Attorneys' Fees Awarded Against Plaintiff Pension Plan

In Sullivan v. Randolph, 504 F.3d 665 (7th Cir. 2007), the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals entered an award of attorneys' fees, pursuant to ERISA provision 29 U.S.C. § 1132(g)(1), against a plaintiff multi-employer pension plan in a case seeking contributions to a plan.  The court held that the plan's claim "lacked substantial justification" thus warranting an award of attorneys' fees. 

The court also criticized the 5-factor test for determining the appropriateness and size of an award of attorneys' fees articulated previously by that circuit in Bittner v. Sadoff & Rudoy Industries, 728 F.2d 820 (7th Cir. 1984), as being needlessly complex and having outlived its usefulness.  It seems to me that parties seeking or defending against attorneys' fees should nonetheless argue the relevant factors articulated in that test because they provide a means for evaluating the merits of an award of attorneys' fees.