United States Supreme Court
448 U.S. 1 (1980)
Lionel and Joline Thiboutot (plaintiffs) were married and had eight children, three of which were Lionel’s from a prior marriage. The couple sued the state of Maine and its Commissioner of Human Services (defendants) after the state notified the couple that the welfare benefits for Lionel’s three children would decrease, because the calculation of benefits would no longer involve an allowance for the money spent on the other five children. The complaint was brought in the Maine Superior Court and alleged deprivation of welfare benefits under the federal Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 602(a)(7), and a civil rights violation under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for themselves and others similarly situated. The Thiboutots also claimed attorney’s fees under the Civil Rights Attorney’s Fees Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1988. The trial court awarded retroactive benefits to the Thiboutots and all eligible class members and enjoined enforcement of the challenged rule. The court, however, did not award attorney’s fees. The state did not appeal, but the Thiboutots appealed the fee ruling. The Supreme Judicial Court of Maine held that the Thiboutots were not entitled to attorney’s fees under state law, but were entitled to fees under 42 U.S.C. § 1988. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Brennan, J.)
Dissent (Powell, J.)
What to do next…
Unlock this case brief with a free (no-commitment) trial membership of Quimbee.
You’ll be in good company: Quimbee is one of the most widely used and trusted sites for law students, serving more than 97,000 law students since 2011. Some law schools—such as Yale, Vanderbilt, Berkeley, and the University of Illinois—even subscribe directly to Quimbee for all their law students. Read our student testimonials.
Learn more about Quimbee’s unique (and proven) approach to achieving great grades at law school.
Quimbee is a company hell-bent on one thing: helping you get an “A” in every course you take in law school, so you can graduate at the top of your class and get a high-paying law job. We’re not just a study aid for law students; we’re the study aid for law students. Read more about Quimbee.
Here's why 220,000 law students have relied on our case briefs:
- Written by law professors and practitioners, not other law students. 14,100 briefs, keyed to 189 casebooks. Top-notch customer support.
- The right amount of information, includes the facts, issues, rule of law, holding and reasoning, and any concurrences and dissents.
- Access in your classes, works on your mobile and tablet. Massive library of related video lessons and high quality multiple-choice questions.
- Easy to use, uniform format for every case brief. Written in plain English, not in legalese. Our briefs summarize and simplify; they don’t just repeat the court’s language.