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Title 49 Part 826

Title 49 → Subtitle B → Chapter VIII → Part 826

Electronic Code of Federal Regulations e-CFR

Title 49 Part 826

e-CFR data is current as of August 17, 2018

Title 49Subtitle BChapter VIII → Part 826


Title 49: Transportation


PART 826—RULES IMPLEMENTING THE EQUAL ACCESS TO JUSTICE ACT OF 1980


Contents

Subpart A—General Provisions

§826.1   Purpose of these rules.

The Equal Access to Justice Act, 5 U.S.C. 504 (the Act), provides for the award of attorney fees and other expenses to eligible individuals and entities who are parties to certain administrative proceedings (adversary adjudications) before the National Transportation Safety Board. An eligible party may receive an award when it prevails over the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), unless the FAA's position in the proceeding was substantially justified or special circumstances make an award unjust. The rules in this part describe the parties eligible for awards and the proceedings that are covered. They also explain how to apply for awards, and the procedures and standards this Board will use to make them. As used hereinafter, the term “Administrator” refers to the Administrator of the FAA.

[77 FR 63253, Oct. 16, 2012]

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§826.2   When the Act applies.

The Act applies to any adversary adjudication identified in §826.3 as covered under the Act.

[59 FR 30531, June 14, 1994]

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§826.3   Proceedings covered.

(a) The Act applies to certain adversary adjudications conducted by the Board. These are adjudications under 5 U.S.C. 554 in which the position of the FAA is presented by an attorney or other representative who enters an appearance and participates in the proceedings. Proceedings to grant or renew certificates or documents, hereafter referred to as “licenses,” are excluded, but proceedings to modify, suspend, or revoke licenses or to impose a civil penalty on a flight engineer, mechanic, pilot, or repairman (or person acting in that capacity) are covered if they are otherwise “adversary adjudications.” For the Board, the type of proceeding covered includes (but may not be limited to) aviation enforcement cases appealed to the Board under sections 501, 609, 611 and 901 of the Federal Aviation Act (49 U.S.C. 44101 et seq., 44720-44711, 44715, 46301).

(b) The Board may also designate a proceeding not listed in paragraph (a) as an adversary adjudication for purposes of the Act by so stating in an order initiating the proceeding or designating the matter for hearing. The Board's failure to designate a proceeding as an adversary adjudication shall not preclude the filing of an application by a party who believes the proceeding is covered by the Act; whether the procedure is covered will then be an issue for resolution in proceedings on the application.

(c) If a proceeding includes both matters covered by the Act and matters specifically excluded from coverage, any award made will include only fees and expenses related to covered issues.

[46 FR 48209, Oct. 1, 1981, as amended at 59 FR 59054, Nov. 15, 1994]

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§826.4   Eligibility of applicants.

(a) To be eligible for an award of attorney fees and other expenses under the Act, the applicant must be a party to the adversary adjudication for which it seeks an award. The term “party” is defined in 5 U.S.C. 551(3). The applicant must show that it meets all conditions of eligibility set out in this subpart and in subpart B.

(b) The types of eligible applicants are as follows:

(1) An individual with a net worth of not more than $2 million;

(2) The sole owner of an unincorporated business who has a net worth of not more than $7 million, including both personal and business interests, and not more than 500 employees;

(3) A charitable or other tax-exempt organization described in section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code (26 U.S.C. 501(c)(3)) with not more than 500 employees;

(4) A cooperative association as defined in section 15(a) of the Agricultural Marketing Act (12 U.S.C. 1141j(a)) with not more than 500 employees; and

(5) Any other partnership, corporation, association, or public or private organization with a net worth of not more than $7 million and not more than 500 employees.

(c) For the purpose of eligibility, the net worth and number of employees of an applicant shall be determined as of the date the proceeding was initiated.

(d) An applicant who owns an unincorporated business will be considered an “individual” rather than a “sole owner of an unincorporated business” if the issues on which the applicant prevails are related primarily to personal interests rather than to business interests.

(e) The employees of an applicant include all persons who regularly perform services for remuneration for the applicant, under the applicant's direction and control. Part-time employees shall be included on a proportional basis.

(f) The net worth and number of employees of the applicant and all of its affiliates shall be aggregated to determine eligibility. Any individual, corporation, or other entity that directly or indirectly controls or owns a majority of the voting shares or other interest of the applicant, or any corporation or other entity of which the applicant directly or indirectly owns or controls a majority of the voting shares or other interest, will be considered an affiliate for purposes of this part, unless the administrative law judge determines that such treatment would be unjust and contrary to the purposes of the Act in light of the actual relationship between the affiliated entities. In addition, the administrative law judge may determine that financial relationships of the applicant other than those described in this paragraph constitute special circumstances that would make an award unjust.

