AUGUST 2009 BAD FAITH CASES NO AWARD OF ATTORNEYS’ FEES FOR POST-TRIAL AND APPELLATE WORK BASED ON PROCEDURAL RULES; NO REDUCTION OF FEES BASED ON REDUCED PUNITIVES (Philadelphia Federal)
In Jurinko v. Medical Protective Company, the U. S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania was faced with yet another issue in this case which has yielded significant address of bad faith issues, both in the trial court an on appeal. See below.
This Opinion, issued after a partial reversal by the Third Circuit on punitive damages, addressed attorneys’ fees. The plaintiffs sought over $100,000 in fees incurred on post-trial motions, on appeal and in preparing the instant motion for supplemental attorney’s fees. The Court went over the issue of whether it even had jurisdiction to hear the motion, where the case had not be clearly remanded by the Third Circuit. It did not answer this questions, denying the motion on other jurisdictional/procedural grounds.
First, as to fees for post-trial motions, under F.R.C.P. 54(d)(2), the plaintiffs did not meet the mandatory 14 day requirement from the entry of judgment to seek attorneys’ fees for work done to date, and so any post-trial, pre-appeal, fee claim was waived.
Second, under the Third Circuit’s Local Appellate Rules, attorney fee requests for work done on the appeal had to be made in the Third Circuit, not in the District Court.
Third, in light of the prior two rulings, it would be improper to award attorney’s fees for those two requests.
Finally, the Court rejected the Defendant’s motion to reduce the previously awarded attorney’s fees in an amount commensurate to the Third Circuit’s reduction of the punitive damage award (from 4:1 to 1:1). The Court rejected this effort because its earlier, affirmed, basis for the attorney’s fee award – the lodestar method under Pennsylvania Rule of Civil Procedure 1716— was not based on the amount of punitive damages.
Date of Decision: July 30, 2009
Jurinko v. Medical Protective Co., NO. 03-CV-4053, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 66324 (E.D.Pa. July 30, 2009) (Rufe, J.)