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Legal Memorandum: Court's Discretion to Award Attorney's Fees

Issue: Whether the trial court has discretion to award attorney’s fees in a Texas case?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Award attorney's fees; Discretion
Jurisdiction: Texas
Cited Cases: 742 S.W.2d 413; 822 S.W.2d 122
Cited Statutes: Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 37.009; § 174.252, § 174.252(b)(3), § 174.252(c)
Date: 12/01/2006

A plaintiff is entitled to request an award of attorney’s fees under the Declaratory Judgments Act, and it is entitled to recover such fees if it is entitled to the requested declaratory relief.  Int’l Ass’n of Firefighters Local 624 v. City of San Antonio, 822 S.W.2d 122, 132 (Tex. App. 1991—San Antonio, writ denied; reh’g of writ of error overruled).  Under the Declaratory Judgments Act, the trial court has discretion to award attorney’s fees.  Lubbock Prof’l Firefighters v. City of Lubbock, 742 S.W.2d 413, 418 (Tex. App.—Amarillo 1987, writ ref’d n.r.e.).  “In any proceeding under this chapter, the court may award costs and reasonable and necessary attorney’s fees as are equitable and just.”  Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 37.009. 

§ 174.252 expressly grants the district court authority to award reasonable attorney’s fees in actions brought under § 174.252.  See § 174.252(b)(3).  Section 174.252 also provides that “[t]he court costs of an action under this section, including costs for a master if one is appointed, shall be taxed to the public employer.”  Id., § 174.252(c).

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