Minnesota Court of Appeals - Attorneys' Fees Awarded To Seaton, Peters & Revnew Attorneys For Home-Based Childcare Providers In Case Against Governor Dayton - Small Businesses Can "Fight City Hall"

Late last month, the Minnesota Court of Appeals found the Governor and the Bureau of Mediation Services to be liable for the attorneys' fees of the Plaintiff home-based childcare providers, represented by Seaton, Peters & Revnew, in the childcare unionization case, reversing the Ramsey County District Court's denial of fees after the Plaintiffs won the case against the unionzation Executive Order. 

The Defendants, the Governor and the Bureau of Mediation Services, will face a Ramsey County District Court determination of the fees actually due to the home-based childcare providers for the Defendants’ effort to pursue forced unionization of the home-based childcare providers through Executive Order, without substantial legal justification.

The Minnesota Equal Access to Justice Act (“MN-EAJA”), said the Court, requires an attorneys’ fee award to small business prevailing parties if they are forced to legally contest governmental action taken without substantial legal justification.

The Appeals Court said that this was such a case and sent the matter back to the Ramsey County District Court for determination of the fees due.  Plaintiff home-based childcare provider Hollee Saville said: “This is a great day for the small business childcare providers who resisted the union schemes to force unionization on our industry.” 

Plaintiffs’ Attorney, Doug Seaton, who handled the fee appeal with Attorney Tara Craft Adams of the firm, commented that: “This decision means that these small business plaintiffs won’t be forced to shoulder the cost of challenging the full weight of illegitimate government actions.  Other small businesses faced with overzealous political and administrative actions should take heart from this decision.”

Mike Hickey, Minnesota State Director of the National Federation of Independent Businesses (“NFIB”), who originally pushed for the passage of the MN-EAJA in 1986, said he was proud to have spearheaded the coalition that initially passed the law and that this decision “gives the law teeth.”

Tom Revnew of Seaton, Peters & Revnew, who made the winning arguments against the Governor’s Unionization Executive Order, when it was overturned last June, said that the MN-EAJA (and its federal EAJA counterpart), “give small employers the ability to successfully resist illegitimate bullying by state and federal bureaucrats and politicians,” and suggested that employers “always consider this option when government investigators, auditors and prosecutors are acting without legal justification.”

The Minnesota Legislature is on the verge of passing legislation whose object is to impose unions on these same home-based child care providers (and personal care attendants) despite the defeat of the Governor’s Executive Order. This legislation is bad policy, shameless union-payback and unconstitutional because federal labor law preempts any state labor law for these private businesses.  Please contact your legislators if you agree at http://www.leg.state.mn.us/.

Call or email the authors, or any Seaton, Peters & Revnew lawyer, for more information at (952) 896-1700 orfirm@seatonlaw.com

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