Terri L. Carver

Publication Date


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Survey Article


The Eleventh Circuit ruled on numerous administrative law issues in 1997, including exhaustion of administrative remedies, deference to agency legal interpretations, and the time period for appealing federal agency actions. The Eleventh Circuit also took a close look at the scope of an inspector general's subpoena powers and clarified the role of agency investigations versus inspectors general investigations.

The Eleventh Circuit decided several cases of first impression in 1997. In a case of first impression nationwide, the Eleventh Circuit ruled that determining the amount of attorney fees in an administrative case was a collateral issue.' Therefore, the issue of attorney fees did not toll the time period for seeking judicial review of an administrative decision on the merits.

The Eleventh Circuit also reviewed two cases of first impression within the circuit. First, the court held that a claimant who filed suit against an insolvent financial institution (later taken over by the Resolution Trust Corporation ("RTC")) was not required to exhaust administrative remedies when the defendant RTC initially elected to proceed with the suit. The claims procedures against insolvent financial institutions, as set forth in the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act ("FIRREA"), -governed the court's decision. In the second case, the court ruled the legal standard for survivor's benefits under the Black Lung Benefits program was whether black lung disease "hastened" the miner's death. The court deferred to the agency's interpretation of its regulations on the Black Lung Benefits program.