[ Stevens ]
|Syllabus ||Opinion |
[ Scalia ]
NOTE: Where it is feasible, a syllabus (headnote) will be released, as is being done in connection with this case, at the time the opinion is issued. The syllabus constitutes no part of the opinion of the Court but has been prepared by the Reporter of Decisions for the convenience of the reader. See United States v. Detroit Lumber Co., 200 U.S. 321, 337.
SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES
SHALALA, SECRETARY OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES v. SCHAEFER
certiorari to the united states court of appeals for the eighth circuit
In 1986, respondent Schaefer filed a claim for Social Security disability benefits, which was denied by petitioner Secretary at the administrative level. Schaefer sought judicial review and, on April 4, 1989, the District Court reversed the administrative denial of benefits and remanded the case to the Secretary pursuant to the fourth sentence of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Schaefer was awarded benefits on remand and, in July of 1990, he returned to the District Court and filed for attorney's fees under the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA). In opposing the motion, the Secretary noted that the EAJA required Schaefer to file his application within 30 days of "final judgment" in the action, 28 U.S.C. § 2412(d)(1)(B), and argued that the 30 day clock began running when the District Court's sentence four remand order of April 4, 1989 became final, which would have occurred at the end of the 60 days for appeal provided under Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 4(a). The District Court awarded fees to Schaefer, holding that a sentence four remand order is not a final judgment where a court retains jurisdiction and plans to enter a judgment after remand proceedings are complete. The Court of Appeals affirmed on the same basis.
1. The 30 day period for filing an application for EAJA fees begins immediately upon expiration of the time for appeal of a "sentence four remand order." Pp. 3-10.
(a) A district court remanding a case pursuant to sentence four of §405 must enter judgment in the case and may not retain jurisdiction over the administrative proceedings on remand. Sentence four's plain language authorizes a court to enter a judgment"with or without remanding the cause for a rehearing," not a remand order "with or without" a judgment. Pp. 3-5.
(b) The Court's decision in Sullivan v. Hudson, 490 U.S. 877, 892--that fees incurred during administrative proceedings held pursuant to a district court's remand order may be recovered under the EAJA--does not apply where the remand is ordered pursuant to sentence four of §405(g). Pp. 6-8.
(c) Contrary to dicta in Sullivan v. Hudson, a Social Security claimant who obtains a sentence four judgment reversing the Secretary's denial of benefits meets the description of a "prevailing party" set out in Texas Teachers Assn. v. Garland Independent School Dist., 489 U.S. 782, 791-792. Pp. 8-10.
2. Schaefer's application for EAJA fees was nonetheless timely under §2412(d)(1) because the District Court failed to comply with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 58 in entering its sentence four remand order of April 4, 1989. The EAJA's 30 day time limit runs from the end of the period for appeal, and that period does not begin until a judgment is entered in compliance with the formalities of Rule 58. Because the District Court never entered formal judgment, neither the time for appeal nor the EAJA's 30 day clock had run when Schaefer filed his application. Pp. 10-11.
960 F. 2d 1053, affirmed.
Scalia, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Rehnquist, C. J., and White, O'Connor, Kennedy, Souter, and Thomas, JJ., joined. Stevens, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment, in which Blackmun, J., joined.