The opinion of the court was delivered by: CONSTANCE BAKER MOTLEY
On September 9, 1992, this court granted plaintiffs a temporary restraining order preventing the City University of New York (CUNY) from dismantling the John D. Calandra Italian American Institute (Calandra Institute) and demoting its Director, Dr. Scelsa. An evidentiary hearing was held from September 21, 1992, to October 6, 1992, on plaintiff's motion for a preliminary injunction. On November 18, 1992, this court granted plaintiff's motion and preliminarily enjoined defendants in Scelsa v. City University of New York, 806 F. Supp. 1126 (S.D.N.Y. 1992), familiarity with which is presumed.
Defendants appealed this court's granting of the preliminary injunction. While the appeal was pending defendants then sought instead a remand, seeking a rehearing from this court on the grounds of allegedly "new evidence." When this motion for a remand and rehearing was denied, defendants withdrew their appeal.
Plaintiff has since moved for attorneys' fees, arguing that as the prevailing party in a civil rights suit they enjoy a statutory entitlement to such fees.
FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
This suit has been prosecuted under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981, 1983, and Titles VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Consequently, attorneys' fees may be recovered by the prevailing party. 42 U.S.C. § 1988(b) (1991) provides that:
In any action or proceeding to enforce a provision of sections 1981, 1981a, 1982, 1983, 1985 and 1986 of this title, title IX of Public Law 92-318, or title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the court, in its discretion, may allow the prevailing party, other than the United States, a reasonble attorney's fee as part of the costs.
Additionally, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(k) (1991) provides that
In any action or proceeding under this subchapter the court, in its discretion, may allow the prevailing party, other than the Commission or the United States, a reasonable attorney's fee (including expert fees) as part of the costs, and the Commission and the United States shall be liable for costs the same as a private person.
A district court enjoys wide discretion in determining the award of attorneys' fees, Grant v. Martinez, 973 F.2d 96, 99 (2d Cir. 1992), cert. den 122 L. Ed. 2d 132 (1993), and the standards for awarding fees are the same under both statutes. Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 433 n.7, 76 L. Ed. 2d 40, 50, 103 S. Ct. 1933 (1983).
The issue, therefore, before this court is whether a civil rights plaintiff deserves attorney's fees for winning a preliminary injunction. Defendants' response is that plaintiff is not entitled to fees because it is not the prevailing party. Defendants assert that plaintiff will eventually lose at trial and that therefore any preliminary relief they achieved will be reversed.
To be considered a prevailing party under the above statutes a litigant need not prevail on every claim and issue involved in the litigation. It is sufficient that plaintiff succeed on any significant issue in litigation which achieves some of the benefit the parties sought in bringing suit. Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 433, 76 L. Ed. 2d 40, 50, 103 S. Ct. 1933 (1983).
"A prevailing party must be one who has succeeded on any significant claim affording it some of the relief sought, either pendente lite or at the conclusion of the litigation." Texas State Teachers Association v. Garland School District, 489 U.S. 782, 791, 103 L. Ed. 2d 866, 876, 109 S. Ct. 1486 (1989). In order to award fees for pendente lite relief the party seeking fees must establish his or her entitlement to some relief on the merits of his ...