"Prevailing Party" Status Not Necessary for an ERISA Attorneys' Fees Award

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In a decision authored by Justice Clarence Thomas, the United States Supreme Court has declared that an ERISA claimant need not be a “prevailing party” to be eligible for an attorneys? fees award. In Hardt v. Reliance Standard Life Insurance Co., __ U.S.__ (2010), the Court ruled that under 29 U.S.C. §1132(g)(1), a party may be awarded attorneys? fees if “some degree of success on the merits” is achieved, as opposed to the more stringent requirement imposed by some circuit courts that they be a “prevailing party.”

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