Monday, May 08, 2006

D.C. Cir. Holds that IDEA Administrative Proceedings and Fee Suit Are One “Action” for Fee Cap Purposes

Per Kaseman v. District of Columbia, --- F.3d ----, 2006 WL 825016 (D.C. Cir. Mar. 31, 2006):
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) provides that a parent who successfully challenges the Act's implementation may be awarded reasonable attorneys' fees. However, the District of Columbia Appropriations Act, 2005, caps the District's payment of IDEA attorneys' fees at $4,000 per “action.” This case requires us to determine whether a judicial proceeding to recover attorneys' fees incurred in a prior IDEA administrative proceeding is a separate “action” from the prior proceeding or whether the administrative and judicial proceedings together comprise a single “action.” The district court held that the administrative and judicial proceedings qualify as separate “actions.” . . .

. . .

We . . . hold the term “action” in the fee cap provision of the 2005 appropriations act encompasses both administrative proceedings and subsequent fee requests brought in the district court by prevailing parties. An award of fees for the underlying educational dispute and an award of fees-on-fees are thus both subject to a single application of the fee cap. The judgment of the district court is therefore reversed.


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