(g) An applicant that participates in a proceeding primarily on behalf of one or more other persons or entities that would be ineligible is not itself eligible for an award.

[46 FR 48209, Oct. 1, 1981, as amended at 54 FR 10332, Mar. 13, 1989]

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§826.5   Standards for awards.

(a) A prevailing applicant may receive an award for fees and expenses incurred in connection with a proceeding, or in a significant and discrete substantive portion of the proceeding, unless the position of the agency over which the applicant has prevailed was substantially justified. The burden of proof that an award should not be made to an eligible prevailing applicant is on the agency counsel, who may avoid an award by showing that the agency's position was reasonable in law and fact.

(b) An award will be reduced or denied if the applicant has unduly or unreasonably protracted the proceeding or if special circumstances make the award sought unjust.

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§826.6   Allowable fees and expenses.

(a) Awards will be based on rates customarily charged by persons engaged in the business of acting as attorneys, agents, and expert witnesses, even if the services were made available without charge or at a reduced rate to the applicant.

(b)(1) No award for the fee of an attorney or agent under these rules may exceed $75 indexed as follows:

eCFR graphic er14jn94.001.gif

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The CPI to be used is the annual average CPI, All Urban Consumers, U.S. City Average, All Items, except where a local, All Item index is available. Where a local index is available, but results in a manifest inequity vis-a-vis the U.S. City Average, the U.S. City Average may be used. The numerator of that equation is the yearly average for the year(s) the services were provided, with each year calculated separately. If an annual average CPI for a particular year is not yet available, the prior year's annual average CPI shall be used. This formula increases the $75 statutory cap by indexing it to reflect cost of living increases, as authorized in 5 U.S.C. 504(b)(1)(A)(ii). Application of these increased rate caps requires affirmative findings under §821.6(c) of this chapter. For ease of application, available U.S. City figures are reproduced as follows:

198190.9
198296.5
198399.6
1984103.9
1985107.6
1986109.6
1987113.6
1988118.3
1989124.0
1990130.7
1991136.2
1992140.3
1993144.5

(2) No award to compensate an expert witness may exceed the highest rate at which the agency pays expert witnesses. However, an award may also include the reasonable expenses of the attorney, agent, or witness as a separate item, if the attorney, agent, or witness ordinarily charges clients separately for such expenses.

(c) In determining the reasonableness of the fee sought for an attorney, agent, or expert witness, the administrative law judge shall consider the following:

(1) If the attorney, agent, or witness is in private practice, his or her customary fee for similar services, or if an employee of the applicant, the fully allocated cost of the services;

(2) The prevailing rate for similar services in the community in which the attorney, agent, or witness ordinarily performs services;

(3) The time actually spent in the representation of the applicant;

(4) The time reasonably spent in light of the difficulty or complexity of the issues in the proceeding; and

(5) Such other factors as may bear on the value of the services provided.

(d) The reasonable cost of any study, analysis, engineering report, test, project, or similar matter prepared on behalf of a party may be awarded, to the extent that the charge for the service does not exceed the prevailing rate for similar services, and the study or other matter was necessary for preparation of the applicant's case.

[46 FR 48209, Oct. 1, 1981, as amended at 58 FR 21544, Apr. 22, 1993; 59 FR 30531, June 14, 1994]

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§826.7   Rulemaking on maximum rates for attorney fees.

(a) In addition to increases based on cost of living (see §826.6), attorney fees in some or all of the proceedings covered by this part may also be increased beyond the statutory cap of $75 if warranted by special factors (such as limited availability of attorneys qualified to handle certain types of proceedings). The Board will conduct any rulemaking proceedings for this purpose under the informal rulemaking procedures of the Administrative Procedure Act.

(b) Any person may file with the Board a petition for rulemaking to increase the maximum rate for attorney fees by demonstrating that a special factor(s) justifies a higher fee. The petition shall identify the rate the petitioner believes the Board should establish and the proceeding(s) or types of proceedings in which the rate should be used. It should also explain fully the reasons why the higher rate is warranted. The Board will respond to the petition within 60 days after it is filed, by initiating a rulemaking proceeding, denying the petition, or taking other appropriate action.

[58 FR 21545, Apr. 22, 1993]

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§826.8   Awards against the Federal Aviation Administration.

When an applicant is entitled to an award because it prevails over an agency of the United States that participates in a proceeding before the Board and takes a position that is not substantially justified, the award shall be made against that agency.

