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Saturday, February 1, 2020

Stone v Stone, 2020 WL 491194 (D. New Jersey, 2020)[Israel] [Necessary expenses] [Respondents request denied]

In Stone v Stone, 2020 WL 491194 (D. New Jersey, 2020) [Not for publication] on September 12, 2019, Petitioner Yerucham Stone filed a petition for the return of his three minor children to Israel pursuant to the 1980 Hague Convention. Respondent Bracha Leibowitz Stone responded to the factual allegations of the Petition, opposed the return of the Minor Children to Israel, and requested attorneys fees and costs. The Court held an evidentiary hearing and denied the Petition for return.

On December 20, 2019, the Court held a telephone status conference with the parties, during which Respondent’s counsel reiterated her request for attorneys’ fees and costs. The District Court pointed out that Respondent’s counsel argued that 42 U.S.C. § 11601, which implemented the Hague Convention, permits the Court to award fees and costs to a successful respondent. § 11601 has been superseded by 22 U.S.C. § 9001 el seq. Under the statute, a court ordering the return of a child pursuant to the statute “shall order the respondent to pay necessary expenses incurred by ... petitioner, including court costs [and] legal fees.” 22 U.S.C. § 9007(b)(3). There is no provision, however, by which a respondent is eligible to recover fees and costs from a petitioner. Moreover, other district courts have found that a prevailing respondent is not entitled to attorneys’ fees. See, e.g., White v. White. 893 F. Supp. 2d 755. 758 (E.D. Va. 2012) (noting that ICARA “does not provide for fees to a prevailing respondent, and indeed, does not even mention prevailing respondents”); Thompson v. Gnirk, No. 12-220, 2012 WL 3598854, at *17 (D.N.H. Aug. 21. 2012) (denying prevailing respondent’s request for attorneys’ fees because ICARA provides “no such [fee-shifting] provision for a prevailing respondent”). Furthermore, “[u]nder the American rule, each party normally must bear the burden of its own legal expenses, including attorneys’ fees.” Wilkes Barre Hosp. Co., LLC v. Wyo. Valley Nurses Ass’n Pasnap, 453 F. App’x 258, 261 (3d Cir. 2011) (quoting Mobil Oil Corp. v. Indep. Oil Workers Union, 679 F.2d 299, 305 (3d Cir. 1982)). The Court found no basis to depart from this principle in this case, and denied Respondent’s request for an award of fees and costs.