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Attorney’s Fee Decision Points out Cost of Litigating Employment Cases

Published by on December 22, 2008

In a published decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, dated December 3, 2008, the court analyzed a fee award to the attorney for a former employee of the defendant.  The opinion in Grissom vs. The Mills Corporation can be found here.  Although the case may interest those entertained by technical […]

In a published decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, dated December 3, 2008, the court analyzed a fee award to the attorney for a former employee of the defendant.  The opinion in Grissom vs. The Mills Corporation can be found here.  Although the case may interest those entertained by technical legal doctrines involving offers of judgment under Rule 68 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the more interesting point for purposes of this blog was the amount of attorney’s fees claimed by the plaintiff’s attorney in the case. 

The attorney’s fee petition was filed after discovery but before the trial of the case.  The plaintiff had accepted an offer of judgment by the employer shortly before trial.  The offer of judgment did not include attorney’s fees and costs.  The petition submitted by the plaintiff sought over $325,000 for attorneys’ fees and costs.  (One can only imagine what the employer spent on its attorneys in this case.)  Although the award will be reduced as a result of the appeal, it certainly should give pause to employers considering slashing their budgets for human resources in 2009.

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