Federal Court Awards Attorney’s Fees to McGuireWoods Client RHJ Medical Center in Lawsuit Against City of DuBois, Pa.

August 18, 2014

A federal judge has ordered the City of DuBois to pay more than $270,000 in attorney’s fees and litigation costs incurred by McGuireWoods LLP in representing client RHJ Medical Center Inc. in its successful challenge of the Pennsylvania municipality’s zoning ordinance that unlawfully prevented RHJ from opening a methadone treatment facility in Clearfield County.

McGuireWoods provided pro bono representation to RHJ in the case. The fees in excess of those paid by RHJ will be donated to the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia (PILCOP), which referred the case to McGuireWoods and assisted in the representation. PILCOP represents vulnerable populations in combating discriminatory laws and policies.

“We are pleased with the court’s decision to award reasonable attorney’s fees to RHJ Medical Center,” said Matthew Monsour, an associate in McGuireWoods’ Pittsburgh office and pro bono lead counsel for RHJ. “We hope the award will help the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia advance its important work serving underrepresented populations.”

Judge Kim R. Gibson of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania issued the order Aug. 8, nearly two years after initially ruling that a City of DuBois zoning ordinance was unconstitutional under the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The city had enacted an ordinance that specifically restricted where drug treatment clinics, as opposed to all medical facilities, could locate. RHJ sued in May 2009, alleging that ordinance was not rationally related to any legitimate interest.

The 3rd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed Gibson’s ruling in April 2014 and sent the case back to the district court to take up RHJ’s motion for attorney’s fees. The court granted RHJ’s motion with modification, awarding more than $270,000 in attorneys’ fees and nearly $4,000 in litigation costs.

McGuireWoods pro bono partner Scott Oostdyk praised the firm’s lawyers who took on the case.

“It is critical for lawyers to step up and fight for those who can’t aid themselves,” Oostdyk said. “I am proud of Len Marsico, Matt Monsour, Brian Root and their team, not only for protecting the rights of patients, but also for re-investing their court-awarded fees, so justice can be earned in other matters elsewhere.”