McGuireWoods and a coalition of Virginia attorneys are asking a federal appeals court to abandon precedent they argue unfairly denies plaintiffs attorney fees for preliminary wins in civil rights cases that ultimately force a resolution.

The attorneys claim a 20-year-old opinion from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit that limited fees in civil rights disputes leaves winning parties without the ability to recoup fees. Plaintiffs attorneys view the precedent established in Smyth ex Rel. Smyth v. Rivero as a well-known obstacle to getting attorney fees within the Fourth Circuit’s five-state jurisdiction.