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Attorneys' Fees in Michigan Wine Case

Michigan and several other states had laws that discriminated against out-of-state wineries.  Several plaintiffs sued under 42 U.S.C. 1983.  Rather than settle, Michigan vigorously defended its special-interest legislation.  After six years of legal warfare, the Supreme Court ruled against Michigan in Granholm v. Heald.

The plaintiffs are now seeking legal fees.  Under 42 U.S.C. 1988, a prevailing plaintiff in a Section 1983 action is entitled to recover reasonable legal fees.  Michigan taxpayers are now potentially on the hook for $1.3 million in legal fees, including fees for some of the big guns brought in to attack the legislation at the Supreme Court level.  Interestingly, Ken Starr is only billing $500 an hour for his time.  I  suspect that someone with his talent and experience bills his private clients significantly more for his time.  Kathleen Sullivan is seeking $57,000 in legal fees, and Starr's former co-counsel in numerous Supreme Court cases (Kannon Shanmugam - who I think is now at the Solicitor General's Office) billed $22,000.  Top talent costs a lot of money.

Incredibly (or not) Michigan has enacted yet another discriminatory law, and thus Michigan taxpayers might face another huge legal bill.

(Hat tip: How Appealing)