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Supreme Court rules on attorney's fees under vaccine act

The US Supreme Court [official website] ruled [opinion, PDF] Monday in Sebelius v. Cloer [SCOTUSblog backgrounder; JURIST report] that an untimely National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 (NCVIA) [42 USC §§ 300aa-1 to 300aa-34, PDF] petition may qualify for an award of attorney's fees if it is filed in good faith and there is a reasonable basis for its claim. In this case, Dr. Melissa Cloer filed an untimely claim to recover from the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program [official website] and incurred more than $100,000 in attorney's fees. Writing for the court, Justice Sonia Sotomayor held that as long as the claim was filed in good faith and there is a reasonable basis, the petition may qualify for attorney's fees. The ruling affirmed the decision [opinion] of the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia joined in the opinion except as to Part II-B. In Part II-B, Sotomayor asserted that, "[t]he Government's position is also inconsistent with the goals of the fees provision itself."

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