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United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division
March 25, 2021, Decided; March 25, 2021, Filed
CIVIL ACTION H-19-4672
Memorandum Opinion and Order
On March 22, 2021, defendant Minnesota Life Insurance Company ("Minnesota Life") filed a motion for attorney's fees (Dkt. 43) under 29 U.S.C. § 1132(g)(1), which allows the court to award attorney's fees "in its discretion." 29 U.S.C. § 1132(g)(1). Having considered the motion and the applicable law, the court is of the opinion that Minnesota Life's motion for attorney's fees should be DENIED.
An award of attorney's fees is "purely discretionary," but the court is required to explain its decision to deny attorney's fees. N. Cypress Med. Ctr. Operating Co., Ltd. v. Aetna Life Ins. Co., 898 F.3d 461, 485 (5th Cir. 2018) (quoting Todd v. AIG Life Ins. Co., 47 F.3d 1448, 1458 (5th Cir. 1995)). A claimant "must show 'some degree [*2] of success on the merits' before a court may award attorney's fees." Hardt v. Reliance Standard Life Ins. Co., 560 U.S. 242, 255, 130 S. Ct. 2149, 176 L. Ed. 2d 998 (2010) (quoting Ruckelshaus v. Sierra Club, 463 U.S. 680, 694, 103 S. Ct. 3274, 77 L. Ed. 2d 938 (1983)). A claimant satisfies that requirement "if the court can fairly call the outcome of the litigation some success on the merits without conducting a lengthy inquiry into the question whether a particular party's success was substantial or occurred on a central issue." Id. (cleaned up). In deciding whether to award attorney's fees, the court may, but is not required to, weigh the following five factors in Bowen:
(1) the degree of the opposing parties' culpability or bad faith; (2) the ability of the opposing parties to satisfy an award of attorneys' fees; (3) whether an award of attorneys' fees against the opposing parties would deter other persons acting under similar circumstances; (4) whether the parties requesting attorneys' fees sought to benefit all participants and beneficiaries of an ERISA plan or to resolve a significant legal question regarding ERISA itself; and (5) the relative merits of the parties' positions.
Full case includes Shepard's, Headnotes, Legal Analytics from Lex Machina, and more.
2021 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 56803 *; 2021 WL 1141171
SYDNEY JAE GRAY, Plaintiff, v. MINNESOTA LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant.
Prior History: Gray v. Minn. Life Ins. Co., 2021 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 42355, 2021 WL 861298 (S.D. Tex., Mar. 8, 2021)
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