Administrative Law - Outline

Administrative Law - Outline - CHAPTER 9 ATTORNEYS FEES I...

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CHAPTER 9 – ATTORNEYS FEES I) Introduction A) American Rule - Each party in a case generally must bear its own legal expenses 1) General practice of not awarding fees to a prevailing party absent explicit statutory authority 2) Exception – When party engages in bad faith litigation B) Private attorneys in suits against government often work under contingency fee C) Fee-shifting statutes 1) Usually relate to particular substantive area of law (a) Ex: Environmental laws, civil rights laws, Freedom of Information Act 2) Authorize costs and attorneys fees to plaintiff in civil suit cases who is “prevailing party” or “substantially prevailing party” or who has “substantially prevailed” (a) Plaintiff is prevailing party if succeeds “on any significant issue in litigation which achieves some of the benefit the parties sought in bringing suit” (i) Does not have to win on every issue (b) Degree of success may affect the amount of award II) Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA) A) Generally 1) Applies broadly to any non-tort action against the United States, as well as to some agency adjudications 2) Includes ordinary APA judicial review cases and formal APA adjudications where the government is represented by an attorney (a) Government must be represented by counsel to trigger EAJA 3) Authorizes an award of attorneys fees to “a prevailing party other than the United States,” unless the court finds that “the position of the United States was substantially justified or that special circumstances make an award unjust” 4) Limits awards to eligible individuals and businesses based on size and net worth, tax-exempt charitable organizations, or any other organization that would qualify as a “small entity” (primarily small governments) 5) Analyzing claims for attorneys fees under EAJA (a) Is plaintiff a prevailing party? (b) Was government’s position in defending its claim substantially justified? (c) What fee amount can be awarded? B) Prevailing Party 1) Plaintiff must receive at least some relief on the merits of his claim before he can be said to prevail (a) Plaintiff who recovers damages in any amount, whether compensatory or nominal, qualifies as a prevailing party 2) Catalyst Theory (a) Was widely adopted by federal circuits
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(b) If plaintiff obtained essentially what it was originally seeking because the defendant changed its conduct as a result of the lawsuit, then plaintiff was considered to be prevailing party 3) Buckhannon Board and Care Home, Inc. v. West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (a) Supreme Court addressed catalyst theory (b) Facts - Buckhannon brought suit over state law provision; State enacted legislation eliminating disputed provision; court dismissed case; Buckhannon requested attorneys fees as “prevailing party” (c) In order to obtain prevailing party status under fee-shifting statutes, a party is entitled to attorney’s fees only if the party has secured a judgment on the merits or a court ordered consent decree
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Administrative Law - Outline - CHAPTER 9 ATTORNEYS FEES I...

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