Plaut v. Spendthrift Farm, Inc., 514 U.S. 211, 26 (1995)

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236

PLAUT v. SPENDTHRIFT FARM, INC.

Opinion of the Court

ing more than that it applies not merely to new suits commenced after the date of its enactment, but also to previously filed (but not yet terminated) suits of the specified sort. This interpretation would be consistent with the only case the dissent cites, which involved a court-entered consent decree not yet fully executed. Counsel v. Dow, 849 F. 2d 731, 734, 738-739 (CA2 1988). Alternatively, the statute can perhaps be understood to create a new cause of action for attorney's fees attributable to already concluded litigation. That would create no separation-of-powers problem, and would be consistent with this Court's view that "[a]ttorney's fee determinations . . . are 'collateral to the main cause of action' and 'uniquely separable from the cause of action to be proved at trial.' " Landgraf v. USI Film Products, 511 U. S., at 277 (quoting White v. New Hampshire Dept. of Employment Security, 455 U. S. 445, 451-452 (1982)).8

The dissent's perception that retroactive reopening provisions are to be found all about us is perhaps attributable to its inversion of the statutory presumption regarding retroactivity. Thus, it asserts that Rule 60(b) must be retroactive, since "[n]ot a single word in its text suggests that it does not apply to judgments entered prior to its effective date."

8 Even the dissent's scouring the 50 States for support has proved unproductive. It cites statutes from five States, post, at 258-259, nn. 12-13. Four of those statutes involve a virtually identical provision, which permits the state-chartered entity that takes over an insolvent insurance company to apply to have any of the insurer's default judgments set aside. See Del. Code Ann., Tit. 18, 4418 (1989); Fla. Stat. 631.734 (1984); N. Y. Ins. Law 7717 (McKinney Supp. 1995); 40 Pa. Cons. Stat. 991.1716 (Supp. 1994). It is not at all clear, indeed it seems to us unlikely, that these statutes applied retroactively, to judgments that were final before enactment of the scheme that created the state-chartered entity. The last statute involves a discretionary procedure for allowing appeal by pro se litigants, Va. Code Ann. 8.01-428(C) (Supp. 1994). It is obvious that the provision did not apply retroactively, to judgments rendered before the procedures were established.

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