7th Circuit: Woman who lost case still entitled to attorney fees

April 26, 2016

A plaintiff who lost a breach of contract and negligence suit is entitled to attorney fees in the case after the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a ruling that said the company she sued engaged in “obstreperous discovery behavior.”

Angel Houston sued Hyatt Corporation after she fell at the Indianapolis downtown Hyatt during a New Year’s Eve celebration. C.G. Security Services Inc. was later named as a defendant in the case and she claimed their lack of security caused her injuries.

Hyatt was granted summary judgment in the case, but C.G.’s motion for summary judgment had to wait as Houston filed three motions for sanctions against C.G. The District Court referred the matter to a magistrate judge, who found C.G. testified falsely about its documents and discovery efforts. The magistrate held C.G. had failed to timely correct false representations and impeded fair conduct of depositions, and engaged in overall “obstreperous discovery behavior,” according to the decision. The District Court accepted the report and found C.G. should have to pay $118,925 in attorney fees and $16,498.91 in costs, even though it granted C.G. summary judgment on Houston’s claims. C.G. appealed the discovery decision.

The 7th Circuit said Houston’s counsel did satisfy the meet and confer requirements through participation in a discovery conference, and that one conference was enough, despite the claims of C.G. Also, there was enough evidence C.G. conducted discovery in bad faith. It did not provide information in a timely manner, if at all, then changed its answers when it did provide information.

The 7th Circuit also ruled that awarding attorney fees to Houston was not outlandish. Houston’s counsel charged his standard rate and did not overbill for the case.

The case is Angel Houston v. C.G. Security Services, Inc., 15-1518.


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