Judge asked not to order city to pay lawyers $1.1M

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Attorneys for three police officers asked a federal judge Thursday not to order the city of Pittsburgh to pay nearly $1.1 million to the attorneys for Homewood man Jordan Miles.

The attorneys for city officers Michael Saldutte and David Sisak, and for former city officer Richard Ewing, wrote in a brief that the city in 2011 offered Mr. Miles $180,000 to settle his lawsuit. He declined to accept that, and eventually won a jury verdict of $119,016.

Since the verdict was less than the settlement offer, Mr. Miles' lawyers are not entitled to payment for time they spent litigating the case after they rejected the offer, the officers’ attorneys argued.

Last month Mr. Miles’ attorneys Joel Sansone, Robert Giroux, Timothy O’Brien, J. Kerrington Lewis and Margaret S. Coleman submitted documentation of 1,941 hours worked, for which they requested fees of $1,072,842, plus $83,639 in expenses.

Under federal law, losing defendants must usually pay the costs of the plaintiffs’ pursuit of a civil rights case. If the verdict is lower than the settlement offer, the defendant can seek to exclude fees incurred after the offer was rejected.

In March a jury in U.S. District Court found that the officers falsely arrested Mr. Miles on Jan. 12, 2010. Judge David S. Cercone is handling the case.

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