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Court Has Jurisdiction Over Special Master's Decision on Interim Fees

By FindLaw Staff on June 24, 2010 4:35 PM

Shaw v. Sec'y of Human & Health Serv., No. 09-5117, concerned a challenge to the Court of Federal Claims' dismissal for lack of jurisdiction in an appeal of Special Master's decision to award plaintiff's undisputed portion of his request for interim attorneys' fees and costs and deferring consideration of the remaining amount until submission of a final petition for fees and costs in a case under the Vaccine Act.

As stated in the decision: "The Special Master's grant or denial of interim attorneys' fees is a decision on compensation and as such it is reviewable by the Court of Federal Claims under section 12(e).  Moreover, the Special Master's decision on interim attorneys' fees is a final decision on the issue of "interim fees."  And if the interim fee denial cannot be reviewed until after a decision on the merits, it is no longer an interim fee.  Foreclosing review of a denial of interim fees is tantamount to a denial of such fees."

Thus, in reversing, the court held that 42 U.S.C. section 12(e) confers jurisdiction on the Court of Federal Claims to review interim attorney fee decisions as an interim attorney fee decision is a separate decision on compensation, and as such, is reviewable even when that decision issues prior to a decision on the merits. 

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