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Marek v. Chesny

United States Supreme Court
473 U.S. 1 (1985)


Facts

Three police officers, including Chesny (defendant), shot and killed Marek while responding to a domestic disturbance. Marek’s father (plaintiff) filed suit against the officers, alleging a violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and state tort law. Before trial, the officers put forward a settlement offer for $100,000, including costs and attorneys fees. Mr. Marek rejected the offer and proceeded to trial, where he was awarded $60,000 total in damages. Post-trial, Mr. Marek filed a request for $171,692.47 in costs and attorneys fees. The officers opposed the request, arguing that the pretrial offer of $100,000 exceeded the trial award of $60,000 and therefore under F.R.Civ.Pro. 68, Mr. Marek was not entitled to attorneys fees. The trial court agreed with the officers, and Mr. Marek appealed. The court of appeals reversed, finding that imposing Rule 68 in instances where attorneys fees might normally be awarded pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1988 would be contrary to the civil rights spirit of § 1983 and § 1988. The officers appealed, and the United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Burger, C.J.)

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Concurrence (Rehnquist, J.)

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Concurrence (Powell, J.)

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Dissent (Brennan, J.)

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