“United States: Supreme Court Finds that Party Need Not "Prevail" on Merits to be Awarded Attorney’s Fees Under ERISA,” Mondaq
July 8, 2010
Arthur F. Woodard, Partner and Chair of the Employee Benefits group, authored an article in the July 8, 2010 issue of Mondaq titled “United States: Supreme Court Finds that Party Need Not "Prevail" on Merits to be Awarded Attorney’s Fees Under ERISA.” On May 24, 2010, a unanimous Supreme Court held that, under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 ("ERISA"), a party need not "prevail" in a litigation to be awarded attorney's fees, but must only achieve "some degree of success on the merits." Hardt v. Reliance Standard Life Insurance Co., No. 09-448 (May 24, 2010). The decision can be seen as a victory for aggrieved parties under ERISA who might have been deterred from bringing suit if they could not recover attorney's fees without prevailing. Mr. Woodard’s article discusses the benefits of the decision, but how it may also can be seen as a slight reduction in the discretion afforded courts in approving fees under ERISA.