No damages = no injunction = no fees. (UPDATED)

chopperDan Peterson sued his former employer, Bell Helicopter Textron, for age discrimination under the TCHRA. The jury found that age was a motivating factor in his termination, but also found that Bell would have terminated him even without consideration of his age.  The district court awarded no damages, but imposed an injunction on Bell about future age discrimination, and awarded Peterson attorneys fees of approximately $340,000.  The Fifth Circuit reversed.  Noting that the TCHRA allowed an injunction even in light of the unfavorable causation finding, the Court found that plaintiff’s request came too late, as Fed. R. Civ. P. 54(c) “assumes that a plaintiff’s entitlement to relief not specifically pled has been tested adversarially, tried by consent, or at least developed with meaningful notice to the defendant.”  Here, Bell showed that it would have tried the case differently had it known an injunction was at issue.  Accordingly, the fee award was also vacated. Peterson v. Bell Helicopter Textron, Inc., No. 14-10249 (June 4, 2015).  A revised opinion honed the opinion’s analysis as to a potential alternative ground of fee recovery; the same day it issued, the full Court denied en banc review over a lengthy dissent.

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