Administrative Law

Editor:
Daniel R.E. Jordan, Esquire

Attorney fees awarded but limited. Baker v. Department of Mental Health for the State of Missouri, No. 75423 (Mo. App. W.D., June 25, 2013) Ellis, P.J.

Statutes provide award to prevailing party when agency’s action lacked substantial justification. Statute limits amount of award to $75 per hour subject to exceptions. Evidence showed practical need for lawyer in multi-stage litigation, scarcity of lawyers willing to take related criminal action, and factual complexity of administrative case.

Held:
No exception to cap on those facts because they do not per se show scarcity of lawyers willing to take administrative case.  

Prevailing party includes one who prevails on judicial review.  Substantial justification requires sound basis in law and fact. Agency's intentions and efforts are not determinative, and so are not indispensable in analysis or findings of fact. Remanded to determine award for work on appeal.