Missouri v. Jenkins

491 U.S. 274 (1989)

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Missouri v. Jenkins

United States Supreme Court
491 U.S. 274 (1989)

  • Written by Sharon Feldman, JD

Facts

A class action was bought seeking desegregation of the schools in the Kansas City, Missouri, metropolitan area. The district court found the state of Missouri (state) (defendant) and the Kansas City Missouri School District (KCMSD) (defendant) liable for causing and perpetuating a racially segregated school system. Lawyers for the class (plaintiffs) requested attorney’s fees under the Civil Rights Attorney’s Fees Awards Act of 1976, 42 U.S.C. § 1988 (CRAFA). Missouri argued that the work of paralegals and law clerks should be compensated at an hourly rate of $15, which corresponded to these employees’ salaries, benefits, and overhead, rather than at the market rates of $35 to $50. The court awarded fees for the attorneys’ paralegals and law clerks based on current Kansas City market rates rather than on what the attorneys actually paid the paralegals and law clerks. The court of appeals affirmed the fee award. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari in part to resolve whether a fee award under the CRAFA should compensate the work of paralegals and law clerks at the market rate for their work rather than their cost to the attorney. Missouri argued that the work of paralegals and law clerks should be compensated at an hourly rate of $15, which corresponded to those employees’ salaries, benefits, and overhead, and that authorizing the billing of paralegals’ and law clerks’ hours at market rates produced a windfall for the attorneys.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Brennan, J.)

Concurrence/Dissent (O’Connor, J.)

Dissent (Rehnquist, C.J.)

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