Thursday, November 14, 2013

West Virginia University Hospital Inc. v. Casey case brief

West Virginia University Hospital Inc. v. Casey case brief summary
499 U.S. 83 (1991)


CASE SYNOPSIS: Petitioner university hospitals filed a petition for a writ of certiorari from the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit concerning whether fees for services rendered by experts in civil rights litigation could be shifted to the losing party pursuant to 42 U.S.C.S. § 1988, which permitted the award of a reasonable attorney's fee.

CASE FACTS: Petitioner treated numerous patients from a neighboring state's Medicaid program. Petitioner had unsuccessfully objected to new reimbursement rates for these patients. Petitioner filed an action against respondent governor and various officials of the neighboring state under 42 U.S.C.S. § 1983. Petitioner was successful in the district court and was awarded fees pursuant to 42 U.S.C.S. § 1988 to include fees for experts. Respondents appealed the judgment on the merits and the fee award.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY
The appeals court affirmed as to the judgment on the merits and reversed as to the fee award portion concerning expert fees disallowing those unless they were within a $ 30-per-day fees for witnesses prescribed by 28 U.S.C.S. § 1821. Petitioner further sought review. 

DISCUSSION
  • The court examined various federal statutes that awarded fees and sought to ascertain whether expert fees were part of attorney's fees. 
  • The court concluded that attorney's fees and expert fees were distinct items of expense and that 42 U.S.C.S. § 1988 gave no authority to shift expert fees, as experts were eligible for limited fees per 28 U.S.C.S. §§ 1920 and 1821. The court affirmed the appeals court judgment.
CONCLUSION: The judgment of the appeals court was affirmed. The court concluded that attorney's fees and expert fees were distinct items of expense.

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