United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Western Division
Denise M. Coley, et al., Plaintiffs,
Lucas County, Ohio, et al., Defendants.
G. Carr Sr. U.S. District Judge
a civil rights case arising from the death of an
inmate-Carlton Benton-in the Lucas County Jail.
Benton's survivors, brought this civil rights action
based on alleged violations of Benton's constitutional
rights and various state laws.
August, 2016, defendants made a Fed.R.Civ.P. 68 offer of
judgment (“offer”), which plaintiffs accepted.
All that remains is the amount of attorneys' fees and
costs to which plaintiffs' counsel are entitled and,
accordingly, the proper analysis for calculating those fees
reasons that follow, I conclude the lodestar analysis found
in 42 U.S.C. § 1988 applies, and plaintiffs' counsel
shall recover based on the prevailing hourly rate in Toledo,
case arises from the death of Carlton Benton, a pretrial
detainee in the Lucas County Jail. Plaintiffs allege that
Benton's death was the result of wrongful acts committed
by various Lucas County officials and that other Lucas County
officials tried to cover up those wrongful acts.
allege the altercation that resulted in Benton's death
occurred in his medical cell on or about May 30, 2004.
to the complaint, defendants Deputy Schmeltz and Officer Gray
entered the medical cell and placed Benton, who remained
handcuffed, on a bed and attempted to remove his restraints.
When Benton began to struggle with the officers, making it
difficult to remove the restraints, defendant Officer Gray
grabbed Benton from behind and placed him in a “sleeper
hold.” Benton stopped resisting, gasped for air, and
was then unconscious. According to plaintiffs, defendant
Officer Gray ordered the officers to leave Benton's cell.
Officer Benton did not inform medical personnel of the
incident or seek any medical care for Benton. A few minutes
later, a county deputy found Benton, who was taken to the
hospital and declared brain dead the next day.
on allegedly false statements by various defendants and
incomplete or inaccurate information regarding Benton's
death, the Lucas County Coroner stated in a 2004 autopsy
report that Benton died from natural causes. However, in
2008, the Federal Bureau of Investigation began an external
investigation into Benton's death. Around that same time,
the Lucas County Coroner issued a new autopsy report, stating
Benton's death was a homicide.
April, 2009, the Department of Justice filed an indictment in
the Northern District of Ohio containing multiple counts
against defendants in the present action.
learning of the true cause of Benton's death and the
cover-up, Benton's surviving family members brought this
§ 1983 action. Plaintiffs allege that Benton's death
occurred as result of the actions taken by defendants Deputy
Schmeltz and Officer Gray and that they acted in concert with
defendants Sheriff Telb and Captain McBroom to conceal the
circumstances of Benton's death. This civil action was
stayed pending final adjudication of the related criminal
August, 8, 2016, defendants made a Rule 68 offer of judgment.
In addition to the provision to pay a specific amount of
compensatory damages ($750, 000), the offer includes a
separate award for reasonable attorneys' fees and costs
(not to exceed $750, 000), to be agreed upon by the parties
or, in the event the parties could not reach an agreement, to
be determined by me. Further, the offer expressly states that
it was “intended to resolve any and all of
Plaintiffs' claims against Defendants in ...