In the United States, parties typically pay their own legal fees, absent a fee-shifting statute or contract. A statute or contract can force the losing party to pay the prevailing party’s legal fees. There are over 200 federal statutes, and nearly 2,000 state statutes that include fee-shifting provisions. The Fair Labor Standards Act and the Lanham Act are two federal statutes that have a fee-shifting provision.
Moore Kuehn recently represented a client before the U.S. Court of Appeal for the Second Circuit to determine when a party is “prevailing” to trigger fee shifting under the Lanham (trademark) and Copyright Acts. Justin Kuehn argued before the Second Circuit to affirm a lower court decision upholding an attorney’s fees award in favor of the client. In a reported decision, the Second Circuit affirmed the District Court’s holding that the client was “prevailing” under the applicable statutes even though the court dismissed the case without resolving the underlying merits of the dispute. Moore Kuehn’s client was awarded approximately $50,000 in attorney’s fees as a result of the decision.