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Brooks v. Gant Plaintiffs Prevailed by Catalyzing State Action; Make Gant Pay!

Sara Frankenstein may be sorry she opened her mouth.

The Rapid City lawyer and SDGOP treasurer filed a vindictive motion last week to make Oglala Sioux plaintiffs in the dismissed Brooks v. Gant voting rights lawsuit pay for the state's and involved counties' lawyer bills. This motion is pure intimidation and payback for challenging the sainted authority of the Republican powers that be.

Frankenstein and Attorney General Marty Jackley justify this assault on Indian pocketbooks by saying that federal law allows prevailing parties in lawsuits to seek compensation from the losing parties.

Technically, Frankenstein and Jackley will argue that the state prevailed and the Oglala Sioux plaintiffs lost because the judge dismissed the lawsuit. But the judge dismissed only because the state took the action the plaintiffs sought to support their voting rights, affirming the plaintiff's raison de litiger.

Aspiring South Dakota blogospherian Michael Larson does his homework and finds a legal paper that posits something called the catalyst doctrine. Boiled down, the catalyst doctrine holds that if A's lawsuit against B gets B to do something to take care of the problem that caused A to sue, the courts consider A to have prevailed, even if A's lawsuit is dismissed.

Translation: under the payback rules Frankenstein and Jackley are citing, Secretary Gant, Fall River County, and Shannon County owe the Oglala Sioux plaintiffs compensation for their legal fees.

So, Sara, still want to pursue that motion? Or shall we just let Brooks v. Gant go?


  1. Caitin Collier 2013.08.27

    Great reporting! Hope the OST attorneys are reading!

  2. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.08.27

    Thanks, Caitlin! If you have friends among the OST, send them the link!

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