Thursday, March 01, 2012

CAFC tackles lodestar issues in ASHBURN BYWATERS v. US

from the decision:

Generally, our legal system adheres to the “American Rule” under which “each party in a lawsuit ordinarily shall bear its own attorney’s fees.” Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 429 (1983). However, in certain categories of cases Congress has carved out exceptions to the American Rule and allowed for recovery of attorneys’ fees. See Pennsylvania v. Del. Valley Citizens’ Council for Clean Air, 478 U.S. 546, 561-62 (1986). The fee-shifting provisions of the URA are one such example. See 42 U.S.C. § 4654. We have not yet had an occasion to interpret the fee-shifting provisions of the URA.

One finds:

United States v. Hohri, 482 U.S. 64, 71 (1987) (“A motivating concern of Congress in creating the Federal Circuit was the special need for nationwide uniformity in certain areas of the law.”

Of the lodestar:

We first consider the district court’s adjustment to the lodestar figure. In determining the amount of reasonable attorneys’ fees under federal fee-shifting statutes, the Supreme Court has consistently upheld the lodestar calculation as the “guiding light of [its] fee-shifting juris- prudence.” Perdue v. Kenny A. ex rel. Winn, 130 S. Ct. 1662, 1672 (2010) (quoting Gisbrecht v. Barnhart, 535 U.S. 789, 801 (2002)). Although there is a “strong presumption” that the lodestar figure represents a “reason- able” attorney fee, Dague, 505 U.S. at 562, the Supreme Court has recognized a district court’s discretion to adjust the lodestar figure “upward or downward” based upon other considerations, Del. Valley, 478 U.S. at 564 (quoting Hensley, 461 U.S. at 434).

There is a good line in the dissent:

ruling that all lawyers are fungible as a matter of law is for me carrying egalitarianism a bit too far.


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