Trial Court Properly Waited to Rule on Fee Petition

Purcell v. Thomas, Nos. 09-CV-501 & 10-CV-485 (D.C. Sept. 29, 2011).

In Purcell v. Thomas, Nos. 09-CV-501 & 10-CV-485 (D.C. Sept. 29, 2011), the D.C. Court of Appeals held that the trial court acted properly in waiting until after an appeal on the merits (in which the first appeal affirmed the judgment in employee's favor on her DCHRA claims) to decide the employee's long-pending motion for attorney's fees and costs.

The Court of Appeals rejected the employer's odd argument that the trial court somehow no longer had jurisdiction, or that the passage of time since the verdict meant that the employee could no longer seek fees. Here, the jury award was $165,000 (June 2003), which the Court of Appeals affirmed on June 2007. The trial court then awarded $590,807 to the employee for attorney's fees and costs (March 2009).

However, the Court of Appeals rejected the employee's argument on her cross-appeal that the supersedeas bond posted by the employer on appeal should also be used to cover part of the attorney's fees, since the wording of the bond limited it to the judgment, statutory post-judgment interest, and certain costs, for a total of $212,742 which was paid in April 2010. Evidently the employee wanted to use the balance of the supersedeas bond to collect on her attorney's fee award. The employee will now have to see if the employer or its insurance company can pay the attorney's fees and costs, including additional fees/costs arising from the second appeal.

The decision is available online at,

– submitted by Alan R. Kabat