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Subpart B—Information Required From Applicants

§826.21   Contents of application.

(a) An application for an award of fees and expenses under the Act shall identify the applicant and the proceeding for which an award is sought. The application shall show that the applicant has prevailed and identify the position of the agency in the proceeding that the applicant alleges was not substantially justified. Unless the applicant is an individual, the application shall also state the number of employees of the applicant and describe briefly the type and purpose of its organization or business.

(b) The application shall also include a statement that the applicant's net worth does not exceed $2 million (if an individual) or $7 million (for all other applicants, including their affiliates). However, an applicant may omit this statement if:

(1) It attaches a copy of a ruling by the Internal Revenue Service that it qualifies as an organization described in section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code (26 U.S.C. 501(c)(3)), or in the case of a tax-exempt organization not required to obtain a ruling from the Internal Revenue Service on its exempt status, a statement that describes the basis for the applicant's belief that it qualifies under such section; or

(2) It states that it is a cooperative association as defined in section 15(a) of the Agricultural Marketing Act (12 U.S.C. 1141j(a)).

(c) The application shall state the amount of fees and expenses for which an award is sought.

(d) The application may also include any other matters that the applicant wishes this agency to consider in determining whether and in what amount an award should be made.

(e) The application shall be signed by the applicant or an authorized officer or attorney for the applicant. It shall also contain or be accompanied by a written verification under oath or under penalty of perjury that the information provided in the application is true and correct.

[46 FR 48209, Oct. 1, 1981, as amended at 59 FR 30532, June 14, 1994]

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§826.22   Net worth exhibit.

(a) Each applicant except a qualified tax-exempt organization or cooperative association must provide with its application a detailed exhibit showing the net worth of the applicant and any affiliates (as defined in §826.4(f) of this part) when the proceeding was initiated. The exhibit may be in any form convenient to the applicant that provides full disclosure of the applicant's and its affiliates' assets and liabilities and is sufficient to determine whether the applicant qualifies under the standards in this part. The administrative law judge may require an applicant to file additional information to determine the eligibility for an award.

(b) Ordinarily, the net worth exhibit will be included in the public record of the proceeding. However, an applicant that objects to public disclosure of information in any portion of the exhibit and believes there are legal grounds for withholding it from disclosure may submit that portion of the exhibit directly to the administrative law judge in a sealed envelope labeled “Confidential Financial Information,” accompanied by a motion to withhold the information from public disclosure. The motion shall describe the information sought to be withheld and explain, in detail, why it falls within one or more of the specific exemptions from mandatory disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. 552(b) (1) through (9), why public disclosure of the information would adversely affect the applicant, and why disclosure is not required in the public interest. The material in question shall be served on counsel representing the agency against which the applicant seeks an award, but need not be served on any other party to the proceeding. If the administrative law judge finds that the information should not be withheld from disclosure, it shall be placed in the public record of the proceeding. Otherwise, any request to inspect or copy the exhibit shall be disposed of in accordance with the Board's established procedures under the Freedom of Information Act as inplemented by Part 801 of the Board's rules.

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§826.23   Documentation of fees and expenses.

The application shall be accompanied by full documentation of the fees and expenses, including the cost of any study, analysis, engineering report, test, project or similar matter, for which an award is sought. A separate itemized statement shall be submitted for each professional firm or individual whose services are covered by the application, showing the hours spend in connection with the proceeding by each individual, a description of the specific services performed, the rate at which each fee has been computed, any expenses for which reimbursement is sought, the total amount claimed, and the total amount paid or payable by the applicant or by any other person or entity for the services provided. The administrative law judge may require the applicant to provide vouchers, receipts, or other substantiation for any expenses claimed.

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§826.24   When an application may be filed.

(a) An application may be filed whenever the applicant has prevailed in the proceeding, but in no case no later than the 30 days after the Board's final disposition of the proceeding. This 30-day deadline is statutory and the Board has no authority to extend it.

(b) If review or reconsideration is sought or taken of a decision to which an applicant believes it has prevailed, proceedings for the award of fees shall be stayed pending final disposition of the underlying controversy.

(c) For purposes of this rule, final disposition means the later of (1) the date on which an unappealed initial decision by an administrative law judge becomes administratively final; (2) issuance of an order disposing of any petitions for reconsideration of the Board's final order in the proceeding; (3) if no petition for reconsideration is filed, the last date on which such a petition could have been filed; or (4) issuance of a final order or any other final resolution of a proceeding, such as a settlement or voluntary dismissal, which is not subject to a petition for reconsideration.

