C – : “Show Us Your Work,” Ninth Circuit Tells Fee-Deciding District Judges.
The Ninth Circuit in Padgett v. Loventhal, Case No. 10-16533 (9th Cir. Feb. 11, 2013) (published) reversed a $500,000 fee award (out of a requested $3.2 million) and $100,000 cost award (out of a requested $900,000) after one civil rights plaintiff won a contested jury trial, winning $1 nominal damages and $200,000 punitive damages on a First Amendment claim.
The fee and costs recoveries were vacated and remanded. Reason: the district judge, while citing the correct lodestar analysis, did not explain how it determined that the awards were appropriate as well as why he denied costs to other prevailing defendants. In doing so, it quoted from a D.C. Circuit opinion: “Since the district court is already doing the relevant calculation, it is a small matter to abide by the injunction of the arithmetic teacher: Show your work!” (City of Holyoke Gas & Elec. Dep’t v. FERC, 954 F.2d 740, 743 (D.C. Cir. 1992).