The Idaho Supreme Court announced a new standard for an award of attorney fees under Idaho Code § 12-121. See Hoffer v. Shappard, 2016 Opinion No. 105 (Idaho Sept. 28, 2016). Section 12-121 reads: “In any civil action, the judge may award reasonable attorney’s fees to the prevailing party or parties, provided that this section shall not alter, repeal or amend any statute which otherwise provides for the award of attorney’s fees.” Since 1979, Idaho Rule of Civil Procedure 54(e)(2) has limited the Idaho courts’ discretion to award attorney fees under the statute to instances where a case was “brought, pursued or defended frivolously, unreasonably or without foundation.”
Not anymore. Under the standard announced in Hoffer, “prevailing parties in civil litigation have the right to be made whole for attorney fees they have incurred ‘when justice so requires.’” Id. at 20. The Court did not offer guidance on the meaning of “when justice so requires.” Because the new standard “may have profound effects on litigants,” it does not become effective until March 1, 2017. Id. at 21. But, notably, the new standard “will have prospective effect, applying to all cases that have not become final as of that date.” Id.
Continue Reading Idaho Supreme Court announces significant change to standard for attorney fees under Idaho Code § 12-121