SC Statutory Fees Include Appellate Fees

South Carolina statutes granting attorney fees include fees for work on appeal and after a remand. And after remand, the trial court may grant statutory appellate fees even if the appellate court earlier denied a Rule 222, SCACR, motion for the standard appellate fee.

Austin v. Stokes-Craven Holding Corp., Op. No. 27324 (S.C.Sup.Ct. filed October 23, 2013) (Shearouse Ad.Sh. 45 at 25), is the case. There the plaintiff won on a statutory claim that grants  “the cost of suit, including a reasonable attorney’s fee.” In the first appeal, the South Carolina Supreme Court affirmed the judgment on the statutory claim, held that Austin was entitled to the entire amount requested for statutory attorney fees for the trial work, and remanded for entry of a judgment consistent with its opinion.

Austin then moved under Rule 222, SCACR, for the Supreme Court to grant him the standard $1000 appellate fee and for costs incurred on appeal. He also moved the Supreme Court to award him additional statutory fees for the appellate work. The Court summarily denied the Rule 222 motion, apparently without addressing statutory fees.

After remand, Austin moved the trial court for fees incurred on appeal and after remand. On the second appeal, Justice Donald Beatty held for the Court:

  • Justice Donald Beatty

    Justice Donald Beatty

    statutory attorney fees include fees for work on appeal and after remand

  • after remand trial courts have jurisdiction to rule on motions for statutory attorney fees incurred for the trial, for the appeal, and after the appeal’s remand
  • the Supreme Court’s denial of a Rule 222 motion for the standard appellate fee does not prevent trial courts from awarding statutory  fees for the appellate work.

On this last point, the Supreme Court reasoned that its discretionary authority to deny fees under Rule 222 does not limit the trial court’s authority to award fees under a statute. It drew an analogy to earlier decisions that awarding the Rule 222 fee does not prevent an award of additional statutory fees for the appeal, and that a waiver of the Rule 222 fee does not waive the right to seek statutory fees for the appeal.

An earlier post describes the mechanics of a Rule 222 motion.  Austin provides another, independent basis to recoup appellate fees by statute.

Thoughts?

 

 

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