U.S. Supreme Court To Address Whether Prevailing Party Wins Paralegal Fees At Billed Market Rate Rather Than At Cost

The U.S. Supreme Court has granted certiorari in Richlin Security Service Co. v. Chertoff, No. 06-1717 (cert. granted Nov. 13, 2007).

Plaintiff successfully pursued a claim in the Department of Transportation Board of Contract Appeals, and received an award as prevailing party under the Equal Access to Justice Act. However, the Board considered paralegal fees to be counsel’s expenses, reimbursable at cost rather than at the market rates at which the attorney billed his or her clients. The Federal Circuit affirmed, finding that “EAJA only permits reimbursement for paralegal services at cost.” Richlin Security Service Co. v. Chertoff, 472 F.3d 1370 (Fed. Cir. 2007).

The dissent argued that the majority’s holding was at odds with established Supreme Court and Federal Circuit precedent. In addition, the certiorari petition argued that the holding below contradicted the law of four other circuits.