Johnson v. Liberty Life Assurance Company of Boston
ORDER that Defendant's 33 Motion for Attorneys' Fees and Costs is DENIED as further set out in the order. Signed by Honorable Judge W. Harold Albritton, III on 5/18/2015. (dmn, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
) Civil Action No. 2:13cv916-WHA
LIBERTY LIFE ASSURANCE COMPANY)
This cause is before the court on the Defendant’s Motion for Attorneys’ Fees and Costs
ERISA provides that in an action “by a participant, beneficiary, or fiduciary, the court in
its discretion may allow a reasonable attorney's fee and costs of action to either party.” 29 U.S.C.
§ 1132(g)(1). District courts consider five factors in determining whether to award attorney’s
fees: (1) the degree of the opposing parties' culpability or bad faith; (2) the ability of the
opposing parties to satisfy an award of attorney’s fees; (3) whether an award of fees against the
opposing party would deter other persons acting under similar circumstances; (4) whether the
parties requesting 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. Byars v. Coca-Cola Co., 517 F.3d 1256, 1268 (11th Cir. 2008). Courts must
also “bear in mind ERISA's essential remedial purpose: to protect the beneficiaries of [employee
benefit] plans. Adherence to this policy often counsels against charging fees against ERISA
beneficiaries since private actions by beneficiaries seeking in good faith to secure their rights
under employee benefit plans are important mechanisms for furthering ERISA's remedial
purpose.” Nachwalter v. Christie, 805 F.2d 956, 962 (11th Cir.1986) (citation omitted).
The court has considered the motion, the submissions in favor of the motion, and the
entire record in this case before it. Applying all of the relevant factors, the court declines to
exercise its discretion to award attorneys’s fees and costs in this case. Accordingly, the Motion
for Attorneys’ Fees and Costs is hereby ORDERED DENIED.
Done this 18th day of May, 2015.
/s/ W. Harold Albritton
W. HAROLD ALBRITTON
SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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