Skip navigation
× You have 2 more free articles available this month. Subscribe today.

Fourth Circuit: Where Offer of Judgment is Silent as to Costs, Prevailing Party Entitled to Recover Attorney’s Fees

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has held that “in an action brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, an offer of judgment pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 68(a) which makes no mention of costs or attorney’s fees cannot be interpreted, after the fact, to have included those costs and fees. Rather, in such a case, the prevailing party is entitled to recover costs and fees pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1988.”

Brenda Bosley filed suit against law enforcement officials of Mineral County, West Virginia after her estranged husband, Dr. James Bosley, killed himself while the officials, alerted by a complaint from Mrs. Bosley attesting to her husband’s instability, were attempting to take him into custody for a psychiatric examination.

After removing the case to federal court, the defendants served on Brenda Bosley an offer of judgment pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 68(a) for $30,000 “as full and complete satisfaction of [Bosley’s] claim against ... Defendants.” After accepting the offer, Bosley moved for attorney’s fees; the officials opposed the motion on the ground that their $30,000 offer was inclusive of attorney’s fees and costs.

The district court determined that the settled judicial interpretations of Rule 68 required it to award costs and attorney’s fees – over and above the $30,000 offer of judgment – to Bosley, who was the prevailing party.

The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court, finding no merit to any of the defendants’ arguments to the contrary. See: Bosley v. Mineral County Commission, 650 F.3d 408 (4th Cir. 2011).

As a digital subscriber to Prison Legal News, you can access full text and downloads for this and other premium content.

Subscribe today

Already a subscriber? Login

Related legal case

Bosley v. Mineral County Commission