Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan at Ann Arbor. No. 5:07-cv-14538--John Corbett O'Meara, District Judge.
Joseph A. Golden, Kevin M. Carlson, PITT, MCGEHEE, PALMER, RIVERS & GOLDEN, P.C., Royal Oak, Michigan, Joseph A. Golden, BURGESS & SHARP, PLLC, Clinton Township, Michigan, for Appellant.
Laura Anne Sagolla, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Detroit, Michigan, for Appellee.
Before: NORRIS, SUTTON and GRIFFIN, Circuit Judges.
SUTTON, Circuit Judge.
After suffering severe wounds while serving in Iraq, James McKelvey did not receive the welcome home he deserved. He obtained a civilian job with the Army, but he faced relentless harassment at work based on his war injuries, leaving him no choice but to quit. McKelvey sued the Army for disability discrimination, and a jury awarded him millions in front pay. On appeal, this court held that the relevant statute entitled him only to reinstatement. On remand, McKelvey and the Army settled. The district court granted McKelvey's motion for attorney's fees, discounting the amount by half because (among other reasons) he had rejected a more favorable settlement offer before trial. Because we conclude the district court did
not abuse its discretion in making the fee award, we affirm.
McKelvey served our nation bravely in Iraq. In February 2004, he attempted to defuse a roadside bomb, and it exploded. He lost his right hand from the explosion, among other injuries. Two years later, McKelvey moved back to Michigan and accepted a civilian position with the Army as an operations specialist. At the new job, he received only menial assignments and was constantly taunted by colleagues, often (remarkably for an Army post) about his war-related injuries. He eventually reached the breaking point and resigned in 2007.
McKelvey sued the Secretary of the Army for disability discrimination in violation of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. See 29 U.S.C. § 791 et seq. The Army offered to reinstate him in a new position at a new location that was otherwise equivalent to his old job. A few days later, the Army sweetened the pot by offering $300,000 to settle the whole dispute. Negotiations followed. But a settlement did not. McKelvey wanted $2.2 million, well beyond the Army's settlement range, and he rejected both offers as a result. Two of his claims, hostile work environment and constructive discharge, went to trial. The jury ruled in his favor, awarding him nearly $4.4 million in front pay. The district court vacated that award, however, and we affirmed in part, precluding front pay and holding that reinstatement was the proper remedy under the statute. See McKelvey v. Sec'y of U.S. ...