On April 26, the Federal Circuit issued a decision in Crawford v. United States (a C&M case), holding that a U.S. Army combat veteran is entitled to recover his attorneys’ fees arising from a dispute related to obtaining medical retirement benefits earned during his service. In the underlying dispute on remand to the Army Board for Correction of Military Records from the Court of Federal Claims (COFC), Mr. Crawford obtained full relief, including nearly a decade of retirement benefits that he was unlawfully deprived of due to his erroneous administrative discharge, but Mr. Crawford was initially denied recovery of his attorneys’ fees under the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA). Mr. Crawford appealed, and the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit unanimously reversed the COFC, holding that (1) even though the COFC’s remand order stated that it was based on judicial economy, the substance of the Government’s admissions in the case amounted to an “implicit” concession of error, and (2) the Government’s legal position was not “substantially justified” under the relevant EAJA standards. The Federal Circuit then remanded the case to the COFC to determine the quantum of legal fees to be awarded to Mr. Crawford.
Once recovered, Crowell & Moring’s legal fees will be provided to the National Veterans Legal Services Program (NVLSP), where they will be used to support future Veterans appeals. NVLSP noted the decision makes important law on EAJA recovery in Veterans’ cases, and “will hugely impact all of Lawyers Serving Warriors’ work at the Court of Federal Claims.” The full NVLSP press release is available here.