Legal Memorandum: Calculating Attorney's Fees under FCA

Issue: Under federal law, may a district court summarily disallow attorney’s fees as ‘unfair’ when calculating attorney’s fees awardable in a False Claims Act (FCA), or qui tam, claim?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure, Personal Injury & Negligence
Keywords: Attorney fees; False Claims Act (FCA); Disallowance of fees as "unfair"
Jurisdiction: Federal
Cited Cases: 297 F.3d 253; 534 F.3d 1106
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 09/01/2014

The Third Circuit has applied the long-standing principle that a prevailing party is also entitled to reimbursement for time spent litigating its fee application.  Planned Parenthood v. AG, 297 F.3d 253, 268 (3rd Cir. 2002).  A district court cannot simply order a wholesale and summary disallowance of fees as “unfair.”  See Moreno v. City of Sacramento, 534 F.3d 1106, 1116 (9th Cir. 2008) (holding “if all the district court offers is a conclusory statement that a fee request is too high, then we can’t tell if the court is applying its superior knowledge to trim an excessive request or if it is randomly lopping off chunks of the winning lawyer’s reasonably billed fees.”)  


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