Federal Court Turns Away School District’s Attorney-Fee Claim


The United States District Court for the Western District of Texas has rejected a claim for attorney fees under 42 U.S.C. § 1988(b), which authorizes courts to award reasonable fees in actions to enforce civil rights statutes and related laws.

After losing their federal civil-rights lawsuit on summary judgment, plaintiffs approached Smith Law Group, P.C. about a potential appeal. Meanwhile, a group of defendants—an Austin-area school district and several of its employees—filed a motion asking the federal district court to assess nearly $30,000 in attorney fees against plaintiffs.

Although plaintiffs elected not to prosecute an appeal to the Fifth Circuit, they retained Smith Law Group and D. Todd Smith to oppose the fee application. After briefing, U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel denied the school district’s request and awarded no attorney fees, reasoning that the district failed to show the suit was frivolous.

William G. and Kathryn G. for Themselves and as Next Friends of J.G., a Minor v. Wimberley Independent School District, et al., Civil Action No. 1:11-CV-233-LY in the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas, Austin Division (slip opinion available here).


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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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