Ray Haluch Gravel Co. v. Central Pension Fund (U.S. Supreme Court)
In Budinich v. Becton Dickinson & Co., 486 U.S. 196 (1988), the U.S. Supreme Court held that a district court decision that fully resolves the merits of the litigation, but leaves the award or amount of attorneys’ fees authorized by statute to be determined, is a “final decision” under 28 U.S.C. § 1291 that must be appealed within 30 days. We filed a petition for certiorari on the question whether the same rule applies to attorneys’ fees authorized by a contract. The Court granted our petition and unanimously reversed the First Circuit, which had held that Budinich’s rule did not apply to the contractual attorneys’ fees awarded in this case. The Supreme Court agreed with our position that the Budinich rule applies to all attorneys’ fees— whether authorized by a statute, a contract, or both— and that it extends to non-attorney professional fees incurred in the litigation, such as expert-witness fees. Accordingly, the respondents’ notice of appeal, which was filed less than 30 days after the district court’s decision on attorneys’ fees but more than 30 days after the district court’s earlier decision on the merits, was untimely as to the merits decision.