Legal Memorandum: Award of Attorney's Fees in FCA Cases

Issue: Under federal law, do courts closely consider the number of hours expended (and evaluate whether work was unnecessary) when calculating the number of hours reimbursable under the False Claims Act (FCA), or qui tam, claim?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure, Personal Injury & Negligence
Keywords: All hours reasonably expended; False Claims Act (FCA); Attorney fees
Jurisdiction: Federal
Cited Cases: 297 F.3d 253; 461 U.S. 424
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 09/01/2014

As the Supreme Court has made clear, a prevailing party is entitled to reimbursement for all hours “reasonably expended” whether or not they directly contributed to advancing the litigation.  Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. at 434-35 TA s "Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 437 (1983)" .  The Court in Hensley insisted on the distinction in terms:

Where a plaintiff has obtained excellent results, his attorney should recover a fully compensatory fee.  Normally this will encompass all hours reasonably expended on the litigation, … [and] the fee award should not be reduced simply because the plaintiff failed to prevail on every contention raised in the lawsuit. Litigants in good faith may raise alternative legal grounds for a desired outcome, and the court’s rejection of or failure to reach certain grounds is not a sufficient reason for reducing a fee. The result is what matters.

Id. at 435 TA s "Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 437 (1983)" .

When considering numerous motions brought during the course of the litigation, the courts have directed that “the question is not whether such motions are ultimately successful but instead the question is whether the filed motion was necessary and useful.”  See Planned Parenthood v. AG, 297 F.3d 253, 270-71 (3rd Cir. 2001) TA l "Planned Parenthood v. AG, 297 F.3d 253 (3d Cir. 2001)" s "Planned Parenthood v. AG, 297 F.3d 253, 270-71 (3d Cir. 2001)" c 1 . […]

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