In the Matter of Mandate of Funds for the Lake Superior Court; Lake County Council and Lake County Auditor, Appellants/Cross-Appellees,
The Hon. John R. Pera, et al., Appellees/Cross-Appellants.
from the Lake Superior Court, No. 45D10-1702-CB-3 The
Honorable W. Tobin McClamroch, Special Judge On Automatic
Review under Trial Rule 60.5(B) and Appellate Rule 61
Justices concur. ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANTS/CROSS-APPELLEES
Anthony W. Overholt Maggie L. Smith Frost Brown Todd LLC
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEES/CROSS-APPELLANTS Jeffrey C. McDermott
William J. Barkimer Krieg DeVault LLP Carmel, Indiana
mandate-of-funds action, the parties' only remaining
dispute is over what attorney's fees and expenses the
Judges of the Lake Superior Court should recover. The parties
put this question to the Special Judge, who ruled that the
Judges are entitled to recover $176, 467.17. Having reviewed
each side's challenge to that award, we affirm.
and Procedural History
in 2017, fourteen Judges of the Lake Superior Court issued an
Order for Mandate of Funds under Indiana Trial Rule 60.5. The
order found that valuable court employees are underpaid,
endangering the court's ability to continue operating in
an efficient manner. The order required the Lake County
Council and the Lake County Auditor (collectively, "the
Council") to provide funding, including scheduled
raises, for court employees. The order covered over 170 court
employees in twelve job classifications. According to the
Council, complying with the order would cost the County
between $1.5 and $2.3 million.
appointed attorney W. Tobin McClamroch as Special Judge to
hear the case. Each side retained counsel. Discovery ensued:
multiple requests for production and interrogatories were
used, and two dozen depositions were taken. Salary
information was compiled. Mediation occurred but was
unsuccessful in resolving the case. The parties prepared for
trial and filed pretrial briefs and multi-page lists of
witnesses and exhibits.
days before the three-day bench trial was set to start, the
parties announced they agreed to settle the dispute. At the
parties' request, the trial was vacated. The parties then
negotiated the specifics of their settlement. Their
Settlement Agreement and Release is not in the record, but
the parties agree it includes the following paragraph:
The County will pay the reasonable legal fees and expenses
incurred by the Superior Court in prosecuting the Mandate
Action prior to the dismissal of the Mandate Action. In the
event the parties are unable to agree to this amount, the
parties agree to submit the issue to the Special Judge for a
decision. Either party may seek review of that decision
before the Indiana Supreme Court. The Superior Court[ ]
agree[s] that the Council has no further obligation for
attorney fees in this matter.
Appellants' App. Vol. II at 17.
Judges requested $223, 234.17 in legal fees and expenses.
That amount consisted of 237.2 billed hours of attorney
Jeffrey C. McDermott at $430/hr.; 309.4 billed hours of
attorney William J. Barkimer at $245/hr.; 30.4 billed hours
of attorney Matthew C. Branic at $245/hr.; 133.6 billed hours
of a paralegal at $195/hr.; and expenses totaling $11,
935.17. The Council opposed the Judges' request as
parties submitted their dispute over fees and expenses to the
Special Judge by filing briefs and documentary evidence. In
his Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law, and Order, the
Special Judge concluded the Judges' expenses and
attorneys' time entries were all reasonable in light of
the case's complexity. He found, however, that the Judges
should recover no more than the reasonable and customary
hourly rate for an attorney in Lake County, and so he limited
the hourly rate to $240/hr. for each of the Judges'
attorneys. Id. at 18-19. He accordingly ordered the
Council to pay the Judges $176, 467.17 for their fees and
has not been waived under T.R. 60.5(B). Therefore, we address
the Council's ...