Before You Request Your Fees from Your Opponent, Be Sure You Have Prevailed

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Although this sounds obvious, the Ninth Circuit recently illustrated, in Klamath v. Bureau of Land Management, No. 08-35463 (9th Cir., Dec. 15, 2009), that a plaintiff must have actually received some kind of relief on the merits of her claim before she can be said to have prevailed, and thereby be entitled to her attorneys' fees. There must be a "material alteration" of the status quo, and the court's order must consist of relief, not merely a determination of legal merit. There must be some kind of "judicial imprimatur," which first means, typically, a court order of some kind.

The judicial imprimatur must also be an enforceable entitlement to relief...

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