Chicago-based Litigation special counsel Alan Salpeter was quoted in a recent issue of the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin on a case seeking to award additional attorney fees to the victim of excessive force at the hands of Chicago police officer. In Robert L. Winston v. Officer O’Brien, Salpeter successfully represented Winston, with the jury awarding $1 in compensatory damages and $7,500 in compensatory damages in November 2012.
The city of Chicago was responsible for the compensatory damages and Officer O’Brien had to pay the punitive ones. After the trial the judge in the case awarded Winston $187, 467 in attorney fees and later awarded an additional $90,000 for his attorneys’ efforts to collect those fees. The city of Chicago declined to indemnify O’Brien for the attorney fees he was order to pay.
Last week, the judge in the case said that O’Brien, already facing more than 20 years of wage garnishment to pay the nearly $278,000 of existing fees, would not have to pay additional attorney fees that have been requested. Acknowledging the fees awarded are not enough to fully compensate Winston’s attorneys, the judge nonetheless determined that it would be unfair to add to O’Brien’s financial hardship.
Salpeter said that he is pleased the judge determined that the fee request was reasonable and that he and his co-counsel are entitled to the fees. It additionally notes that he believed the judge’s conclusion that O’Brien should not have to pay the additional amount is correct.
However, Salpeter did not feel the same way about the city of Chicago: “The city made all of the strategic decisions throughout the case, the city turned down a reasonable settlement before the trial and the city chose the lawyers and controlled literally every aspect of the defense,” he said. “And the city should pay Officer O’Brien’s fees.”
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