Phelps-Roper v. Koster, No. 14-3058 (8th Cir. 2016)Annotate this Case
Plaintiff, a member of the Westboro Baptist Church, filed suit in 2006 against Missouri state and state officials after the Missouri General Assembly enacted statewide restrictions on pickets and protests near funerals and funeral processions. In 2014, Missouri appealed the statute at issue while plaintiff's Rule 59(e) motion remained pending in district court. In this appeal, plaintiff challenged the district court's adverse judgments on her due process claim as well as the court's award of attorneys' fees. The court vacated the district court's judgment on the due process claim and remanded with instructions to dismiss her claim as moot. In regard to the attorneys' fees, the court concluded that the district court's 2/14th calculation was an abuse of discretion because its arithmetically simplistic fee calculation did not accurately reflect her degree of success of her interrelated claims. Moreover, even if the court accepted the district court's basic mathematical approach, its 2/14th calculation is inaccurate because it did not address whether it counted consent judgments, mooted claims, and dismissed claims as prevailing, neutral, or unsuccessful claims. Accordingly, the court reversed the district court's award of attorneys' fees.