“in most Western legal systems other than the United States, the prevailing norm is the English rule. The “English Rule for Attorney’s fees” is also known as “Loser Pays” which is contrasted to the “American Rule” where each party to the suit is responsible for it’s own fees. I’m not really interested in discussing the pros and cons of the two contrasting approaches to settling legal disputes. Inevitably such discussions end up in a fierce political fight about as desperate as a discussion of the existence of God between people on opposite sides of the fence.
What is interesting is that the article referred to in the title for this discussion thread points out that the 1980 Equal Access to Justice Act, or EAJA follows the English Rule if a small claimant or any non-profit claimant wins a case against the federal government but follows the American Rule if the claimant looses. This may not be news to many here but the article provides some interesting insights including:
1) “The act was passed in 1980 to help veterans with disabilities pursue claims against the federal government”
2) “Over the last five years the payments for legal challenges to the Forest Service have nearly doubled, costing the taxpayer over $38 million in 2015. EAJA is not benefiting average citizens as Congress had intended. Thirty-three-hundred lawsuits were filed by just 12 special interest groups from 2001 to 2011. During this time $37 million was awarded to special interest groups, including awards of attorney fees of $500-750 per hour, according to research by Wyoming attorney Karen Budd-Falen.” If I read that right the payments are rising exponentially with $37million paid out from 2001 through 2011 while 2015 alone cost $38million.
3) “No one counts the cost of jobs lost and families displaced after mills are forced to close due to lack of resources. Unfortunately, those folks do not have the same equal access to justice as these highly funded and financially motivated activist organizations.” I assume that the author is referring to the affected individuals not having the same access to the necessary up front money required to go to court on such a big issue as do the highly funded and financially motivated activist organizations.
4) “these EAJA payments come out of your Social Security Trust Fund”