Thursday, July 02, 2015

Prevailing Attorney Entitled to Fee From District Greater Than What He Would Have Been Paid Had He Lost

In Price v. District of Columbia, the parents seeking relief on behalf of their child under IDEA.  They obtained counsel from the Juvenile Branch of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, which appointed an experienced member of that court's Special Education Advocate Panel.  Such counsel are paid by the courts $90 per hour if they are not otherwise compensated by the District of Columbia.  After prevailing in their administrative proceedings, the parents sought attorneys' fees at the rate of $250 per hour under the fee shifting provision of IDEA.  The District of Columbia refused to pay more than $90 per hour, the amount that would have been paid had the parents not prevailed.

The District Court held that the promise of payment of $90 per hour in the court appointment precluded any greater recovery.  The DC Circuit reversed, holding that the $90 that the court's would have paid the attorney had he not prevailed was not the prevailing market value of his services, but was merely a back-up promise of compensation, which did not preempt the fee-shifting provision of IDEA

The decision can be found here.


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