Committee Reports

Amicus Brief: Solla v. Berlin (New York Court of Appeals)


The Committees on Civil Rights and Social Welfare Law filed a brief with the New York Court of Appeals in Solla v. Berlin. The case involves the issue of whether a litigant “substantially prevails,” and is thus entitled to attorney fees, under the State’s Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA) where the lawsuit indisputably prompted (i.e., catalyzed) the State’s voluntary corrective conduct, thereby mooting the suit by providing the relief that plaintiff sought, or must a litigant receive a favorable final judgment, order, or consent decree to substantially prevail. The brief argues that the failure to permit attorney fees in such cases would contravene the purpose of the EAJA by giving agencies a reason to force plaintiffs to pursue litigation rather than settle a matter. Furthermore, private attorneys and legal service programs would have little incentive (or ability) to take such cases and commit the necessary time and resources to induce agency corrective action if the agency can simply moot the proceeding by providing corrective action following the filing of an Article 78 petition.