United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Alexandria Division
JOE W. AGUILLARD
MARK L. HORNSBY
A. DOUGHTY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
before the Court is Defendant Louisiana College39;s
(“LC”) Motion for Attorney Fees [Doc. No. 137].
Plaintiff Joe Aguillard (“Aguillard”) filed a
memorandum in opposition to the motion. [Doc. No. 145]. LC
filed a reply [Doc. No. 146].
following reasons, LC39;s Motion for Attorney Fees is
filed this civil action against LC, his former employer. LC
is a private college associated with the Baptist faith.
Aguillard originally asserted religious discrimination and
retaliation claims under the provisions of Title VII of the
Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §2000e, as amended
(“Title VII”); and disability discrimination,
retaliation, and hostile work environment claims under the
Americans With Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12101,
et seq. (“ADA”). Aguillard subsequently
asserted an ADA retaliation claim alleging LC filed a
defamation lawsuit against him in retaliation for his filing
of an ADA “Charge of Discrimination” and a
September 19, 2018, the Court granted summary judgment in
favor of LC dismissing Aguillard39;s religious
discrimination and retaliation claims. [Doc. Nos. 30, 31]. On
April 4, 2019, the Court granted summary judgment in favor of
LC dismissing Aguillard39;s claims of disability
discrimination and disability-based retaliation, as well as
any disability-based hostile work environment claims
Aguillard may have made. [Doc. Nos. 70, 71]. On August 26,
2019, the Court granted summary judgment in favor of LC
dismissing Aguillard39;s ADA defamation/retaliation claim.
[Doc. Nos. 116, 117].
seeks attorney fees relating to its defense of
Aguillard39;s Title VII and ADA claims.
LAW AND ANALYSIS
Attorney Fees Law
Title VII, a court may award reasonable attorney fees to the
prevailing party. 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(k). When a
defendant is the prevailing party in a Title VII case, such
an award may be made only “where the court finds that
[the plaintiff39;s] claim was frivolous, unreasonable, or
groundless, or that the plaintiff continued to litigate after
it clearly became so, ” or that the plaintiff brought a
claim in bad faith. Provensal v. Gaspard, 524 Fed.
App39;x. 974, 976 (5th Cir. 2013) (quoting
Christiansburg Garment Co. v. EEOC, 34 U.S. 412');">434 U.S. 412,
the costs provision of the Americans With Disabilities Act
(“ADA”), attorney fees may also be awarded to the
defendant “if the plaintiff39;s action was frivolous,
unreasonable or without foundation.” Webster v. Bd.
of Supervisors, No. 13-6613, 2016 WL 4467750, *2 (E.D.
La. Aug. 24, 2016) (citing 42 U.S.C. § 12205 and
determine whether a suit is frivolous, a court must ask
whether the case is so lacking in arguable merit as to be
groundless or without foundation rather than whether
‘the claim was ultimately successful.39;”
Stover v. Hattiesburg Pub. Sch. Dist ., 549 F.3d
985, 997-98 (5th Cir. 2008) (citing Jones v. Texas Tech
Univ., 37');">656 F.2d 1137, 1145 (5th Cir.1981))
do not need to be “airtight” to avoid being
frivolous, and courts must be careful not to use the benefit
of perfect hindsight in assessing frivolousness.
Christiansburg, 434 U.S. at 421-22. In assessing
frivolity, courts in this circuit look primarily to three
factors: (1) whether the plaintiff established a prima
facie case, (2) whether the defendant offered to settle,
and (3) whether the court held a full trial. Myers v.
City of West Monroe, 3d 289');">211 F.3d 289, 292 (5th
Cir. 2000). As further stated in Provensal,
supra, “[t]hese factors are
‘guideposts,' and frivolousness must be judged on a
case-by-case basis . . . Where a claim is ‘so lacking
in merit' as to render it groundless, it may be
classified as frivolous.” Id., 524 Fed.
App'x. at 976 (quoting United States v.
Mississippi, 921 F.2d 604, 609 (5th Cir.
1991)). Also, “[a] claim is frivolous if a ...