Court Reduces Requested Attorney Fees By 42.4 %, Because Plaintiffs Prevailed On Only 8 % of Their Total Claims

Posted on July 23rd, 2013 by Legal Fee Advisors

In a April, 2013 decision, the United States Court of Federal Claims, in the case of Gregory v United States, 110 Fed Cl 400 [Fed Cl 2013] awarded attorney fees in the amount of $299,202.75 to the class of plaintiffs, under the Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act of 1970 (URA). The award was a reduction of 42.4 percent of the amount claimed, due to the plaintiffs’ limited success on the merits.

The 257-member plaintiff class, consisting of property owners, filed a motion for recovery of attorney fees and costs under URA, in the amount of $774,964.99, plus anticipated closing costs after prevailing on Fifth Amendment taking claims in rails-to-trails class action. The plaintiffs were successful in proving that the Government had taken only 26 of the alleged 331 properties, and they were awarded approximately $110,000. The court reduced the billed hours based upon their lack of success, and awarded attorney fees that should have been “reasonably expended” in litigating the limited successful claims.

In order to determine the amount of hours that should have been reasonably spent on litigation, the court divided the time spent on this case into five different periods, and reduced them according to their connection to the litigation of the successful claims. The reduction applied by the court ranged from zero to 80 percent.

This case indicates that courts continue to actively consider the extent of a party’s economic success as relevant and proportionate to the fees expended to achieve that success.

E. Tutovic | D. Paige

Legal Fee Advisors © 2013

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2 Responses to “Court Reduces Requested Attorney Fees By 42.4 %, Because Plaintiffs Prevailed On Only 8 % of Their Total Claims”

  1. Albert says:

    Contingency fee system only works in civil suits innvovilg monetary damages. In US where it’s most widely practised, the “commission” for winning is one-third of the damages awarded to the lawyer.It’s advantage has already been widely noted, i.e. allowing the small men in streets bullied by rich men or big companies access to legal recourse. Furthermore, the lawyer would make sure that the case is worth contesting before litigating, otherwise he’d end up with nothing for his time.In the Singapore system, most lawyers would just take any case as billable hours, whether there’s a realistic chance of winning or not, since there’s nothing to lose. There’s no legal aid for civil cases in Singapore. There’s only CLAS (Criminal Legal Aid Service) with means testing at as low as S$900 p.m. income.In UK, where there’s also no contingency fee system like in US, legal aid covers civil cases too.

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