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AZ Supreme Court Sharpens Definition of “Substantially Prevailed”

By Heidi Culbertson
August 31, 2021
2 min read

The Arizona Supreme Court recently issued an opinion in the ACLU’s long-running public records case against the State. To be awarded attorneys’ fees in public record cases, a party needs to convince the judge that they “substantially prevailed.”

Last week, the unanimous court sharpened the definition of “substantially prevailed” by holding that a trial court judge must conduct a “comprehensive examination” of the dispute. In addition to considering success in obtaining records, the court may award fees based on a plaintiff’s success in “securing other relief concerning issues that were contested before litigation was initiated.”

Attorneys at Burg Simpson were asked how this decision might affect American Oversight’s (AO) public records case regarding the ongoing election audit of Maricopa County ballots should they ultimately prevail before the Arizona Supreme Court. Burg Simpson’s lawyers indicated that the court made it clear that a superior court judge has broad discretion to award fees in public records cases and AO has a better chance of getting fees now than it did before this decision.

About Burg Simpson

One of America’s foremost plaintiff trial firms, Burg Simpson Eldredge Hersh & Jardine,  has a reputation for fighting relentlessly and successfully for victims of negligence, malfeasance, malpractice, and abuse. Burg Simpson has secured more than $1 billion in verdicts, settlements, and judgments in practice areas spanning catastrophic personal injury, mass tort and class actions regarding gas explosions, dangerous pharmaceutical drugs and devices, medical malpractice, complex commercial and business litigation, construction defects, and workers’ compensation. The firm’s success has also included more than 200 recoveries in excess of $1 million.

Burg Simpson was founded in 1976 by distinguished American trial lawyer Michael Burg. Mr. Burg is an inductee in the Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame and a recipient of the Clarence Darrow Award. He has also been named to the 2016 RoundTable: America’s 50 Most Influential Trial Lawyers by The Trial Lawyer magazine; Law Week’s “Barrister’s Best” as “Best Civil Litigator”; and one of “America’s 50 Leading Trial Lawyers” by the U.S. Legal 500. Mr. Burg has also been recognized by Best Lawyers in America® and Super Lawyers®. Burg Simpson Eldredge Hersh & Jardine now has more than 70 lawyers and over 90 legal professionals. The firm is based in Colorado and has offices in Arizona, Florida, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, California, and Wyoming.

 

 

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