Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Do I get attorney fees if I win?

The American system of justice generally requires litigants to pay their own legal fees. Whether or not you agree, the rationale is that this system is necessary to allow fair access to the courts for litigants of lesser economic might.  Meritorious cases may not be brought if the penalty for losing is financial ruin.

With that said, there are times when a successful Michigan litigant is entitled to attorney fees. First, some statutes (usually those designed to protect the "little guy") specifically allow a successful plaintiff to recover attorney fees. These include actions brought under the Consumer Protection Act and civil rights acts.

Second, attorney fees are recoverable where actions or defenses are frivolous.  Note that losing is not the same as being frivolous. Frivolous occurs where there the party's positions (a) have no arguable legal merit, (b) are based on facts for which there is no reasonable basis for believing, or (c) where the primary purpose of the litigation is for an improper purpose, such as to harrass the other side. 

Third, there are times the rules of civil procedure allow the risk of attorney fees to be placed on the non-settling party. Parties who reject offers of judgment or case evaluations are placed at risk of attorney fee sanctions unless they do better at trial than if they had settled.

Michigan Legal Intelligence is authored by W. Jay Brown, a Midland Michigan based civil litigation attorney. The foregoing is intended to be for general information purposes only and is not intended to be specific legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship between W. Jay Brown PLC and you. Individuals with legal issues are advised to consult an attorney of your own choosing for advice specific to your situation.

No comments:

Post a Comment