U.S. Supreme Court
Public Health — vaccines
An untimely NCVIA petition may qualify for an award of attorney’s fees if it is filed in good faith and there is a reasonable basis for its claim.
The Government’s argument that the 36-month limitations period is a statutory prerequisite for filing lacks textual support. First, there is no cross-reference to the Act’s limitations provision in its fees provision, §300aa–15(e), or the referenced §300aa–11(a)(1). Second, reading the provision to provide that “no petition may be filed for compensation” late, as the Government asks, would require the Court to conclude that a petition like Cloer’s, which was “filed” under that term’s ordinary meaning but was later found to be untimely, was never filed at all. This Court’s “inquiry ceases [where, as here,] ‘the statutory language is unambiguous and “the statutory scheme is coherent and consistent.” ’ ” Barnhart v. Sigmon Coal Co., 534 U. S. 438. The Government’s contrary position is also inconsistent with the fees provision’s purpose, which was to avoid “limit[ing] petitioners’ ability to obtain qualified assistance” by making awards available for “non-prevailing, good-faith claims.” H. R. Rep. No. 99–908, pt. 1, p. 22.
675 F. 3d 1358, affirmed.