Damages Only $1, But Lawyers Prevail and Get $34,772

, New York Law Journal


He reduced from 32 hours to 21.4 hours the time lead attorney Jonathan Scruggs sought for making the accounting of legal fees, for instance. The judge said the fee application was not "particularly novel" or contain "complex issues" to justify the higher amount.

The judge similarly reduced the hourly billings for Scruggs and the other attorneys in other aspects of the litigation as excessive.

Scruggs and two other ADF staff attorneys, Nathan Kellum and Philip Vecchio, won fees awards as did paralegal Michael Kane.

The judge's award also included $2,258 in costs sought by ADF.

The Alliance Defending Freedom was founded in 1994 by members of conservative Christian groups. The group, formerly known as the Alliance Defense Fund, states as its mission to "keep the door open for the spread of the Gospel by transforming the legal system and advocating for religious liberty, the sanctity of life and marriage and family" (NYLJ, Feb. 3, 2009).

In New York, the group successfully defended the plaintiffs in Good News Club v. Milford Central School District, 533 U.S. 98 (2001), a case that struck down a New York school district's denial of the use of a public school facility by a Christian group based on its religious message.

Scruggs said in an interview Tuesday that the fee awards will go to the group and not the employees personally.

But he said money was not the point of the litigation.

"It was about applying an unconstitutional policy to prevent someone from exercising their free-speech rights," Scruggs said "That was our major goal, to restore the rights of our plaintiff."

Scruggs said he had no doubt that the college changed its policy in 2011 in response to its pending suit.

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