January 9, 2018
from the United States District Court for the Northern
District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 15 cv 8032 -
Sharon Johnson Coleman, Judge.
Flaum, Kanne, and Rovner, Circuit Judges.
McLaughlin represented Dustan Dobbs in a products liability
suit against DePuy Orthopaedics. After DePuy offered to
settle the suit, but a few months before Dobbs accepted that
offer, Dobbs terminated the representation contract and
removed McLaughlin as counsel. Now, McLaughlin seeks
attorneys' fees in quantum meruit for the
services he and his cocounsel, Anthony Argeros, rendered in
Dobbs's case. He brought this action on his own behalf,
on behalf of his employer at the time he took Dobbs's
case, and on behalf of Anthony Argeros's estate.
previous appeal, we vacated a fee award to McLaughlin because
the district court did not adequately address all the
requisite quantum meruit factors. On remand, the
district court evaluated each factor and awarded McLaughlin
$87, 500. For the reasons that follow, we affirm that award.
August 2012, Dustan Dobbs hired George McLaughlin (who was at
that time employed at John Gelhausen, P.C .) and Anthony
Argeros to represent him in a products liability suit against
DePuy. The attorneys took Dobbs's case on a 35%
contingency fee agreement. Two days after retention,
McLaughlin and Argeros filed Dobbs's complaint in the
DePuy ASR Hip Implant Multidistrict Litigation in the
Northern District of Ohio.
later, DePuy proposed a settlement, offering parties
represented by counsel on a certain date $250, 000 and
parties not represented on that date $177, 500. Dobbs told
his attorneys that he wanted to receive information about the
settlement but didn't want to actually settle. McLaughlin
advised Dobbs to accept the settlement due to the costs of
going to trial. Frustrated because he felt McLaughlin was
trying to force him to settle his case, Dobbs filed a motion
to remove McLaughlin as his counsel on October 17,
2014. McLaughlin moved to withdraw on December
30, 2014, which was granted on January 8, 2015, leaving Dobbs
in February 2015, Dobbs ultimately decided to accept the
settlement offer. Though he was unrepresented at the time
that he accepted the settlement, he was considered a
represented party under the settlement terms, entitling him
to a base award of $250, 000.
Dobbs terminated his contract with McLaughlin before
accepting the settlement, McLaughlin could not re- cover
under the contingency fee agreement. So McLaughlin asserted a
lien on Dobbs's settlement award and sought
attorneys' fees under quantum meruit. The fee
dispute was transferred from the multidistrict
litigation's venue to the Northern District of Illinois.
There, the district court awarded McLaughlin 35% of
Dobbs's base settlement award, or $87, 500. Dobbs
December 2016, we held that the district court abused its
discretion in granting McLaughlin $87, 500 because the court
did not adequately address the necessary quantum
meruit factors. We made clear, though, that our decision
did not address the substantive reasonableness of the award:
the court could award the same sum on remand so long as it
adequately addressed the requisite factors.
remand, the district court considered evidence from the
parties, addressed each quantum meruit factor, and
again awarded McLaughlin $87, 500. Dobbs appeals this second
decision, and we review it again for an abuse of discretion.
See Dobbs v. DePuy Orthopedics, Inc., 842 F.3d 1045,
1048, 1050 (7th Cir. 2016) (noting that, because the district
court that awarded the attorneys' fees was not the same
court that presided over the relevant litigation, the abuse
of discretion standard re- quired the district court that
awarded the attorneys' fees to engage in an adequate
discussion of the relevant factors).