Monday, June 02, 2008

attorney fees - EAJA - paralegal time - prevailing market rates

Richlin Security Services v. Chertoff - US. Supreme Court - June 2, 2008

The question presented in this case is whether the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA), 5 U. S. C. §504(a)(l) (2006 ed.) and 28 U. S. C. §2412(d)(1)(A) (2000 ed.), allows a prevailing party in a case brought by or against the Government to recover fees for paralegal services at the market rate for such services or only at their cost to the party’s attorney.

Held: A prevailing party that satisfies EAJA’s other requirements may recover its paralegal fees from the Government at prevailing market rates.

EAJA, like §1988, must be interpreted as using the term "attorney . . . fees" to reach fees for paralegal services as well as compensation for the attorney’s personal labor, making "self-evident"that Congress intended that term to embrace paralegal fees.

Since §504 generally provides for recovery of attorney’s fees at "prevailingmarket rates," it follows that paralegal fees must also be recoverable at those rates.