Joseph S. McGreal, Plaintiff,
Village of Orland Park, et al., Defendants-Appellees, Appeal of: John P. DeRose, Counsel for the Plaintiff, Appellant.
May 29, 2019
from the United States District Court for the Northern
District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 12 C 5135 - Joan
Humphrey Lefkow, Judge.
Kanne, Sykes, and Brennan, Circuit Judges.
Village of Orland Park fired police officer Joseph McGreal in
2010. McGreal sued, alleging that the Village fired him in
retaliation for remarks he made at a community board meeting.
The district court granted summary judgment for the
defendants, finding that McGreal had advanced only
speculation to support his claims. We affirmed and also
remarked on the dearth of evidence to support McGreal's
we affirmed summary judgment, the district court granted the
defendants' motion for attorney fees and directed John P.
DeRose-McGreal's attorney-to pay $66, 191.75 to the
defendants. DeRose now appeals that order. Because the
district court did not abuse its discretion, we affirm.
2017 opinion provides a summary of McGreal's suit.
See McGreal v. Vill. of Orland Park, 850 F.3d 308,
310 (7th Cir. 2017). Suffice to say, the Village of Orland
Park fired McGreal from the police force after he spoke at a
November 2009 village board meeting. At the meeting, he
suggested several solutions to a budgetary shortfall facing
the Village. McGreal's recommendations would have
protected junior officers from layoffs by eliminating
benefits enjoyed by more senior officers. McGreal believes
that these suggestions motivated his June 2010 termination.
But the Village contends that it fired McGreal because he
repeatedly engaged in misconduct during late 2009 and early
contested his termination through arbitration. The arbitrator
sustained 75 of the 76 disciplinary charges in McGreal's
record and concluded that the Village fired McGreal for just
of 2012, McGreal commenced a federal lawsuit, pro
se, against the Village and several members of the
police department. On October 19, 2012, attorney John DeRose
appeared as plaintiff's counsel. He promptly filed an
amended complaint on McGreal's behalf. After the
defendants filed a motion to dismiss, the court dismissed
most claims but permitted several (significantly narrowed)
claims to proceed.
aggressively pursued discovery: he took twelve depositions,
made 294 document requests, and filed three motions to
compel. During discovery, defense counsel asked DeRose on
multiple occasions to end the litigation. On February 3,
2014, defense counsel sent DeRose an email requesting
dismissal of several individual defendants because discovery
had revealed no evidence to support the claims against them.
Then in July 2014, defense counsel sent DeRose a letter
advancing similar arguments. Defense counsel threatened Rule
11 sanctions in both communications.
discovery, McGreal voluntarily dismissed six defendants but
defended against summary judgment on the remaining four
defendants. The district court granted judgment for
defendants. The court began by noting that DeRose's
summary judgment filings did not comply with Northern
District of Illinois Local Rule 56.1 (which provides
guidelines for submitting a statement of facts at summary
judgment). "[T]he motion could have been granted by
simply rejecting plaintiff's Local Rule 56.1
submissions," but the court opted to resolve the summary
judgment motion on its merits. The court explained that the
defendants had offered evidence to support their theories of
defense, and McGreal's arguments and evidence to the
contrary were speculative.
6, 2016, McGreal appealed. Several weeks later, the
defendants filed a motion for attorney fees. The defendants
spent most of the motion arguing that the court should award
fees under the 42 U.S.C. § 1988 fee-shifting provision.
They also argued that the court should sanction DeRose
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11.
March 6, 2017, we affirmed the judgment for the defendants.
850 F.3d 308. Like the district court, we found that McGreal
had "offered no admissible evidence showing that he
[was] entitled to relief." Id. at 310. Several
months later, the district court granted the defendants'
motion for fees. Instead of relying on § 1988
fee-shifting, the court concluded that "under Rule 11,
McGreal's counsel's summary judgment filings were not
well grounded in fact or warranted by existing law or a good
faith argument for the extension, modification, or reversal
of existing law." Ultimately, the court ordered DeRose
to pay $66, 191.75 ...