Bringing Home the Bacon: HeplerBroom Clients Receive 25 Million Fee Award
On October 26, the Circuit Court for Scott County granted HeplerBroom’s clients’ motion for reasonable attorneys’ fees and expenses, and awarded the clients more than $2.5 million under the Illinois Farm Nuisance Suit Act (740 ILCS 70/4.5). The award represented the culmination of eleven years of litigation in which the firm defended the operators of a hog farm accused of being a private temporary nuisance to its neighbors in Winchester, Illinois. These eleven years of litigation saw a little of everything – a mistrial, a complete defense verdict, an appeal, claims that the Farm Nuisance Suit Act was unconstitutional, and an effort to appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court.
At each of these stages, the firm prevailed. The firm successfully defended the jury’s verdict and convinced the Illinois Court of Appeals that the Farm Nuisance Suit Act entitled any defendant that prevails in a nuisance suit to an automatic fee award. This latter ruling was an issue of first impression for Illinois courts. On remand, the firm successfully persuaded the Circuit Court for Scott County to review the firm’s fees and expenses, in camera, and rejected the plaintiffs’ attempts to further extend the litigation. From there, the Circuit Court issued the order granting the motion for reasonable fees and expenses, concluding that the firm’s clients were entitled to recover more than $2.5 million from the plaintiffs.