The plaintiffs prevailed in their action under the Americans with Disabilities Act and sought attorney's fees, costs, and expenses. The district court rendered a fee award, but reduced the requested number of billable hours by 20%, set an hourly rate, and declined to enhance the overall award. The plaintiffs and the defendants both appealed. The court of appeal amended the award for purposes of the lodestar calculation to increase the number of billable hours to the amount requested and the prevailing hourly rate to $265. The court of appeal further enhanced the fee award, finding the case to be "rare" and "exceptional" based upon the results achieved and the protracted and highly-contested litigation. Upon review, the Supreme Court found no abuse of discretion in the district court’s fee award. The Court therefore reversed the ruling of the court of appeal and reinstated the judgment of the district court. View "Covington v. McNeese State University" on Justia Law
Plaintiffs-Class Representatives sought summary judgment in favor of numerous others similarly situated arising out of the failure of Louisiana Citizens Property Insurance Corporation (Citizens) to timely initiate loss adjustment on the enumerated members' insurance claims. The District Court granted summary judgment in plaintiffs' favor and awarded penalties for each compensable claim, totaling $92,865,000. The Court of Appeal reversed, finding a factual determination of whether the insurer breached its duty of good faith was required before assessing penalties. This litigation presented two issues of first impression for the Supreme Court: (1) whether an insurer is subject to the penalties imposed by former La. Rev. Stat. 22:658(A)(3) for its untimely initiation of loss adjustment in the absence of a showing of bad faith; and (2) whether the provisions of former La. Rev. Stat. 22:1220(C) capped those penalties at five thousand dollars when damages were not proven. Upon review, the Supreme Court found the plain language of La. Rev. Stat. 22:2658(A)(3) does not require a showing of bad faith by the insurer, but simply requires proof of notice and inaction for over thirty days. Furthermore, the Court found that the provisions of La. Rev. Stat. 22:1220(C) capped the penalties for such inaction at five thousand dollars when damages are not proven. Finding no error in the district court's award of the statutory cap for each failure to timely initiate, the Court reversed the judgment of the Court of Appeal and reinstated the district court's judgment.