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Shadis v. Beal

United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
685 F.2d 824 (1982)


Community Legal Services (CLS) is a federally funded, nonprofit corporation that contracted with the Pennsylvania Legal Services Center and the Department of Public Welfare to provide legal services to the poor. The contracts prohibited CLS from recovering attorney fees in any lawsuit against Pennsylvania (defendant). CLS brought a successful federal civil rights class action against Pennsylvania on behalf of medically needy individuals who were wrongfully denied or lost Medicaid benefits (plaintiffs). As the prevailing party, the class requested an award of fees for CLS as its counsel under the federal Civil Rights Attorney Fees Award Act. Pennsylvania objected on the ground that the contracts precluded CLS from seeking attorney fees in suits against the state. The trial court found the no-fee contract terms void because they contravened the public policy behind the act’s fee-shifting provisions and granted CLS its fees. Pennsylvania appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Hunter, J.)

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