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House Bill Would Allow Recovery of Legal Fees from US

June 24, 1985

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The House passed by voice vote Monday a bill that would allow those bringing successful legal actions against the federal government to recover attorneys fees and expenses - if they meet certain requirements.

The legislation, which went to the Senate, would limit eligibility to those with a net worth of less than $2 million; and to businesses or local governments that have a net worth of less than $7 million and employ fewer than 500 people.

In addition, the federal government could be excused from paying fees if it could demonstrate that actions leading to the legal proceeding were substantially justified.

The Congressional Budget Office estimated the cost of awards would total $3.1 million in the 1986 fiscal year and $7.1 million in fiscal 1990.

A former reimbursement law, the Equal Access to Justice Act of 1980, was enacted as a three-year experiment which expired Oct. 1, 1984. About $3.9 million was awarded during that period.

A 1984 bill to extend the program was vetoed by President Reagan, who said the measure would have created too broad a liability and resulted in too many awards.

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