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DONOVAN v. LOCAL 6

April 3, 1986

RAYMOND J. DONOVAN, Secretary of Labor, Plaintiff and JAMES RICKS, Plaintiff-Intervenor
v.
LOCAL 6, WASHINGTON TEACHERS UNION, AFL-CIO, Defendant


Aubrey E. Robinson, Jr., Chief United States District Judge.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: ROBINSON, JR.

AUBREY E. ROBINSON, JR., CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

 For the Court's consideration is a petition for attorneys' fees and costs arising out of an action under the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959, as amended, 29 U.S.C. § 481 et seq. (LMRDA).

 I. BACKGROUND

 This action concerns the conduct of several elections held by the Washington Teachers' Union (WTU). The first of these, held on May 18, 1981, resulted in James Ricks, an unsuccessful candidate for President, filing an administrative complaint with the Secretary of Labor pursuant to 29 U.S.C. § 482(a). Finding numerous violations of the Act, the Secretary filed a complaint in this Court requesting that the election be nullified and a new election held. Ricks was permitted to intervene in the action. Two supervised rerun elections later, the Secretary finally certified the results over a challenge and an appeal by Ricks. Ricks' attorneys -- Oliver Denier Long, Kenneth Henley, John V. Long, and Patrick B. Shaw -- now seek fees and costs from WTU totalling $ 83,297,36.

 II. ANALYSIS

 The Court of Appeals for this Circuit has approved awarding attorneys' fees and costs to intervenors in Title IV suits under LMRDA. Usery v. Local No. 639, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, 177 U.S. App. D.C. 222, 543 F.2d 369 (D.C. Cir. 1976). The rationale of Usery is that Title IV cases are like other cases under LMRDA where "courts have uniformly applied a 'common benefit' analysis to award attorneys' fees to private litigants." Id. at 382.

 
'Fee-shifting' is particularly appropriate because of the clear match between the party assessed and the beneficiary of the litigation.

 Id. at 383.

 The key, then, to determining whether a particular case is appropriate for the award of fees is whether at each stage of the litigation the union received a common benefit. It is therefore the Court's first task to chart the course of the litigation from Ricks' initial complaint to his final appeal and determine at each point whether his attorneys rendered "material assistance to the Secretary and the court in the interest -- of the public and the union rank and file -- in union democracy." Id. at 384.

 A. STAGES OF THE LITIGATION

 1) Period Before the Secretary of Labor Filed Suit: April 1981 - November 1981

 In April, 1981, Ricks requested the law firm of Long, Henley & Long to represent him in this action. On Ricks' behalf the firm exhausted internal union remedies and filed a protest of the election with the Secretary of Labor. Defendant does not oppose the award of fees for this period and ...


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