A Supreme Court ruling in a case brought by an assisted-living home doesn't offer much assistance to civil rights lawyers. The ruling in Buckhannon Board & Care Home v. West Virginia will frustrate plaintiffs' efforts to recover attorney fees in litigation to vindicate important societal values such as the prevention of discrimination. But it shouldn't come as a big surprise. Buckhannon is only the most recent of numerous High Court decisions since the 1980s that can complicate attempts by plaintiffs lawyers to secure attorney's fees.
Margaret Sanner & Carl Tobias, Shifting Winds: Court Whittles Away at Plaintiffs' Recovery of Attorney Fees, A.B.A.J., Sept. 2001, at 43