Attorney Fees

$307 K Fee Is Price of Foot-Dragging

California has been burned by a “scorched-earth” approach to litigation over pay policies for inmates who work for private employers on prison grounds.

A California appeals court affirmed an award of $307,000 in attorney fees, in addition to nearly $1.5 million already awarded, for litigation over the state’s failure to comply with a stipulated injunction regarding a prison ballot measure, the Recorder reports.

“The state ignores that its own conduct has extended the litigation and substantially increased awardable fees,” the court wrote in its opinion (PDF). “As the [trial] court explained, ‘the state has in the history of this case, taken a scorched-earth, drag-your-feet … approach to the litigation where it has fought tooth and nail to avoid doing what it voluntarily agreed to do.’ “

The plaintiff had sued for the state’s failure to carry out Proposition 139, which required California to compel employers who hired inmates on prison grounds to pay wages comparable to the private sector. The stipulated injunction required the state to “make reasonable and good-faith efforts” to comply.

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