Akers v. Nicholson

409 F.3d 1356 (2005)

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Akers v. Nicholson

United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
409 F.3d 1356 (2005)

Facts

John Briddell and Mabel Akers (plaintiffs) were both involved in legal disputes with the Department of Veterans Affairs (the VA) (defendant). Briddell was seeking an increase in the rating for his service-connected-disability benefits, and Akers was disputing a debt the VA claimed she owed for the simultaneous collection of a VA pension and Social Security disability benefits. Both Briddell’s and Akers’s claims eventually came before the United States Court of Appeals for the Veterans Court (the veterans court). The veterans court remanded both claims back to the Board of Veterans Appeals (the board). Briddell’s claim was remanded for reconsideration under a newly passed veterans-claims-assistance law. Akers’s claim was remanded in light of another recent veterans-court decision that had addressed forgiveness of debts owed to the VA. Following the remands, both Briddell and Akers sought an award of attorney fees and expenses under the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA). The veterans court denied both requests, finding that neither Briddell nor Akers was entitled to an EAJA award because they had not been the prevailing party in their claim. Briddell and Akers both appealed the denial to the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (the federal circuit). The federal circuit addressed both appeals in one opinion due to the similarity of the cases.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Rader, J.)

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