Hague Child Abduction – Legal Fees Awarded – Seventh Circuit

657 F.3d 526, Magnus NORINDER, Petitioner–Appellee, v. Sharon FUENTES, Respondent–Appellant. Nos. 10–2753 10–3887. United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit. Argued June 9, 2011.Decided Sept. 6, 2011.

“The district court used the lodestar method to calculate attorney’s fees and carefully evaluated all of the expenses that Norinder claimed. It reduced the total amount of time billed by Norinder’s lawyer and paralegal by 20% and cut the fee charged by the lawyer down to $300 an hour and that charged by the paralegal to $125 an hour. In addition, the court excluded expert witness fees and expenses that were paid to Norinder’s psychiatrist because there was not adequate documentation to support the claimed expenses. Norinder’s motion was thus granted in part and denied in part: Norinder asked for $170,000 and the court awarded $150,570.”

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“Finally, Fuentes argues that the fee award is so large that it will make it impossible for her to conduct divorce and custody proceedings in Sweden. At least two courts of appeals have recognized that a fee award in a case under the Convention might be excessive and an abuse of discretion if it prevents the respondent-parent from caring for the child. Whallon v. Lynn, 356 F.3d 138, 139 (1st Cir.2004); Rydder v. Rydder, 49 F.3d 369, 373–74 (8th Cir.1995). The district court recognized these cases but decided that, because Fuentes stood to make “in excess of $300,000 a year” following her fellowship, the award of $150,000 would not inflict that sort of harm.”

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