Friday, September 24, 2010

Victory for Justice

Today (9/24/10), Chief Judge Coffman of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky issued an order granting over 98% of a petition for attorney’s fees and costs on behalf of one of our consumer clients, Madeania Justice.  This is a solid victory for consumers because it encourages litigators to take on important cases that may not feature large damage awards or settlements but still allow for the opportunity for the attorneys to cover their time and expenses:

 “Justice’s small recovery does not render her case a nuisance or disqualify her as a prevailing party.  Justice need only show that her settlement provides some benefit to her, or some vindication of her rights, and that the settlement furthers the legislative intent of encouraging private enforcement of the respective statutes. ….  Monetary settlements often are small in consumer-protection cases, so the nuisance hurdle must be set low to avoid discouraging private enforcement.”  Order p. 4.

"Congress intended to bring an entire action that includes a Truth in Lending Act claim within the fee-shifting provision of the statute. .... Many attorneys would turn down consumer-protection cases if they were faced with the prospect of prosecuting such cases only to prevail on non-fee-shifting claims." Order pp. 6-7

 “Brother’s Auto argues that any time Justice’s attorneys spent conferring with one another should be excluded. ....  It would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, for a team of attorneys to effectively represent a client without conferring with one another.” Order p. 9.

Madeania Justice v. Nasser, Inc., dba Brothers Auto Sales, Il, Case No. 5:08-cv-00255-JBC-REW (E.D. Ky. Sep. 23, 2010).  The full opinion and order is available through the PACER service or here.