When Is A Litigant Awarded Legal Fees?
Under the American Rule, only in a few, narrowly-defined circumstances.
The American RuleAttorney fees are recoverable against an adverse party:
By express contractual provision
By statute, rule or regulation
Certain legal issues such as fraud
De facto attorney fees are recoverable when punitive damages are awarded
For frivolous pleading or motion practice as defined by statute and rule. See: Hunt v Sharp, 85 NY2d 883 
Exception To The American RuleActions against third-parties, such as when a defendant's wrongful act forces a plaintiff into litigation with a third party, the plaintiff may be permitted to recover from the defendant its attorney fees incurred in the third-party litigation as special damages. See: Hunt v Sharp, 85 NY2d 883 .