United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin
THE ESTATE OF LALIAH SWAYZER, SHADE SWAYZER, DIANE RUFFIN, and CHARLENE RUFFIN, Plaintiffs,
ARMOR CORRECTIONAL SERVICES, INC., KIMBERLY WITKOWIAK, KEZIAH LOVE, TERINA CUNNINGHAM, JEFF ANDRYKOWSKI, WISCONSIN COUNTY MUTUAL INSURANCE CORP., DR. MAUREEN WHITE, DR. KAREN RONQUILLO-HORTON, NP KATHERINE MEINE, DR. GINA NEGRETTE, RN FREDERICK PORLUCAS, DR. TURAY GULSEN, WISCONSIN HEALTH CARE LIABILITY INSURANCE PLAN, AMIKA AVERY, DIEDRE ADAMS, and STEVEN SCHMID, Defendants.
ORDER AWARDING COSTS IN CONNECTION WITH ORDER
PARTIALLY GRANTING MOTION FOR SANCTIONS (DKT. NO.
Pamela Pepper Chief United States District Judge.
October 17, 2017, the County Defendants filed a motion for
sanctions against plaintiffs' counsel James Gende for
conduct that occurred during the deposition of defendant
Terina Cunningham. Dkt. No. 69. The same day, defendant Armor
filed a motion asking the court to stay depositions and issue
an order protecting witnesses; this motion again was based on
Attorney Gende's conduct at the Cunningham deposition.
Dkt. No. 72. On November 29, 2017, the court conducted a
hearing on these motions. Dkt. No. 111. It agreed to impose
sanctions against Gende, to the extent that it terminated Ms.
Cunningham's deposition and agreed to impose costs.
Id. It directed the defendants to submit a joint
bill of costs by December 22, 2017 and allowed Attorney Gende
to respond by January 10, 2018. Id.
defendants filed their joint bill of costs on December 22,
2017, dkt. no. 120; the plaintiffs filed their opposition on
January 10, 2018, dkt. no. 142; counsel for Armor filed a
supplemental declaration on January 16, 2018, dkt. no. 144;
counsel for the County Defendants filed a supplemental
declaration on January 18, 2018, dkt. no. 145; and on March
5, 2018, counsel for Armor filed yet another supplemental
declaration, dkt. no. 179.
reasons wholly attributable to the court-indeed, to the
undersigned judge-the court did not timely rule on the bill
of costs. Not even remotely timely. In fact, counsel for the
County Defendants had to gently remind the court at a hearing
on December 5, 2019 that the issue remained unresolved. Dkt.
No. 488. Several days later, counsel for Armor filed a
letter, informing the court that Armor no longer was seeking
an award of fees and costs regarding the incident at the
deposition. Dkt. No. 478.
County Defendants submitted their bill of costs and a
declaration from counsel by the deadline the court set. Dkt.
Nos. 122, 122-1. The plaintiffs objected, arguing that
counsel's declaration did not list the number of hours
worked, the hourly rate charged, billing invoices,
information about the normal billing rate in the community
and other information one would expect to see in a
declaration in support of an award of fees and costs. Dkt.
No. 142. They also argued that it would not be fair to allow
the County Defendants to supplement the declaration, because
they would have no ability to respond to a supplement.
Id. at 9. The County Defendants nonetheless
submitted a supplemental declaration that addressed all the
criticisms in the plaintiffs' objection. Dkt. No. 145.
court disagrees that allowing the County Defendants to
supplement is unfair. If the plaintiffs felt that the
supplemental information was insufficient, they could have
asked leave to file a sur-reply, given that the supplement
contained new information. The court suspects that the reason
they didn't seek that leave is because the supplemental
declaration reflects that counsel for the County Defendants
billed at the quite reasonable rate of $175 an hour for lead
counsel, $150 per hour for other counsel and $90 per hour for
paralegals. Dkt. No. 145 at 1. In the court's experience,
these rates are lower than those charged by counsel of
similar skill in the Milwaukee area. The plaintiffs also
argued that the County Defendants included fees for work that
did not involve the termination of Cunningham's
deposition. The County Defendants quite correctly responded
that this court ordered an award of the fees and costs
incurred by bringing the motion for sanctions. Finally, the
amount of work reflected in the bill of costs is reasonable;
the descriptions of the time entries are sufficient to
determine what work was done and the bill provides the time
spent on each task.
court AWARDS the County Defendants costs in
the amount of $25.34, and fees in the amount of $3, 895.50,
for a total award of $3, 920.84. The court
ORDERS that the Attorney Gende shall pay the
full amount of the fees and costs to Attorney Douglas Knott
at Leib Knott Gaynor LLC within sixty (60) days of the date
of this order, unless he seeks additional time in writing
prior to the ...