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Blanchard v. Bergeron

United States Supreme Court
489 U.S. 87, 109 S.Ct. 939, 103 L.Ed.2d 67 (1989)



Arthur Blanchard (plaintiff) sued James Bergeron and the St. Martin Parish Sheriff’s Department (defendants) under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that Blanchard had been beaten by Bergeron, a sheriff’s deputy. The jury awarded Blanchard $5,000 in compensatory damages and $5,000 in punitive damages. Blanchard then sought to recover attorney’s fees under 42 U.S.C. § 1988. The trial court awarded $7,500 to Blanchard for attorney’s fees. Bergeron appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, which held that the attorney’s fees were capped by the contingency-fee agreement between Blanchard and his attorney. The agreement had provided for a contingency fee of 40 percent. The Fifth Circuit accordingly modified the award to 40 percent of $10,000, or $4,000. Blanchard petitioned the United States Supreme Court for review.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (White, J.)

Concurrence (Scalia, J.)

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