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Taylor v. United States

March 19, 1987

ORVILLE TAYLOR, APPELLANT
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA



Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania

Seitz, Becker, and Mansmann, Circuit Judges.

Author: Seitz

Opinion OF THE COURT

SEITZ, Circuit Judge.

Plaintiff Orville Taylor appeals the final order of the district court denying his application for attorney fees and costs under the Equal Access to Justice Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2412(d)(1982) (EAJA).*fn1 This court has jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291 (1982).

I.

Taylor enlisted in the United States Navy for a four year term in 1973. In 1977, while he was stationed in Spain, Taylor extended his enlistment for two years. On October 10, 1977, Taylor was involved in an automobile accident in which a Spanish national was killed. The following day the Navy placed Taylor on a legal hold status, which provided that he could not be transferred from or leave Spain without the approval of the Navy Commander in Spain.

On August 7, 1978, Taylor was indicted by a Spanish court. In July 1979 he was convicted of vehicular manslaughter and was fined and sentenced to eighteen months in a Spanish jail. Taylor appealed this decision. Taylor's term of enlistment expired on December 30, 1979, while his appeal was pending. Taylor refused to extend his enlistment voluntarily. The Navy then extended his enlistment involuntarily, and Taylor continued to serve and receive his pay from the Navy until the beginning of November 1980. See Taylor v. United States, 711 F.2d 1199, 1201-02 (3d Cir. 1983).

On November 7, 1980, after Taylor's conviction was affirmed by a Spanish appellate court, the Spanish authorities requested the Naval authorities to deliver Taylor for service of his sentence. Taylor, however, had fled Spain after learning of the adverse decision. The Navy listed him as a deserter.

On May 24, 1982, Taylor was stopped for a traffic violation in Virginia. The police checked his record, discovered he was listed as a deserter, and turned him over the Navy. The Navy then transferred Taylor to the Naval Station in Philadelphia to await transfer to Spain and surrender to the Spanish authorities.*fn2

Taylor filed suit in district court seeking his release from military custody and an order restraining the government from surrendering him to Spanish authorities. The district court granted Taylor's request for an injunction on the ground that the Navy exceeded its authority in extending Taylor's enlistment involuntarily. This court affirmed. 711 F.2d 1199 (3d Cir. 1983).

Taylor then filed an application for fees and expenses under the EAJA. The district court denied Taylor's request, finding his application untimely. This court reversed and remanded the case to the district court. 749 F.2d 171 (3d Cir. 1984). On remand, the district court denied the EAJA petition and Taylor filed this appeal.

II.

Under the EAJA, a prevailing party in a civil action against the United States should be awarded fees and expenses "unless the court finds that the position of the United States was substantially justified or that special circumstances make an award unjust." 28 U.S.C. § 2412(d)(1)(A). Taylor challenges the district court's decision to deny his EAJA request on two grounds. First, he argues that the district court erred in finding the Navy's actions substantially justified. Second, he contends that the district court was without authority to address whether there were "special circumstances" and that no such circumstances exist in this ...


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