Court Awards Owners $86,000+ For Attorneys’ Fees

This case involved claims of discrimination made by a group of Orthodox Jewish homeowner members (“Owners”) against their homeowners’ association (“Association”). Owners filed a lawsuit against Association alleging that it took various actions that targeted Owners and other Jewish members of Association that were based on Owners’ Orthodox Jewish identity in violation of the Federal Fair Housing Act (“FHA”). After the suit was filed the parties entered into a settlement agreement in the form of a Court-ordered Consent Decree which did not contain any language relative to attorney fees that had been incurred by the parties.

After the Consent Decree was entered by the Court, Owners filed a motion seeking an award of $86,318.90 in attorneys’ fees that had allegedly been incurred in connection with the case. In the motion, Owners argued that they were entitled to an award of their attorneys’ fees and costs because the settlement agreement entitled them the status of a “prevailing party” under the FHA.

In response to the motion, Association contended that Owners were not entitled to recover their fees and costs because the Consent Decree settled all claims, and thereby implicitly waived Owners’ right to fees, even if they were to be considered the prevailing party.

The Court ruled that: (i) parties can achieve the status of a “prevailing party” in a settlement if “they succeed on any significant issue in litigation which achieves some of the benefits the parties sought in bringing suit;” (ii) to establish success, there had to be

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