Cases & Deals

Members of Congress prevail in Fourth Circuit fee appeal

Clients Brat, David; Comstock, Barbara; Forbes, Randy; Goodlatte, Bob; Griffith, Morgan; Hurt, Robert; Rigell, Scott; and Wittman, Robert

Before a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, Jones Day, on behalf of a group of clients who are members of Congress from the state of Virginia, helped reverse a fee award of nearly a half-million dollars that had been previously imposed by a district court.

The underlying case involved a redistricting challenge, and the Virginia members of Congress intervened as defendants in their personal capacities to protect their personal interests in a dispute that could affect the boundaries of their congressional districts. After the plaintiffs prevailed at trial, the state declined to pursue an appeal, leaving the intervenors alone to defend the redistricting map. The intervenors were ultimately found to lack standing on appeal, and the district court subsequently entered an order requiring them to pay a significant portion of the fees and costs incurred by the plaintiffs.

Represented by Jones Day, the intervenors appealed to the Fourth Circuit, which reversed the fee award in a unanimous opinion. The court based its decision on the long-standing rule that intervenor-defendants who are not responsible for committing any civil-rights violation cannot be held liable for attorney’s fees as long as their intervention is not frivolous, unreasonable, or without foundation.

Brat v. Personhuballah, No. 17-1389 (4th Cir.)