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City of Burlington v. Dague

505 U.S. 557 (1992)

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City of Burlington v. Dague

United States Supreme Court

505 U.S. 557 (1992)

Facts

Ernest Dague, Sr. (plaintiff) sued the city of Burlington (defendant) for violations of the Solid Waste Disposal Act and Clean Water Act while operating a landfill near Dague’s land. Dague’s attorneys represented him on a contingency-fee basis. Dague was successful in court, and the statutes permitted Dague to request his attorney’s fees as damages. Dague therefore requested a lodestar amount representing his attorneys’ hourly rates multiplied by the number of hours the attorneys spent on the case. Dague also requested a contingency enhancement of an additional 25 percent of the lodestar to account for the risk his attorneys took by accepting his case. The district court granted the request for the contingency enhancement, reasoning that without the enhancement the case’s risk level would have prevented most attorneys from taking Dague’s case. The court of appeals affirmed, and the Supreme Court granted certiorari to address whether a contingency enhancement is permitted.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Scalia, J.)

Dissent (O’Connor, J.)

Dissent (Blackmun, J.)

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