Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(a) allows a claim for attorney’s fees and other nontaxable costs to be made by motion in most cases. Such fees may be recoverable by statute or pursuant to a contract between the parties. In some cases, attorney’s fees are recoverable as a sanction for litigation misconduct. Consequently, fee motions play a prominent role in the post-trial practice.
Such fee motions raise a number of questions for the appellate process. We will explore some of these questions in a series of posts.
Does the fee application extend the time to appeal the judgment?
Generally, the answer is no. Rule 58(e) provides that a fee motion does not permit a delay in the entry of judgment or extend the time for perfecting appeal. Hence, litigants contemplating an appeal must file a timely notice of appeal even if a motion for fees remains pending in the district court. The district court does have the authority to order that the fee motion has the same effect upon the appellate timetable as a motion for new trial or to amend judgment under Rule 59, but such an extension is not automatic. A litigant who wants an extension must specifically request it and obtain an order from the court.