Ninth Circuit Reverses Trial Court's McCowan Decision on Prevailing Party Fees


We reported on the Ninth Circuit's opinion in McCowan v. City of Fontana here, holding that the District Court failed to consider the level of success obtained by the plaintiff in a civil rights action. See Ian McCowan v. City of Fontana 550 F3d 918 (2008). McCowan had been arrested and tased by officers of the Fontana police department who had mistakenly believed that he was in possession of illegal drugs. In his subsequent excessive force case, McCowan prevailed on only one of his nine claims and recovered only $20,000 in damages via settlement, despite alleging damages in excess of $75,000. The District Court's award of $200,000 in legal fees and costs was overturned by the 9th Circuit.

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