Texas Supreme Court Addresses Attorney’s Fee Award in Employment Discrimination Matter
The Texas Supreme Court recently considered the calculation of an attorney’s fee award in an employment discrimination and retaliation case brought pursuant to Texas’s antidiscrimination statute. El Apple I, Ltd. v. Olivas, No. 10-0490, (Tex. June 22, 2012), available at http://www.supreme.courts.state.tx.us/historical/2012/jun/100490.pdf.
Texas uses the lodestar method when awarding attorney’s fees. A court must first determine the reasonable hours spent by counsel on the case and a reasonable hourly rate for such work. The court then multiplies these figures to reach the lodestar or base fee amount. The court may then adjust this base lodestar up or down by applying a multiplier if relevant factors indicate an adjustment is necessary.
The Court first held that a plaintiff must present proof of basic facts underlying the lodestar, such as (1) the nature of the work, (2) who performed the services and that person’s rate, (3) approximately when the services were performed, and (4) the number of hours worked. The Court then held that the lodestar method presumptively produces a reasonable fee but that exceptional circumstances may justify enhancements to the base lodestar. Here, because the plaintiff did not provide the trial court with legally sufficient evidence to calculate a reasonable fee award, the Court remanded the matter.
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KEITH A. CLOUSE
Clouse Dunn LLP
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