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Lavin v. Husted

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit

September 4, 2014

ARTHUR LAVIN; JASON CHAO; MICHAEL W. DEVEREAUX; PATRICIA J. KELLNER; JEROME LIEBMAN; ERIC R. SCHREIBER; CONSTANCE D. MARGOULIAS; PETER A. DEGOLIA; NATHAN A. BEACHY, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
v.
JON HUSTED, in his official capacity as Ohio Secretary of State, Defendant-Appellee

Argued: June 18, 2014.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio at Cleveland. No. 1:10-cv-01986--Donald C. Nugent, District Judge.

Page 647

ARGUED:

Subodh Chandra, THE CHANDRA LAW FIRM, LLC, Cleveland, Ohio, for Appellants.

Kristopher J. Armstrong, OFFICE OF THE OHIO ATTORNEY GENERAL, Columbus, Ohio, for Appellee.

ON BRIEF:

Subodh Chandra, Donald P. Screen, Sandhya Gupta, Ashlie Case Sletvold, THE CHANDRA LAW FIRM, LLC, Cleveland, Ohio, for Appellants.

Richard N. Coglianese, Ryan L. Richardson, OFFICE OF THE OHIO ATTORNEY GENERAL, Columbus, Ohio, for Appellee.

Jennifer L. Branch, Alphonse A. Gerhardstein, GERHARDSTEIN & BRANCH CO. LPA, Cincinnati, Ohio, for Amici Curiae.

Before: SILER, GILMAN, and GIBBONS, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

JULIA SMITH GIBBONS, Circuit Judge.

After two years of litigation, including one previous trip to this court, plaintiffs appeal the district court's award of attorneys' fees under 42 U.S.C. § 1988. Specifically, plaintiffs appeal the district court's reduction of their fees, arguing that it abused its discretion by relying on several considerations irrelevant to, and inconsistent with, the § 1988 inquiry. Plaintiffs also contend that the district court's language was antagonistic and shows that the court was biased against them. Plaintiffs therefore ask for reassignment on remand. For the following reasons, we vacate the district court's award of attorneys' fees and remand for recalculation of fees before a different district judge.

Page 648

I.

Plaintiffs are physicians and Ohio Medicaid providers who wanted to support various candidates running for Ohio Attorney General and Cuyahoga County Prosecutor in the 2010 election, but were barred from doing so by an Ohio statute. See Ohio Rev. Code ยง 3599.45 (limiting campaign contributions from Medicaid providers). They sued in federal court, arguing ...


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