Nichols v. Longo, No. 21-1982 (7th Cir. 2022)Annotate this Case
Nichols prevailed in a discrimination action against his employer. The district court awarded Nichols $300,000 in compensatory damages and various forms of equitable relief, including back pay and pension contributions as well as reinstatement. Two years later, the district court awarded his attorney (Longo) $774,645.50 on a post‐trial motion for statutory attorney’s fees. While Longo’s appeal proceeded, Nichols filed a district court motion to adjudicate attorney’s fees and for other relief. He had executed a contingency fee agreement before filing the underlying discrimination action, and he challenged Longo’s assertion that he had a right to 45% of the entire relief, including the total monetary award and all equitable relief. Longo contended that he was entitled to that amount under the contingency fee arrangement in addition to the entire statutory attorney fees award. Nichols argued that Longo’s fee demand is excessive and violates Illinois Supreme Court Rule 1.5 because the contingency agreement itself was unconscionable.
The district court, while expressing concern about Longo’s position, determined that its jurisdiction did not extend to attorney fee disputes after the case has been dismissed and jurisdiction has been relinquished. The Seventh Circuit affirmed the statutory attorney fee award. The district court correctly determined that the contingency contract dispute is not within its jurisdiction.