[46 FR 48209, Oct. 1, 1981, as amended at 59 FR 30532, June 14, 1994]

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Subpart C—Procedures for Considering Applications

§826.31   Filing and service of documents and general procedures.

The rules contained in 49 CFR part 821 apply to proceedings under the Act, unless they are superseded by or are inconsistent with a provision of this part.

[59 FR 30532, June 14, 1994]

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§826.32   Answer to application.

(a) Within 30 days after service of an application, counsel representing the agency against which an award is sought may file an answer to the application. Unless agency counsel requests an extension of time for filing or files a statement of intent to negotiate under paragraph (b) of this section, failure to file an answer within the 30-day period may be treated as a consent to the award requested.

(b) If agency counsel and the applicant believe that the issues in the fee application can be settled, they may jointly file a statement of their intent to negotiate a settlement. The filing of this statement shall extend the time for filing an answer for an additional 30 days, and further extensions may be granted by the administrative law judge upon request by agency counsel and the applicant.

(c) The answer shall explain in detail any objections to the award requested and identify the facts relied on in support of agency counsel's position. If the answer is based on any alleged facts not already in the record of the proceeding, agency counsel shall include with the answer either supporting affidavits or a request for further proceedings under §826.36.

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§826.33   Reply.

Within 15 days after service of an answer, the applicant may file a reply. If the reply is based on any alleged facts not already in the record of the proceeding, the applicant shall include with the reply either supporting affidavits or a request for further proceedings under §826.36.

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§826.34   Comments by other parties.

Any party to a proceeding other than the applicant and agency counsel may file comments on an application within 30 days after it is served or on an answer within 15 days after it is served. A commenting party may not participate further in proceedings on the application unless the administrative law judge determines that the public interest requires such participation in order to permit full exploration of matters raised in the comments.

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§826.35   Settlement.

The applicant and agency counsel may agree on a proposed settlement of the award before final action on the application, either in connection with a settlement of the underlying proceeding, or after the underlying proceeding has been concluded. If a prevailing party and agency counsel agree on a proposed settlement of an award before an application has been filed, the application shall be filed with the proposed settlement.

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§826.36   Further proceedings.

(a) Ordinarily the determination of an award will be made on the basis of the written record; however, on request of either the applicant or agency counsel, or on his or her own initiative, the administrative law judge assigned to the matter may order further proceedings, such as an informal conference, oral argument, additional written submissions, or an evidentiary hearing. Such further proceedings shall be held only when necessary for full and fair resolution of the issues arising from the application and shall be conducted as promptly as possible.

(b) A request that the administrative law judge order further proceedings under this section shall specifically identify the information sought or the disputed issues and shall explain why the additional proceedings are necessary to resolve the issues.

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§826.37   Decision.

The administrative law judge shall issue an initial decision on the application within 60 days after completion of proceedings on the application. The decision shall include written findings and conclusions on the applicant's eligibility and status as a prevailing party and an explanation of the reasons for any difference between the amount requested and the amount awarded. The decision shall also include, if at issue, findings on whether the agency's position was substantially justified, whether the applicant unduly protracted the proceedings, or whether special circumstances make an award unjust.

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§826.38   Board review.

Either the applicant or agency counsel may seek review of the initial decision on the fee application, or the Board may decide to review the decision on its own initiative, in accordance with subpart H of part 821 for FAA safety enforcement matters appealed under section 609 of the Federal Aviation Act. If neither the applicant nor agency counsel seeks review and the Board does not take review on its own initiative, the initial decision on the application shall become a final decision of the Board 30 days after it is issued. Whether to review a decision is a matter within the discretion of the Board. If review is taken, the Board will issue a final decision on the application or remand the application to the administrative law judge who issued the initial fee award determination for further proceedings.

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§826.39   Judicial review.

Judicial review of final Board decisions on awards may be sought as provided in 5 U.S.C. 504(c)(2).

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§826.40   Payment of award.

Within 5 days of the Board's service of a final decision granting an award of fees and expenses to an applicant, the Administrator shall transmit to the applicant instructions explaining how the applicant may obtain the award. These instructions may require, but are not limited to, the submission of the following information to the Administrator: a statement that the applicant will not seek review of the decision in the United States courts, bank routing numbers to which the Administrator may transmit payment, and the applicant's tax identification or Social Security number. The Administrator will pay the applicant the amount awarded within 60 days of receiving the necessary information from the applicant, unless judicial review of the award or of the underlying decision of the adversary adjudication has been sought by the applicant or any other party to the proceeding.

[77 FR 63253, Oct. 16, 2012]

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