Professor Niki Kuckes discusses Rhode Island ruling that affidavits or expert testimony supporting counsel fee motion must come from lawyer not involved in case.

Upcoming Events

Law Alumni Holiday Reception
DEC
05
5:30 pm - 7:30 pm
Citizens Plaza Rotunda
Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration Keynote Address
JAN
18
4:00 pm - 5:30 pm
RWU Law | Bristol Campus
Champions for Justice
JAN
26
6:00 pm - 9:30 pm
Omni Providence Hotel
25th Annual Barrister's Ball
FEB
24
6:00 pm - 11:00 pm
Omni Providence Hotel, Providence, Rhode Island
Law Alumni United States Supreme Court Swearing-In Ceremony
FEB
28
8:00 am - 12:30 pm
U.S. Supreme Court, Washington, DC

Trending@RWULaw

11/14/2017
By David Coombs
[RWU Law Professor, veteran and military law expert David Coombs offered the following remarks during Veterans Day observances at Roger Williams University on November 10. The address has been...


Affordable Excellence at RWU LAW

Archives

Newsroom

Kuckes on Legal Fees Ruling

Professor Niki Kuckes discusses Rhode Island ruling that affidavits or expert testimony supporting counsel fee motion must come from lawyer not involved in case.

From Rhode Island Lawyers Weekly:Bar: ruling on fee motions to add expense, complexity” by Sheri Qualters

Legal feesJuly 20, 2016: A recent state Supreme Court decision finding that affidavits or testimony supporting counsel fee motions should come from a Rhode Island bar member who is not part of the case brings clarity and consistency to the process but also makes it more costly and complicated, practitioners say.

The Supreme Court vacated Superior Court Judge Bennett R. Gallo’s decision to award plaintiff Tri-Town Construction Co. $43,227.25 in attorneys’ fees in a case involving a loan for a real estate development deal. In remanding the plaintiff’s case against developer Commerce Park Associates 12 LL and manager Nicholas E. Cambio, the court directed Gallo to consider the testimony or affidavit of an independent lawyer about the reasonableness and necessity of Tri-Town’s fees.

Professor Niki Kuckes[…] The opinion, which cites Florida and Vermont case law, places Rhode Island on the restrictive end of the spectrum in terms of how much leeway judges have to evaluate fee applications, said Niki Kuckes, a professor at Roger Williams University School of Law who has studied counsel fees.

Litigants would not need expert testimony in a comparable case in Rhode Island federal court, according to 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals standards, she said.

“Rhode Island has taken the view that that’s not proper for the judge to bring his or her own expertise to bear,” Kuckes said. “Other jurisdictions say it is proper.”

[…] The requirement for an expert opinion about a fee application increases the likelihood that an opposing party will hire its own expert to weigh in, which would add an additional layer of complexity to the process, Kuckes said.

“[The rule] is not appropriate to every occasion in which fees are sought. It can be appropriate for a very large, complex case that spans a number of years, but not necessarily for a small, routine contract dispute,” she said.

For full story, click here.