BOISE – Four couples who successfully sued Idaho Gov. Butch Otter over the state’s gay marriage ban are now asking to be reimbursed for nearly half a million dollars of attorney fees and other court costs.
The group filed a motion in Boise’s U.S. District Court on Tuesday asking that the state be ordered to pay more than $467,000 for the expenses associated with bringing the lawsuit.
U.S. District Magistrate Judge Candy Dale overturned Idaho’s ban on same-sex marriage earlier this month, saying the ban unconstitutionally denies gay and lesbian residents of their constitutional right to marry. Otter and Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden have appealed that ruling; the case is still pending before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Until the appeal is decided, no same-sex marriages will be allowed or recognized in the state.
Under federal law, the winner of a lawsuit can generally seek to recover attorney’s fees and costs from the losing side. The fees and costs must be approved by a judge and they can be appealed, just like the verdict itself. But they can substantially raise the financial stakes for the losing party.
Earlier this year, Idaho lawmakers approved the governor’s request for a transfer of $1 million from Idaho’s general fund to the Constitutional Defense Fund – an account that the state can use to pay for costs associated with defending lawsuits that challenge the state’s constitution.
In a document filed with the motion for attorney’s fees and costs, the plaintiffs say they had six attorneys working on the case, billing at rates from $175 an hour to $400 an hour. Other expenses included investigation, drafting and communication efforts with the eight plaintiffs, according to the document.