Legal Alert

Ballard Spahr Client Recovers Substantial Attorneys’ Fees after Commerce Clause Win

July 18, 2011

Ballard Spahr client Midwest Title Loans has obtained a $440,000 payment from the State of Indiana to resolve Midwest Title’s claim for attorneys’ fees as a “prevailing party” in a federal Civil Rights Act lawsuit brought by Midwest Title.

Midwest Title earlier won its lawsuit against the Indiana Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) after arguing that the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution precludes Indiana from applying its Uniform Consumer Credit Code (UCCC) to loans made in person in Illinois to Indiana residents. Typically, state attorneys general recover substantial penalties from companies in consumer cases. That is hardly ever newsworthy. However, it is rare for a company to turn the tables and recover substantial attorneys’ fees from a state.

As previously reported, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana agreed with Midwest’s position, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit unanimously affirmed the lower court decision, and the U.S. Supreme Court denied DFI’s petition for certiorari.

Section 1988(b) of the federal Civil Rights Act entitles a “prevailing party” in a Civil Rights Act lawsuit to recover its reasonable attorneys’ fees and expenses from the losing party. Midwest Title filed a fee petition, which was resolved through the State of Indiana payment.

Ballard Spahr’s Consumer Financial Services Group is nationally recognized for its skill in consumer financial services litigation, its pioneering work in pre-dispute arbitration programs, its guidance in structuring and documentation of new consumer financial services products, and its experience with the full range of federal and state consumer credit laws throughout the country. For further information, please contact group Chair Alan S. Kaplinsky, 215.864.8544 or; Burt M. Rublin, 215.864.8116 or; or Vice Chair Jeremy T. Rosenblum, 215.864.8505 or

Copyright © 2011 by Ballard Spahr LLP.
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This alert is a periodic publication of Ballard Spahr LLP and is intended to notify recipients of new developments in the law. It should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinion on any specific facts or circumstances. The contents are intended for general informational purposes only, and you are urged to consult your own attorney concerning your situation and specific legal questions you have.

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