Dascola Election Lawsuit Fees Settled: $30,731

The question of fees in the successful Bob Dascola election lawsuit against the city of Ann Arbor has been settled: The city of Ann Arbor will pay Dascola’s attorney, Tom Wieder, a total of $30,731.75. That total includes attorney fees in the amount of $30,306.25 – which is the result of 93.25 hours billed at an hourly rate of $325. The remainder of that total is $425.50 – costs for filings and document retrieval from the PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records) system.

The settlement is reflected in a court document filed by the city of Ann Arbor on June 19, 2014.

That total reflects a reduction from a total of $37,725.50 that Wieder had sought in his motion for award of fees filed with the court on June 6, 2014. [.pdf of motion for fees and accompanying brief] That requested fee award had been based on the same number of hours (93.25) but at the higher rate of $400 per hour.  The argument for the hourly rate is based on various standards cited in the accompanying brief, which include the quality of the results obtained for the client, and the reasonableness of the rate based on Wieder’s experience, skill, and reputation.

The fees agreed to by Wieder and the city of Ann Arbor are to be paid by July 15, 2014.

The ruling of the federal court in Dascola’s lawsuit made on May 20, 2014 by judge Lawrence Zatkoff, was that the city charter eligibility requirements were not enforceable, which put Dascola on the Ward 3 city council Democratic primary ballot for Aug. 5, 2014. He joins Julie Grand and Samuel McMullen on the primary ballot.

The settlement of the fees to be awarded comes after city attorney Stephen Postema reportedly made an effort to convince city councilmembers to direct him to appeal the federal court decision. University of Michigan professor of law Richard Friedman wrote an email to mayor John Hieftje, urging the council to appeal the decision. Friedman felt that the ruling in the case would be overturned on appeal. [.pdf of June 12, 2014 email from Friedman to Hieftje] Hieftje passed the email along to councilmembers.

But a consensus for that direction to appeal the Zatkoff decision was apparently not achieved by the council during two recent closed meeting sessions on the topic – on June 2, 2014 and June 16, 2014.

The ruling from judge Zatkoff was sharply critical of the city’s legal position: “[The city of Ann Arbor has] provided absolutely no authority as to why this Court should simply abandon the basic principles of law that have formed the foundation of the United States legal structure for over two hundred years.”

One Comment

  1. By Mark Koroi
    June 21, 2014 at 4:15 pm | permalink

    An appeal could have been disastrous for the city.

    Only about 10% of federal court judgments are overturned on appeal.

    Plus the City of Ann Arbor could possibly have exposure for an additional fee award for Dascola’s defense of such an appeal.