At oral argument before the 1st Circuit, a lawyer for the commonwealth of Massachusetts argued that Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr and the Center for Public Representation should not have been awarded $780,000 in attorney fees by a district court. The state’s position is that a pretrial settlement of a class action means the plaintiffs, people with brain injuries in nursing homes and rehabilitation facilities, are not “prevailing parties”; thus the state doesn’t need to pay reimbursement for fees racked up by the plaintiffs, who sued over the state’s services.

The Nov. 2 hearing in Hutchinson v. Patrick concerned a challenge to a February 2010 ruling by the District of Massachusetts to award plaintiffs $786,123 in fees and costs. The total includes $10,986 in costs and $414,036 in fees to Northampton, Mass.-based Center for Public Representation and $361,191 in fees to Wilmer lawyers.