Dobbs v. McLaughlin, No. 16-2135 (7th Cir. 2016)Annotate this Case
Doctors replaced Dobbs’s hip with a DePuy ASR artificial hip, which was defective and caused Dobbs pain and other problems. Dobbs hired McLaughlin to represent him in the DePuy ASR Hip Implant Multidistrict Litigation for a 35 percent contingency fee. A year later, DePuy proposed a “Global Settlement,” offering represented parties $250,000 and unrepresented parties $165,000. McLaughlin advised Dobbs to accept the offer because going to trial would be expensive, time consuming, and risky. Dobbs stated that he wanted to register for the settlement but that he did not want to “waive any rights to a trial,” or “be forced to accept the present settlement offer.” Dobbs moved to remove McLaughlin. McLaughlin acknowledged that he no longer represented Dobbs and withdrew as counsel. Acting pro se, Dobbs accepted the settlement; because he was considered “represented,” Dobbs received $250,000. McLaughlin asserted a lien on the award and sought attorneys’ fees under a quantum meruit theory. The district court held that the full contingency fee was a reasonable award. The Seventh Circuit vacated. The court listed the factors relevant to quantum meruit under Illinois law, but did not consider evidence related to the factors. The only factor specifically addressed was that Dobbs “undoubtedly benefitted” from McLaughlin’s work. The court did not analyze: how many hours McLaughlin spent on Dobbs’s case; the difficulty of the underlying claim; the ordinary charge for such work; or McLaughlin’s skill and standing.