil rights claim against the city, even though he was awarded damages on his state law excessive force claim arising out of the same incident Hicks v. City of Westbrook, 649 A.2d 329 (Me 1994).
     271:100 Nightclub owner awarded $1 in damages in federal civil rights suit was not entitled to an award of attorneys' fees Hamilton v. Lokuta, 871 F.Supp. 314 (E.D. Mich 1994).
     272:115 Federal appeals court overturns trial judge's award to prevailing plaintiff of substantially all his requested attorneys' fees when record reflected possibility that trial judge had not "critically" examined these requests Lunday v. City of Albany, 42 F.3d 131 (2nd Cir. 1994).
     273:133 Married couple who were awarded $2 in damages in lawsuit against county and deputies for warrantless entry into their home in response to domestic disturbance call were not entitled to any award of attorneys' fees, federal appeals court rules Romberg v. Nichols, 48 F.3d 453 (9th Cir. 1995).
     273:135 Having a jury determine whether officer was entitled to qualified immunity in case where it was alleged that he warned and cited plaintiff because of his political beliefs was "proper," or at worst "harmless," federal appeals court rules; $35,350 jury award against officer upheld, but award against city overturned in absence of evidence of municipal policy or custom; $55,000 attorneys' fee award ordered reconsidered Sloman v. Tadlock, 21 F.3d 1462 (9th Cir. 1994).
     274:148 Jury awards $151,000 in damages to man allegedly beaten in his home by officers responding to complaint about domestic disturbance; trial judge awards $76,300 in attorneys' fees Malloy v. City & County of Denver, U.S. Dist. Ct., D Colo, No 91 N 2136, Aug 8, 1994, reported in 38 ATLA L. Rep.No 2, p. 48 (March 1995).
     Prevailing plaintiff was only entitled to recover reasonable attorneys' fees and costs incurred up to the time of rejection of settlement offer when the amount of the ultimate award to him was less than the amount of the offer Strauss v. Springer, 817 F.Supp. 1237 (E.D. Pa 1993).
     Rapist awarded $49,000 in attorneys' fees, as well as $11,000 in damages against arresting officers who beat him; federal appeals court rules, however, that $11,000 awarded should go towards satisfying $80,000 assault and battery judgment against rapist Curtis v. City of Des Moines, 995 F.2d 125 (8th Cir. 1993).
     Plaintiff granted directed verdict in false arrest/civil rights lawsuit, but who jury declined to award any damages, was not entitled to an award of attorneys' fees as a prevailing plaintiff Davet v. Maccarone, 816 F.Supp. 95 (DRI 1993).
     Plaintiffs who only prevailed on two of their multiple claims against a city and were awarded $2,500 in damages were entitled only to $11,800 in attorneys' fees, rather than the $150,000 attorneys' fee awarded requested; "low degree of success" justified reduction of fee request McKevitt v. City of Meriden, 822 F.Supp. 78 (D.Conn 1993).
     Prevailing plaintiff who was awarded $14500 in damages in false arrest/excessive force lawsuit was also entitled to $24,892 in attorneys' fees and costs; federal appeals court rejects defendant officers' argument that plaintiff was barred, under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 68, from receiving fees and costs incurred after they made a pre-trial offer of $20,000 including fees and costs because jury only awarded $14,500 Marryshow v. Flynn, 986 F.2d 689 (4th Cir. 1993).
     Prevailing plaintiffs in malicious prosecution civil rights lawsuit awarded $156,68167 in attorneys' fees, costs and expenses, rather than requested $432,070; attorney hours spent on other, unsuccessful claims were not compensable, and trial court did not abuse its discretion in reducing allowable hours by 50%, due to duplicative effort and use of more attorneys than required Goodwin v. Metts, 975 F.2d 378 (4th Cir. 1992).
     Prevailing plaintiffs in malicious prosecution civil rights lawsuit awarded $156,68167 in attorneys' fees, costs and expenses, rather than requested $432,070; attorney hours spent on other, unsuccessful claims were not compensable, and trial court did not abuse its discretion in reducing allowable hours by 50%, due to duplicative effort and use of more attorneys than required Goodwin v. Metts, 975 F.2d 378 (4th Cir. 1992).
     Plaintiff's statutory right to collect attorneys' fees if they prevailed in their civil rights suit against officers could not be assigned to their attorney; purported assignment would violate policy of encouraging settlement of suits by making attorney an additional party to the suit Darby v. City of Torrance, 810 F.Supp. 271 (CD Cal 1992).
     Officers and former police chief liable for $378,175 in attorneys' fees in excessive force claim brought by robber and surviving families of three dead robbers shot by officers as they attempted to escape; "undesirability" of the lawsuit because it involved "undeniable wrongdoers" as plaintiffs justified enhancement of fee award Gomez v. Gates, 804 F.Supp. 69 (CD Cal 1992).
     Federal appeals court overturns 100% enhancement of attorneys' fee award to prevailing plaintiffs in civil rights case; contingency nature of arrangement with attorneys was an insufficient basis for enhancement Wolfel v. Morris, 972 F.2d 712 (6th Cir. 1992).
     Two plaintiffs awarded $10,34320 on some, but not all, of their claims against two police officers awarded $43,750 in attorneys' fees; they did not need to prevail on all claims to be prevailing parties for purposes of attorneys' fee award Bagsby v. St Louis Bd of Police Com'rs, 783 F.Supp. 1214 (E.D. Mo 1992).
     Plaintiff's awarded only $1 in nominal damages in federal civil rights lawsuit where prevailing parties entitled to $5,000 award of attorneys' fees Romberg v. Nichols, 953 F.2d 1152 (9th Cir. 1992).
     Alabama Supreme Court overturns trial court decision denying plaintiffs' motion for $30,600 in attorneys' fees after they were awarded $1,000 in damages in general verdict on civil rights and false arrest claims Lowery v. Thomas, 575 So.2d 1030 (Ala 1991).
     Plaintiff awarded $150,000 for suicide of pretrial detainee, $152,284 for trial court attorneys' fees, and $48,576 for appeals attorneys' fees was also entitled to attorneys fees expended in opposing defendant's two petitions seeking review by the U.S. Supreme Court, even though one of them was granted Cabrales v. County of Los Angeles, 935 F.2d 1050 (9th Cir. 1991).
     Trial court abused its discretion in denying an award of attorneys' fees to plaintiffs who were awarded $24,000 in damages on false arrest and civil rights claims against city and officer Giarrusso v. City of Albany, 571 N.Y.S.2d 141 (A.D. 1991).
     Plaintiff in wrongful arrest civil rights case ordered to pay defendant law enforcement officers $118,37588 in attorneys' fees and costs of defense against merit less suit Tufaro v. Willie, 756 F.Supp. 556 (S.D.Fla 1991).
     Award of $3,000 in attorneys' fees to plaintiff awarded no damages was proper; plaintiff achieved limited success Garner v. Limbocker, 770 S.W.2d 673 (Ark App. 1989).

Back to list of subjects             Back to Legal Publications Menu