Damages do not limit attorney fees

A standard argument made by defendants on the losing end of an attorney fee award is that the fees are disproportionate to the damages.  The Fifth District resoundingly rejected that complaint in Nichols v. City of Taft.

In addition to noting that the litigation was hard fought (in part due to the zealous representation of the defendant), the court rejected the idea that attorney fees were limited to the amount of the damages award.  As the court notes, “it is not uncommon for attorney fee awards to exceed compensatory damages” in employment discrimination cases.  The court also rejected the argument because the defendant had not backed up the claim with any “applicable California precedent.”

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