Key Tronic Corp. v. United States, 511 U.S. 809, 9 (1994)

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Cite as: 511 U. S. 809 (1994)

Opinion of the Court

As we have said, neither 107 nor 113 expressly calls for the recovery of attorney's fees by the prevailing party. In contrast, two SARA provisions contain explicit authority for the award of attorney's fees. A new provision authorizing private citizens to bring suit to enforce the statute, see 100 Stat. 1704-1705, expressly authorizes the award of "reasonable attorney and expert witness fees" to the prevailing party. 42 U. S. C. 9659(f). And an amendment to the section authorizing the Attorney General to bring abatement actions provides that a person erroneously ordered to pay response costs may in some circumstances recover counsel fees from the Government. See 9606(b)(2)(E).8 Since its enactment CERCLA also has expressly authorized the recovery of fees in actions brought by employees claiming discriminatory treatment based on their disclosure of statutory violations. See 9610(c) ("aggregate amount of all costs and expenses (including the attorney's fees)" is recoverable).

Judicial decisions, rather than explicit statutory text, also resolved an issue that arose frequently under the original version of CERCLA—that is, whether the award in a government enforcement action seeking to recover cleanup costs could encompass its litigation expenses, including attorney's fees. Here, too, District Courts generally agreed that such fees were recoverable.9 Congress arguably endorsed these holdings, as well, in the SARA provision redefining the term "response" to include related "enforcement activities," 100

8 Under this section, the reimbursement that a court awards "may include appropriate costs, fees, and other expenses" in accordance with 28 U. S. C. 2412(a) and (d), which outline the procedures by which costs and fees are awarded. Section 2412(d)(2)(A), in particular, defines "fees and other expenses" to include reasonable attorney's fees.

9 See, e. g., United States v. South Carolina Recycling & Disposal, Inc., 653 F. Supp. 984, 1009 (S. C. 1984), aff'd in part and vacated in part, 858 F. 2d 160 (CA4 1988), cert. denied, 490 U. S. 1106 (1989); United States v. Northeastern Pharmaceutical & Chemical Co., 579 F. Supp. 823, 851 (WD Mo. 1984) (same), aff'd in part and rev'd in part, 810 F. 2d 726 (CA8 1986), cert. denied, 484 U. S. 848 (1987).


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