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UNITED STATES v. ELEVEN VEHICLES

May 30, 1997

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
ELEVEN VEHICLES, et al., Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: ROBRENO

 EDUARDO C. ROBRENO

 MAY 30, 1997

 In this civil forfeiture case, claimants Robert Clyde Ivy and Irene Ivy, and plaintiff United States, have each moved for reconsideration of the Court's Order of August 30, 1996 (as amended September 9, 1996), *fn1" which held that the government had reasonable cause for initiating the forfeiture action in this case but that the claimants were nevertheless entitled to attorney's fees under the Equal Access to Justice Act ("EAJA") because the government's position was not substantially justified. See Claimants' motion for reconsideration and supporting memoranda (doc. nos. 161 & 168); and the government's response thereto (doc. no. 166); the government's motion for reconsideration and supporting memorandum (doc. no. 162); and the claimants' response thereto (doc. no. 165).

 Claimants have also filed a motion for cost of living adjustment for attorney's fees and supporting memoranda (doc. nos. 160 & 164), as well as an itemized statement of counsel's hours, rates and expenses and supporting affidavits and documentation (doc. no. 163). The government has countered with prolix objections to claimants' itemized statement of counsel's hours, rates and expenses (doc. no. 171) as well as a supplemental memorandum (doc. no. 172) to which the claimants have filed a reply (doc. no. 174).

 For the reasons that follow, the motions for reconsideration are denied; the claimant's motion for a cost of living adjustment is granted in part and denied in part; and the government's objections to claimants itemized statement of attorney's fees and expenses are sustained in part and overruled in part.

 I. MOTIONS FOR RECONSIDERATION

 The Third Circuit has instructed that "the purpose of a motion for reconsideration is to correct manifest errors of law or fact or to present newly discovered evidence." Harsco Corp. v. Zlotnicki, 779 F.2d 906, 909 (3d Cir. 1985), cert. denied, 476 U.S. 1171, 90 L. Ed. 2d 982, 106 S. Ct. 2895 (1986). The Court will thus review each party's motion for reconsideration under this standard.

 A. The Government's Motion for Reconsideration

 The government moves for reconsideration of the Court's determination that the government's position was not substantially justified. "Substantial justification under the [fee shifting provision of the Equal Access to Justice Act] has been defined by the Supreme Court as 'justified in substance or in the main--that is, justified to a degree that could satisfy a reasonable person.'. . . Alternatively phrased, an agency position is substantially justified if it has a reasonable basis in both law and fact." Hanover Potato Products, Inc. v. Shalala, 989 F.2d 123, 128 (3d Cir. 1993) (quoting Pierce v. Underwood, 487 U.S. 552, 565, 101 L. Ed. 2d 490, 108 S. Ct. 2541 (1988)). The government has the burden of "demonstrating substantial justification for its position." Id.

 While the Court found that the government's position taken pre-litigation, or agency position, was substantially justified (i.e., it had probable cause to initiate the forfeiture proceeding), it found that its litigation position was not. Eleven Vehicles III, 937 F. Supp. at 1153. In determining whether the government was substantially justified the Court was constrained to "treat[] the case as an inclusive whole." Commissioner, I.N.S. v. Jean, 496 U.S. 154, 161-62, 110 L. Ed. 2d 134, 110 S. Ct. 2316 (1990). Thus, considering both the government's agency position pre-litigation and its litigation position, the Court concluded that the government's position was not substantially justified. *fn2" Eleven Vehicles III, 937 F. Supp. at 1154.

 The government's motion for reconsideration is merely a rehash of the arguments it made earlier in the litigation. Upon reexamination, the Court finds no manifest error of law or fact in its holdings, and the government has presented no newly discovered evidence to persuade the Court otherwise. Therefore, the Court denies the government's motion for reconsideration.

 B. The Claimant's Motion for Reconsideration

 The claimants seek reconsideration, in the main, of (1) the Court's Order granting of a certificate of reasonable cause to the government; and (2) the Court's denial of the claimants' ...


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