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Judge Denies Attorney’s Fees to Prevailing Defendant

U.S. Magistrate Judge John A. Gorman has denied a request for attorney’s fees and sanctions against a plaintiff who brought an unsuccessful civil rights action.

Defendant Advanced Correctional Healthcare Inc. had argued that it was entitled to attorney’s fees because the plaintiff’s suit was “frivolous, unreasonable, or without foundation.”

But simply because a plaintiff “may ultimately lose his case is not in itself sufficient justification for assessment of fees,” Judge Gorman wrote. This is especially true in civil rights cases where “a careful balance must be drawn between the need to encourage private litigants to bring suit to vindicate civil rights and the need to deter actions brought primarily to harass a defendant without hope of success.”

In the case at hand, the court held that the suit did not “wholly lack either legal or factual basis at the time it was filed.” Accordingly, the defendants’ requests for fees were denied.

See: Brandon v. Advanced Correctional Healthcare Inc. No. 06-1316 (C.D. Ill. 2010).

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Related legal case

Brandon v. Advanced Correctional Healthcare Inc.