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Relator claimed (False Claims Act, 31 U.S.C. 3729-3733) that C&D manufactured and shipped 349 defective batteries to the U.S. government for use in intercontinental ballistic missile launch controls. The matter settled for $1.7 million, about six percent of the amount demanded in a Second Amended Complaint, entitling Relator to reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs. The parties were unable to agree on attorneys’ fees. The district court concluded that both parties’ counsel were uncooperative and did not act in good faith. Relator eventually increased his fee demand to $3,278,115.99, “almost $1 million more than the fees [he] sought a year ago and almost twice the dollar amount of the settlement [he] reached.” Relator used hourly rates that he “extrapolated” from actual Community Legal Services rates, which were higher than those that he originally used to calculate his demand. The court reduced Relator’s recoverable attorney hours for depositions, document review, summary judgment motions, a motion for reconsideration, Daubert motions, and travel time expenses, and applied a 10 percent reduction for lack of success on the merits. The parties agreed that for the purposes of the fee award, the court could use $1,794,427.27 for fees and $164,585.49 for costs. The Third Circuit remanded for consideration of “fees on fees” but otherwise affirmed. View "Palmer v. C & D Technologies, Inc" on Justia Law

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In November 2010, Hayes engaged Cybriwsky to represent him related to the denial of Hayes’s application for Social Security disability benefits. In February 2011, the case was remanded for further administrative hearings (42 U.S.C. 405(g)) because faulty recordings of the hearings rendered the record inaudible. On remand, the Administrative Law Judge entered a fully favorable decision for Hayes in August 2011. The district court affirmed in April 2012. The next month Cybriwsky sought attorney’s fees under the Equal Access to Justice Act, 28 U.S.C. 2414. The court granted attorney’s fees of $2,225 in August 2012. In April 2017, Cybriwsky moved, under 42 U.S.C. 406(b), seeking more than $11,000. in fees. He subsequently provided documentation of the fee arrangement, benefits paid to Hayes, and an itemized description of the work performed. By the time Cybriwsky filed his 2017 motion, the SSA had released the 25% of past-due benefits normally reserved to pay attorney’s fees; $5,300 was awarded to Hayes’s attorney at the administrative level and the remainder was released to Hayes. Any fees awarded to Cybriwsky would have to be recovered from Hayes, either directly or by having fees taken from Hayes’s monthly disability payments. The Sixth Circuit affirmed denial of the motion as untimely and determined that the circumstances did not merit the exercise of equitable tolling. View "Hayes v. Commissioner of Social Security" on Justia Law

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After Indianapolis police officers Anders and Carmack divorced, Anders stalked and threatened Carmack. The police department eventually opened a criminal investigation and placed a GPS tracking device on Anders's car with a warning mechanism to alert Carmack if he passed nearby. Carmack spent nights away from home so Anders could not locate her. Anders eventually discovered the device on his car and called Robinett—his friend and fellow police officer—who examined it and confirmed that the device was a GPS. Robinett did not tell investigators that Anders had discovered the device. Days later Anders drove to Carmack’s house and killed her and himself. She was not alerted to his approach. Carmack’s estate sued the city, Robinett, and others. The judge granted the defendants summary judgment, holding that Robinett was not liable under 42 U.S.C. 1983 because he did not act under color of state law. Robinett requested that the city pay his attorney’s fees and costs under the Indiana public-employee indemnification statute. The judge denied the motion, ruling that the statute applies only when the employee acted within the scope of his employment. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. A mere allegation that the employee acted within the scope of his employment does not trigger the indemnification obligation. View "Robinett v. City of Indianapolis" on Justia Law

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This litigation over attorney's fees stemmed from a Freedom of Information Act case. At issue was whether plaintiff was entitled to attorney's fees under the Freedom of Information Act attorney's fee statute. Applying a deferential standard, the DC Circuit held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in its analysis of four factors: (i) the public benefit from the case; (ii) the commercial benefit to the plaintiff; (iii) the nature of the plaintiff's interest in the records; and (iv) the reasonableness of the agency's withholding of the requested documents. Furthermore, the district court acted within its discretion when it concluded that the fourth factor outweighed the other three. View "Morley v. CIA" on Justia Law

