Robertson v. Giuliani

346 F.3d 75 (2nd Cir. 2003)


Ps filed a § 1983 class action against Giuliani et al. (Ds). Ps challenged Ds' policies regarding the disposition of applications for food stamps, Medicaid and public assistance benefits based on recommendations of the Eligibility Verification Review ('EVR') Offices of the New York City Human Resources Administration ('HRA'). Ds were granted summary judgment on Ps' first claim, which alleged that D's system for investigating joint applications for food stamps and public assistance violated federal law. The parties entered into a settlement agreement that resolved the remaining six claims. Ds denied any liability arising out of the' allegations but agreed to various changes in the way future benefits claims would be handled. The settlement also provided it would not be effective without a provision for the court retaining jurisdiction over enforcement. In addition, the Agreement provided, 'The issue of plaintiffs' entitlement to an award of attorneys' fees and costs and disbursements is reserved for later determination upon application to the Court....' When dismissed the order also provided for the Court to retain jurisdiction of the enforcement. Ps then moved for $140,060.25 in attorney's fees and costs pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1988. Ds opposed the motion on the grounds that (1) Ps were not prevailing parties in the underlying action and (2) even if considered prevailing parties, Ps' itemized account of fees included many non-compensable items. After examining Buckhannon, the district court denied Ps' motion on the ground that Ps were not prevailing parties under the standard announced by the Supreme Court in that case. This appeal followed.