COA instructs court to award fees for litigation costs

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Christopher Scott Barker appeals the trial court’s attorney fees order issued upon remand from another panel of this Court. The fees order followed Barker’s successful civil rights action against the City of West Lafayette and Officer Adam S. Ferguson (collectively, “the City”). The City filed a cross-appeal. Barker raises one issue, which we restate as the following three:  (1) Did the trial court err in denying Barker’s petition for fees related to his trial court and post-remand litigation to recover attorney fees?; (2) Did the trial court err in denying Barker’s petition for fees related to his prior fee-related appeal to this Court?; and (3) Did the trial court err in awarding fees related to Barker’s unsuccessful excessive force claim against the City?

Conclusion (slip op. at 12-13):  We reverse the trial court’s order denying Barker fees related to litigation to his trial court and post-remand litigation to recover fees . . . [as well as the court’s order] denying Barker’s petition for fees related to his first appeal. We affirm the trial court’s award of fees related to Barker’s unsuccessful excessive force claim . . . We affirm on the remaining issues.

Key Analysis (slip op. at 6, 8, 9):  It is generally accepted that fees should be awarded to a prevailing party almost as a matter of course . . . It is well established that the prevailing party in a Sect. 1983 action may recover fees for appellate efforts, though Sect. 1988 does not specifically mention such fees . . . Where a successful and unsuccessful claim arise from a “single course of wrongful conduct” or “involved a common core of facts or [were] based on related legal theories” and where a plaintiff has obtained “substantial relief,” his attorney should recover a “fully compensable fee.”

About Bose McKinney & Evans LLP

Bose McKinney & Evans LLP is a business law firm, headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana, serving both publicly held and privately held businesses, governmental entities and high-growth industries. Our clients include Fortune 100 companies, international manufacturers, national and regional financial institutions, agribusinesses, sports teams, university-incubated start-ups, media, utilities, cities and schools, to name a few. We strive to build strong relationships with our clients as key business advisors, to exceed expectations in the quality of our work, to be knowledgeable about our clients’ businesses and sectors, to be responsive to service needs and to continually seek to improve the delivery of client services. Our ultimate focus is on our clients.
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