Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. CRST Van Expedited Inc
ORDER: No later than 30 days from this date of this Order, CRST will submit a brief regarding the issues raised by the Supreme Court. No later than 30 days after CRST files its brief, EEOC will submit a response to CRST's brief. No later than 7 days after EEOC files its response, CRST will submit a reply brief. In light of the foregoing, the 447 Motion for Leave to File Brief Addressing the Impact of the Supreme Court's Ruling on CRST's Pending Fee Request in This Court filed by CRST Van Expedited Inc is denied as moot (see text of Order for details). Signed by Chief Judge Linda R Reade on 10/13/2016. (skm)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF IOWA
CEDAR RAPIDS DIVISION
CRST VAN EXPEDITED, INC.,
The matter before the court is CRST Van Expedited, Inc.’s (“CRST”) “Motion for
Leave to File Brief Addressing the Impact of the Supreme Court’s Ruling” (“Motion”)
(docket no. 447), which CRST filed on June 16, 2016. On June 20, 2016, the Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) filed a Resistance (docket no. 448). On
June 21, 2016, CRST filed a Reply (docket no. 449).
On June 28, 2016, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a Judgment (docket
no. 451), vacating its prior opinion and remanding the case for further proceedings. See
also Mandate (docket no. 452). The Eighth Circuit directed that such further proceedings
be “consistent with the Supreme Court’s opinion in CRST Van Expedited, Inc. v.
E.E.O.C., 136 S. Ct. 1642 (2016).” Judgment at 1.
In CRST Van Expedited, Inc., the Supreme Court reversed the Eighth Circuit’s
holding that a defendant may only be a “prevailing party” under Title VII of the Civil
Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., when the defendant obtains a favorable
ruling on the merits. See CRST Van Expedited, Inc., 136 S. Ct. at 1646. After the
Supreme Court granted certiorari, the EEOC “abandoned its defense of the [Eight
Circuit’s] reasoning” and instead urged the Supreme Court “to hold that a defendant must
obtain a preclusive judgment in order to prevail.” Id. at 1653. The Supreme Court
declined to decide that question and expressed concern that the EEOC may have waived
such argument. Id. The Supreme Court also noted that the parties contested whether the
court’s judgment was preclusive in nature. Id. Having resolved that it would not decide
such issues, the Supreme Court left “these legal and factual issues for the Court of Appeals
to consider in the first instance.” Id. The Supreme Court further declined to find that
failure to satisfy presuit obligations was not frivolous, unreasonable or groundless under
the standard espoused in Christiansburg Garment Co. v. E.E.O.C., 434 U.S. 412 (1978).
Id. The Eighth Circuit did not invite additional briefing or argument on these questions
on remand from the Supreme Court but instead remanded the case for further proceedings.
See Judgment at 1; see also Mandate at 1.
The court finds that it is appropriate for the parties to submit additional briefing
addressing the issues identified by the Supreme Court in CRST Van Expedited, Inc.1 The
The court notes that “[a] vacated opinion has no further force and effect.”
Creighton v. Anderson, 922 F.2d 443, 449 (8th Cir. 1990). “[A]n inferior court has no
power or authority to deviate from the mandate issued by an appellate court.” United
States v. Kennedy, 682 F.3d 244, 252 (3d Cir. 2012) (quoting Briggs v. Pa. R.R. Co., 334
U.S. 304, 306 (1948)). Here, the Eighth Circuit vacated the entirety of its previous
opinion. See Judgment at 1 (“We vacate our prior panel opinion, E.E.O.C. v. CRST Van
Expedited, Inc., 774 F.3d 1169 (8th Cir. 2014), and remand the case to the district court
for further proceedings consistent with the Supreme Court’s opinion in CRST Van
Expedited, Inc., v. E.E.O.C., 136 S.Ct. 1642 (2016).”); Eighth Circuit Order (docket no.
450) at 1 (“[T]his court’s judgment, dated December 22, 2014, is vacated, the mandate is
hereby recalled, and the case is reopened.”). Because that opinion is of no further force
and effect, the court’s original order regarding attorney’s fees stands, save for those
portions to be addressed on remand according to the Eighth Circuit’s mandate. See Aug.
1, 2013 Order (docket no. 400). The court has no power to rehear or readjudicate the
issues addressed in the August 1, 2013 Order not touched upon by the Mandate. See
Kennedy, 682 F.3d at 252 (“Whatever was before the court, and is disposed of, is
considered as finally settled. The inferior court is bound by the decree as the law of the
case; and must carry it into execution, according to the mandate. They cannot vary it, or
examine it for any other purpose than execution; or give any other or further relief; or
review it upon any matter decided on appeal for error apparent; or intermeddle with it,
further than to settle so much as has been remanded.” (quoting Ex parte Sibbald v. United
parties are DIRECTED to brief the following issues: (1) whether a defendant must obtain
a preclusive judgment in order to qualify as a “prevailing party” under Title VII; (2)
whether the dismissal of claims pursuant to the EEOC’s failure to fulfill presuit
requirements constituted a “preclusive judgment”; and (3) whether the EEOC waived this
argument by failing to raise it until the case reached the Supreme Court.2 Accordingly,
the court ORDERS the following briefing schedule:
No later than 30 days from the date of this Order, CRST will submit a
brief, not to exceed twenty pages in length, regarding the issues raised by
the Supreme Court;
No later than 30 days after CRST files its brief, the EEOC will submit a
response to CRST’s brief, not to exceed twenty pages in length; and
No later than 7 days after the EEOC files its response, CRST will submit
a reply brief, if any, not to exceed five pages in length.
In light of the foregoing, the Motion (docket no. 447) is DENIED AS MOOT.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
States, 37 U.S. 488, 492 (1838))). Because of the sweeping language of the Judgment and
Mandate, the only issues before the court on remand are those upon which it shall request
Although the Supreme Court declined to decide the issue of whether the EEOC’s
failure to satisfy its presuit obligations was frivolous, unreasonable or groundless, the court
has already determined that such failure was frivolous, unreasonable or groundless in its
August 1, 2013 Order. See Aug. 1, 2013 Order at 24-25. Nothing in the record has called
into question the court’s determination and therefore, in light of the Mandate and
Judgment, there is nothing for the court to reconsider regarding its original determination
on that issue.
DATED this 13th day of October, 2016.
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