No fee award to successful defendants

The appellants in Texas Medical Providers v. Lakey sought $60,000 in attorneys fees after successful defense of civil rights claims about new abortion laws.  No. 12-50291 (Feb. 26, 2013, unpublished).  The Fifth Circuit rejected a request based on 42 U.S.C. § 1988, noting: “Lack of merit does not equate to frivolity . . . .”  The Court also rejected a request based on inherent power, which relied upon statements by plaintiff’s counsel that they dismissed several challenges because the initial Fifth Circuit panel had declared all future appeals in the case would be heard by the same panel.  It stated: “The short answer to this charge is that if courts treated as a willful abuse of process every self-serving statement of counsel at the expense of a judge or judges, there would be no end to sanctions motions.”

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