Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri, Inc. v. Lyskowski

United States District Court, W.D. Missouri

August 1, 2016



          NANETTE K. LAUGHREY United States District Judge

         Pending 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.

         I. Background

         In 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.

         II. Discussion

         A. PPKM’s Motion for Attorneys’ Fees

         Following 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.[1]

         In 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)).

         1. PPKM’s Success on the Merits

         DHSS 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.

         While 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.

         DHSS 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.

         The 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.

         2. Excessive or ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.