In a case closely watched by civil rights and public interest groups, the Supreme Court has just ruled that under federal fee-shifting statutes, judges may award fees that go above the "lodestar" amount under rare circumstances, including superior performance by the attorneys.
The ruling came in Perdue v. Kenny A, involving a $4.5 million fee enhancement that Georgia was required to pay lawyers who brought and won a class-action suit challenging the state's foster care system.
While the 5-4 majority opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito Jr. allows for such enhancements, it said the district court in the Georgia case did not give "proper justification" for the extra award, reversed the ruling of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, and sent the case back to lower courts for further action. Dissenters, led by Justice Stephen Breyer, said the Court should not have second-guessed the district court's judgment.
More on this case and today's other Supreme Court action later at nlj.com