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Attorney Fees Under Fire in Minnesota

November 6, 2009 | Posted in : Article / Book, Contingency Fees / POF, Fee Award, Fee Shifting, Legislation / Politics, Prevailing Party Issues


An article, "Attorney Fees Under Fire", in Minnesota Lawyer discusses proposed legislation that has riled plaintiffs' attorneys. The bill would require that where a statute provides for the award of attorney fees to a successful litigant, judges must take into account the reasonableness of the fees sought in relation to the amount of damages awarded to the prevailing party. The bill also contains a provision mandating that if a plaintiff claiming an award of attorney fees rejected Rule 68 offer of a judgment and failed to obtain a verdict in excess of the offer, the plaintiff will not get fees after the date of the offer.

Opponents of the bill are concerned it will cause attorneys to refuse cases where the amount in dispute is minimal, like some landlord-tenant matters or debt collection cases. Minneapolis civil rights attorney Justin Cummins said, "It's going to be much more difficult to get the private bar involved if attorney fees are contingent on actual damages awarded." He added, "It would really create a disincentive for the private bar to come forward with public interest cases."