When the final bill for a 2003 anti-war march lawsuit brought by hundreds of people Chicago police arrested came before the city’s Finance Committee Monday, aldermen were looking at a figure nearly twice the size of the $6.2 million settlement reached in February.
The difference: nearly $5 million in lawyers’ fees, the result of litigating the case for nine years since the mass arrests at the end of a March 20, 2003 Iraq war protest march. Finance committee members approved the $11 million payout Monday, as well as another $1.14 million for a related lawsuit brought by 16 plaintiffs who did not join the class-action case, which represented some 900 people.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s corporation counsel, Steve Patton, said the city was “unlikely to prevail” in the case after a harsh appellate court ruling last year. If the case went to trial, the plaintiffs were asking for $11 million in damages. Even higher lawyers’ fees could have been added onto that tab.
While the legal fees in the class-action suit totaled $4.8 million on a $6.2 million settlement, the fees in the smaller case were nearly triple the settlement. That case was settled for $280,000, but legal fees came to $855,000, city officials said.
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