A private school in Virginia includes a clause in its enrollment contract with parents that requires the parents to pay the school’s attorneys’ fees and costs in any litigation–regardless of who prevails. The parent of a child at the school brought a suit in Virginia state court seeking a declaration that the attorneys’ fee clause is unenforceable. A Virginia circuit court granted summary judgment to the parent, holding the clause unconscionable and void as against public policy. The Virginia Supreme Court then granted review.
In the Virginia Supreme Court, Public Citizen, representing itself, Virginia Poverty Law Center. and Public Justice, filed an amicus brief in support of the parent. The brief explains that the circuit court’s ruling is important to the ability of consumers and employees to hold companies accountable for wrongdoing. If allowed, clauses like this one would create a significant barrier to individuals’ ability to access the civil justice system to vindicate their rights. The Virginia Supreme Court affirmed the ruling below, concluding that the challenged attorneys’ fee clause was unconscionable.