Padgett v. Loventhal

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Attorney Fees
  • Date Filed: 02-11-2013
  • Case #: 10-16533
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Murguia for the Court; Chief Judge Kozinski and Circuit Judge Hawkins
  • Full Text Opinion

Remand is necessary where, for a reduced attorney fee and cost award, the district court fails to explain how it determined the appropriateness of the award amount.

Plaintiff Joseph Padgett filed various claims against several city employees. Padgett prevailed on one claim, a § 1983 First Amendment violation, against one defendant and moved for an award for attorney's fees and costs. The district court awarded $500,000 in attorney’s fees and $100,000 for costs, despite Padgett’s petition for $3.2 million in attorney’s fees and $900,000 for costs. The district court found this award to be reasonable in light of Padgett having successfully prevailed on only one claim. The district court’s only support for the reduced fee award was stated in a footnote that the court may use the lodestar method for calculating fees by “simply reduc[ing] the award to account for the limited success” after “consider[ing] factors relevant to the reasonableness” of the attorney’s fees and costs requested. The Ninth Circuit explained that while the district court applied the correct methodology for calculating fees and costs, it did not describe how it actually calculated the award. The Court also noted that all attorney work which contributes to a successful claim should be given a reasonable award. Therefore, the Court held that because the district court had failed to provide an explanation for how it reached its award amounts it could not review them for abuse of discretion. VACATED and REMANDED.

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