United States District Court, W.D. Missouri
PLANNED PARENTHOOD OF KANSAS AND MID-MISSOURI, INC., Plaintiff,
PETER LYSKOWSKI, Defendant.
NANETTE K. LAUGHREY United States District Judge
before the Court is Plaintiff Planned Parenthood of Kansas
and Mid-Missouri, Inc.’s (“PPKM”) motion
for attorneys’ fees, Doc. 79, and Missouri Department
of Health and Senior Services’ (“DHSS”)
motion to alter or amend judgment, Doc. 83. For the reasons
set forth below, PPKM’s motion for attorneys’
fees is granted in part and denied in part. DHSS’s
motion to alter or amend is denied.
November 2015, PPKM filed a motion for preliminary injunction
to prevent DHSS from revoking its Ambulatory Surgical Center
(“ASC”) license after PPKM’s physician lost
her admitting privileges at the University of Missouri
hospital. Following the issuance of a temporary injunction,
discovery, and oral arguments, the Court granted PPKM’s
motion for preliminary injunction, concluding that
DHSS’s attempted revocation of the ASC license violated
the Equal Protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of
the U.S. Constitution. In May 2016, the Court granted
PPKM’s request for a permanent injunction through the
date its ASC license expired. PPKM now requests
attorneys’ fees for its successful litigation of the
case, and DHSS requests that the Court alter or amend its
order granting PPKM’s motion for permanent injunction.
PPKM’s Motion for Attorneys’ Fees
the Court’s order granting PPKM a permanent injunction
prohibiting DHSS from revoking its ASC license before the
license’s expiration date, PPKM filed a motion for
attorneys’ fees requesting that the Court award PPKM
$156, 788.18 in fees and expenses.
allocating attorneys’ fees between parties, Missouri
ascribes to the “American Rule, ” requiring that
“parties bear their own attorneys’ fees unless
fee shifting is authorized by contract or statute.”
Brown v. Brown-Thill, 2014 WL 3892962, at *10
(8thCir. 2014). In order to recover fees, the
party requesting fees must be the prevailing party in the
litigation. Motor Control Specialties, Inc. v. Labor and
Industrial Relations Commission, 323 S.W.3d 843, 854
(Mo.Ct.App. 2010). In order to be the prevailing party, the
litigant need only obtain “a favorable decision on a
single issue if the issue is one of significance in the
underlying case.” Id. (quotations omitted)
(quoting Greenbriar Hills Country Club v. Dir. of
Revenue, 47 S.W.3d 346, 353 (Mo. banc 2001). “The
starting point in determining attorney fees is the lodestar,
which is calculated by multiplying the number of hours
reasonably expended by the reasonable hourly rates.”
Fish v. St. Cloud State Univ., 295 F.3d 849, 851
(8th Cir. 2002) (citing Hensley v.
Eckhart, 461 U.S. 424, 433 (1983)).
PPKM’s Success on the Merits
argues that PPKM’s fee award should be substantially
reduced because the relief obtained by PPKM did not actually
benefit the center as it was unable to use the ASC license
before it expired. PPKM did not secure a physician with
admitting privileges to provide abortion services at the
center before the license expired at the end of June.
PPKM was not able to “use” the ASC license
insofar as it permitted the center to perform abortions with
the requisite doctor, this does not mean that PPKM incurred
no benefit by prevailing in the lawsuit. As the Court noted
in its preliminary and permanent injunction orders, the value
of a property right does not evaporate simply because the
property is not being utilized. The Supreme Court has
repeatedly recognized that “the touchstone of the
prevailing party inquiry must be the material alteration of
the legal relationship of the parties.” Farrar v.
Hobby, 506 U.S. 103, 111 (1992); Texas State
Teachers Assn v. Garland Independent School Dist., 489
U.S. 782, 792-93 (1989). PPKM was able to retain its legal
status as an ASC because it prevailed in the litigation,
which constituted a concrete and significant benefit to PPKM
even though the center was not performing abortions.
also argues that PPKM achieved only limited success on its
claims as a whole. While the Court granted PPKM’s
requests for preliminary and permanent injunctions based on
their equal protection arguments, the Court did not address
their due process arguments. DHSS contends that PPKM’s
failure to succeed on its due process claim justifies a 25%
reduction in the lodestar amount.
Supreme Court has specifically rejected the idea that an
attorneys’ fees award should be reduced simply because
a plaintiff does not prevail on every argument raised in a
lawsuit. “Litigants in good faith may raise alternative
legal grounds for a desired outcome, and the court’s
rejection of or failure to reach certain grounds is not a
sufficient reason for reducing a fee. The result is what
matters.” Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424,
435 (1983). Here, PPKM achieved total success on the merits
by being granted both a preliminary and permanent injunction
on equal protection grounds. PPKM’s due process
arguments were not frivolous, and therefore the Court will
not reduce the lodestar simply because it did not reach the
due process claims.
Excessive or ...