Commercial Litigation and Arbitration

What Constitutes “Appearing” in an Action? Under FDCPA, Attorney’s Fees Are Awardable to a Prevailing Plaintiff’s Lawyer Who Was Not Admitted Even Pro Hac If Lawyer Did Not Appear Physically, Sign Papers or Serve as Exclusive Contact

Waite v VCG Clark Cnty. Collection Serv., LLC, 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 4934 (9th Cir. Mar. 26, 2015):

A prevailing plaintiff in an FDCPA action is entitled to an award of reasonable attorneys' fees. 15 U.S.C. § 1692k(a)(3). Where, as here, one of the plaintiff's attorneys was not admitted to practice in the forum district and did not seek pro hac vice admission, the plaintiff may still recover fees for work performed by that attorney so long as the attorney did not "appear" in the action. See Winterrowd v. Am. Gen. Annuity Ins. Co., 556 F.3d 815, 823 (9th Cir. 2009). An attorney who does not physically appear in court, [*2]  sign pleadings, or serve as the exclusive contact with the client or opposing counsel has not appeared. Id. at 825.

Note:  This could be relevant in situations where a suggestion is made that a lawyer’s failure to appear pro hac vice was improper.


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