Phillips v. Ford Motor Company, No. 05-CV-503, 2005 WL 3263905 (S.D. Ill. Nov. 30, 2005).
A federal district court in Illinois recently denied the plaintiffs’ request for nearly $50,000 in attorney’s fees and costs claimed to have been incurred in connection with a motion to remand in this case removed under the Class Action Fairness Act. The district court had previously granted the plaintiffs’ remand motion on the grounds that the initial lawsuit was commenced prior to CAFA’s enactment date (Editor’s Note: See CAFA Law Blog summary posted on November 15, 2005 for a summary of and link to the district court’s remand decision).
After the district court’s remand decision, the defendant requested permission from the Seventh Circuit to file an appeal (which had not been decided at the time of the district court’s opinion), countered by the plaintiffs filing a motion with the district court, seeking their attorney’s fees and costs incurred in filing the remand motion. Addressing the motion for attorney’s fees, the court held that while there is a presumption in the Seventh Circuit favoring an award of fees in the context of a successful remand motion, the defendant’s removal was based on an interpretation of a recently enacted statute with considerable uncertainty as to how CAFA should be construed, so an award of attorney’s fees and costs would be inappropriate in this case. The court also noted that the plaintiffs’ request for $50,000 in fees based on their alleged 130 attorney hours in writing the motion “shocks” the court, and rather than considering awarding a lesser amount, would deny attorney’s fees and costs altogether, as an appropriate sanction for a request that was “so exorbitant as to constitute an abuse of the process of the court asked to make the award.”