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While serving as an administrative law judge for the State Personnel Board (SPB), Richard Fisher joined the law firm of Simas & Associates as “of counsel.” Simas & Associates specialized in representing clients facing administrative actions, including those heard by the SPB. The Simas law firm represented a CalTrans employee in a high-profile case that was being heard before the SPB while Fisher was serving his dual roles. Unaware Fisher was working for the law firm representing the CalTrans employee, the SPB administrative law judge hearing the high-profile case discussed the matter in a meeting attended by Fisher and even sent a draft opinion to her SPB colleagues, including Fisher. Fisher, however, never informed anyone at the SPB of his connection with the Simas law firm. Fisher’s connection with the law firm came to light only when another administrative law judge was asked about the matter during a local bar function. The SPB dismissed Fisher from his position as an administrative law judge. Fisher challenged the dismissal, which was affirmed after a hearing before the Office of Administrative Hearings. After a petition for mandamus relief was denied by the superior court, Fisher timely filed this appeal, arguing he should have been reinstated to his position because he was never personally served with notice that working for a law firm specializing in administrative matters constituted an impermissible activity for an SPB administrative law judge. Fisher additionally argued: (1) the 2013 incompatible activities statement adopted by the SPB was “an invalid ‘underground regulation;’ ” (2) conflicting evidence “fairly detracts from the findings” that he engaged in neglect of duty and other failures of good behavior; (3) the SPB’s decision “failed to address the Skelly[2] violation” of a missing document that was not disclosed to him prior to his hearing; and (4) his termination from employment at the SPB was not a just and proper penalty. The Court of Appeal rejected Fisher’s arguments that an SPB administrative law judge must expressly be informed it was impermissible to work for a law firm actively litigating cases before the SPB; Fisher’s conduct violated Government Code section 199903 and the SPB’s incompatibility activities statements that were in effect throughout his tenure as an SPB administrative law judge. The Court determined substantial evidence supported the findings of the administrative law judge who heard Fisher’s case that Fisher “displayed an appalling lack of judgment when he became of counsel with Simas & Associates” and “continued to demonstrate poor judgment when he failed to disclose his of counsel relationship to SPB.” The SPB did not abuse its discretion by dismissing Fisher. Accordingly, the Court affirmed the judgment. View "Fisher v. State Personnel Bd." on Justia Law

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An Arkansas trial judge filed suit against the Arkansas Supreme Court and justices in their official capacities, alleging that they violated his constitutional rights by permanently barring him from presiding over death penalty cases. The district court dismissed claims against the Arkansas Supreme Court as barred by sovereign immunity and denied the justices' motion to dismiss. The Eighth Circuit granted the justices' motion for writ of mandamus and directed plaintiff to dismiss the complaint with prejudice. The court held that plaintiff's free speech claim failed because he did not allege that he engaged in a protected activity where the recusal order applied to him in his role as a public employee and where recusal from death penalty cases was not an adverse employment action; the recusal order did not affect defendant's right to practice religion and his Free Exercise Clause claim failed; plaintiff's claim under the Arkansas Religious Restoration Act also failed; plaintiff was not deprived of his due process rights where he alleged no cognizable life, liberty or property interest; plaintiff failed to plausibly allege an equal protection claim; and the district court erred in allowing plaintiff's civil conspiracy claim to proceed were he failed to allege a plausible constitutional violation to support the claim. View "In Re: Honorable John Kemp" on Justia Law

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Capps sued six law enforcement officers under 42 U.S.C. 1983, for failure to intervene in an unlawful search and for use of excessive force. The parties attempted to negotiate a settlement: the defendants offered $47,500; Capps countered with $2 million. The defendants then offered $200,000, Capps demanded $3.5 million. Capps’s final settlement demand was for $3.6 million, which the defendants rejected. At trial, Capps succeeded on eight of his 10 claims, including his failure-to-intervene claims against each defendant and on his excessive-force claims against two defendants. A jury awarded Capps $22,000 in compensatory damages and $10,092 in punitive damages. After trial Capps sought to recover attorney’s fees pursuant to section 1988(b). After a failed settlement conference before a magistrate, the trial judge sua sponte “referred” the fee petition Chief Judge Reagan. No party objected. Judge Reagan explained that he was hearing the motion because he has a special interest in attorney’s fees based on his work with the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission and other experiences. Judge Reagan denied the petition. The Seventh Circuit reversed. Capps was awarded substantial damages and thus should have been awarded attorney’s fees. View "Capps v. Drake" on Justia Law

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The Director of the Judicial Qualifications Commission (JQC) brought formal charged against Eddie Anderson, the Chief Magistrate Judge for Tattnall County. The acts of judicial misconduct arose from the repossession of a vehicle from a woman by the owner of an automobile dealership due to lack of payment to the dealership and lack of insurance on the vehicle. Judge Anderson demanded via an ex parte phone call that the owner either return the woman’s repossessed vehicle or remit the money paid to the dealership for the vehicle and reimburse the woman for her insurance costs. When the owner refused these ex parte demands, Judge Anderson advised the woman to file a case against the owner in his court, which she later did. Judge Anderson undermined the public integrity and impartiality of the judiciary by advising the woman to file a case and by making ex parte demands before a case was even filed. Moreover, Judge Anderson’s demands and the woman’s subsequent lawsuit violated clearly established law. The Georgia Supreme Court accepted an agreement between the JQC and Judge Anderson that he be publicly reprimanded for his admitted violations of the Georgia Code of Judicial Conduct. View "Inquiry concerning Judge Eddie Anderson" on Justia Law

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The conduct of an attorney who was removed by order of the district court from his elected position as Van Buren County Attorney, while deserving of disapproval, did not rise to the level of misconduct that would warrant the “drastic” remedy of a court order removing an elected official from office. The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the district court and vacated the order removing Defendant from the office of county attorney, holding that the State’s evidence was insufficient to meet the high bar necessary for the removal of Defendant from his elected office. The Supreme Court remanded the case for entry of an order reinstating Defendant as Van Buren County Attorney. View "State v. Watkins" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's award of attorney fees and its order denying defendant's motion to untimely file a second request for attorney fees. The court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by reducing her requested attorney's fees for administrative proceedings. In this case, the district court was well within its discretion to deny defendant's motion for an extension of time to request the attorney fees she had failed to timely include in her first request. View "Paris School District v. Harter" on Justia Law