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Judge Awards $22k in Plaintiff’s Attorney Fees, Chastises Defense For ‘Aggressive Litigation Tactics’

A District Court judge in Wisconsin has granted a motion for attorney’s fees from the lawyers representing a plaintiff in a Fair Debt Collection Practices Act suit after the plaintiff accepted an offer of judgment, awarding $22,333.25. The defendant had made three recommendations ranging from denying the request to awarding $2,595, but the defendant’s own “aggressive litigation tactics” rendered the plaintiff’s attorney’s request “reasonable,” ruled Judge James Peterson of the District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin.

A copy of the ruling in the case of Broome v. Kohn Law Firm and Jason Donald Hermersmann can be accessed by clicking here.

The defendant attempted to argue that the plaintiff’s “over-litigated what is a simple claim with a small amount of damages,” a point that Judge Peterson referred to as a “fair point,” but Judge Peterson also noted that “a substantial portion of the blame for the size of the fees lies with defendants themselves.”

The plaintiff offered to settle the case for $4,000, including fees and costs, but the defendant countered that it thought it could win on a bona fide error defense, leading the plaintiff’s attorneys to conduct more research.

As well, Judge Peterson called out the defendant for filing a 26-page opposition brief to the plaintiff’s fee petition, “which undermines their contention that counsel should have devoted fewer resources to the petition.”

“When a defendant drives up litigation costs through its own aggressive strategy, it cannot later object to counsel’s efforts to do what is necessary to prevail,” Judge Peterson wrote.

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