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Saturday, February 18, 2012

Important development regarding attorney fees in special education cases

In 2007, the 2nd Circuit decided Arbor Hill Concerned Citizens Neighborhood v. County of Albany. In Arbor Hill, the Court abandoned the use of the lodestar method for determination of attorney fee awards in favor of the “presumptively reasonable rate,” which was based upon a variety of factors including “the rate a paying client would be willing to pay.” Although not a special education case, its impact has been felt in the special education arena. The 2nd Circuit in Millea v. Metro-North Railroad Co. essentially abandoned Arbor Hill and reverted back to the lodestar approach. For an excellent discussion of the relevant cases and the policy issues underlying the decisions, see Attorney Fees: The Death of Arbor Hill.

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