Attorneys' Fees

Most statutes that prohibit discrimination on the basis of a disability were written with the express understanding that a prevailing party would recover reasonable attorney’s fees and litigation expenses incurred.  This is commonly referred to a 'fee shifting' provision. Where a plaintiff has brought a meritorious claim, either through a court order, court sanctioned settlement agreement or private settlement agreement, the defendant will likely be required to pay to the plaintiff reasonable attorney’s fees and costs incurred during the litigation. 

It has long been recognized in the area of civil rights litigation that the parties bringing the suits are not wealthy individuals and without the resources to bear the cost of the litigation.  Since the purpose for which many of these lawsuits are brought is to bring about social change rather than monetary damages, without a fee shifting provision, Congress understood that most aggrieved citizens would be unable to enforce their rights and the law’s effectiveness would be rendered bald and toothless.  The legislative history of the statute points to specific findings that people with disabilities were essentially unable to leave their homes due to a lack of accessibility in their community and at the workplace.  The enactment of the ADA sought to remedy this situation and create a society where each and every person could be a contributing member of society. 

Accordingly, it is important for business and property owners and operators keep in mind that when faced with a meritorious lawsuit, there is the very real potential that in addition to paying for the changes to the property, or monetary damages, paying their own attorney’s and costs, that they will also be responsible for the payment of the plaintiff’s reasonable attorney’s fees and costs.  Attorneys who are not experienced in defending claims brought under the ADA often will unnecessarily increase the costs and expenses of their client.  As attorneys who are experienced in representing both plaintiffs and defendants, we provide the experience to manage the defense of an ADA claim in a way that is both practical and cost effective. 

If you are a property or business owner or operator, and have been sued or merely have a question regarding compliance with disability civil rights laws, then please email or telephone us to schedule an appointment.

Maxwell & Barke LLC
51 Monroe Place, Suite 806, Rockville, Maryland 20850
Telephone 301.309.8300   Telecopier 301.309.8303
Adjacent to Montgomery County Courthouse  |  Across from Rockville Metro Station