The usual rule in the United States concerning recovery of attorney’s fees in litigation provides that each party pay for their own fees, whether they win or lose, unless the parties agree otherwise or a statute provides otherwise.
One such statutory exception under Idaho Code Section 12-120(3) provides that a prevailing party is entitled to attorney’s fees in any case involving a “commercial transaction.”
What happens then, when a plaintiff claims at trial that there was a commercial transaction, but the jury concludes there was no commercial transaction and thus the defendant prevails?
A recent Idaho Supreme Court case, Garner v. Povey, held that because plaintiff claimed the parties entered into a commercial transaction, even though the defendant ultimately prevailed based on the jury’s finding that no commercial transaction existed, the plaintiff must still pay the defendant’s attorney fees under I.C.§ 12-120(3).
The Court reasoned that the alleged commercial transaction was integral to plaintiff’s claims, was the basis on which plaintiff attempted to recover and was specifically pleaded as the gravamen of plaintiff’s lawsuit. Therefore, plaintiff’s allegations triggered application of the statute, regardless of the ultimate finding that no commercial transaction existed.
This article is for general informational purposes only, it is neither legal advice, nor is it intended to be legal advice; and it is not an exclusive statement of statutory or regulatory provisions or case law. Any questions should be submitted to an attorney for his/her analysis.