Attorney General Paxton has joined a Georgia-led amicus brief that is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to clarify the legal framework for when attorney’s fees are to be awarded to “prevailing parties” in civil lawsuits.  

Specifically, the amicus addresses the situation in which a party secures a preliminary injunction but not a final determination on the merits of the case it brought. This is of paramount importance to states, as state officials frequently are defendants in such cases. And, in many instances, a state may resolve a plaintiff’s concerns or legal challenges after the preliminary injunction has been issued, which moots the continuation of the case. 

The circuit courts have not provided clear guidance on whether to award attorney’s fees to plaintiffs in these situations, which is why the coalition is urging the Supreme Court to clear up this costly confusion. Doing so will help provide guidance to states on what legal steps will best protect taxpayer dollars.  

The amicus brief states: “If the state’s actions will expose it to a substantial fee award, the state needs to know that in advance so it can make an informed decision whether to press on with the lawsuit. Without clear rules to guide that decision, the States are left to gamble with public money. The amici States therefore urge this Court to step in and clear up this question so the States can make sound litigation and policy decisions on the public’s behalf.” 

To read the full amicus brief, click here.