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Parties Need not be "Prevailing" for ERISA Attorney's Fees Award

By FindLaw Staff on May 24, 2010 2:31 PM

Hardt v. Reliance Std. Life Ins. Co., No. 09-448, involved an action alleging that defendant violated the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) by wrongfully denying her benefits claim.  The Court reversed the Fourth Circuit's order vacating the district court's award of attorney's fees to plaintiff, holding that: 1) a fee claimant need not be a "prevailing party" to be eligible for an attorney's fees award under 29 U.S.C. section 1132(g)(1); and 2) a court may award fees and costs under section 1132(g)(1), as long as the fee claimant has achieved some degree of success on the merits.

As the Court wrote:  "1) a fee claimant need not be a "prevailing party" to be eligible for an attorney's fees award under 29 U.S.C. section 1132(g)(1); and 2) a court may award fees and costs under section 1132(g)(1), as long as the fee claimant has achieved some degree of success on the merits."

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