Colorado Law Alumnus Wins Unanimous Decision at U.S. Supreme Court

June 3, 2013

Colorado Law congratulates Bob Fishman (’92), an appellate attorney at the Denver firm of Ridley McGreevy & Winocur, on receiving a big victory at the U.S. Supreme Court early last week. In a 9-0 decision in Sebelius v. Cloer, the Court ruled that plaintiffs are entitled to recover their attorneys’ fees for claims filed under the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act, even if the claims are ultimately dismissed for being filed too late. Fishman joined the legal team when the case first reached the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals, and became involved as a result of having previously done a significant amount of appellate work for the law firm of Kaye & Bush—the attorneys who initially brought the case.

The case provided Fishman with his first opportunity to appear before the nation’s highest court, and he identified a number of rewarding aspects of the experience. “First of all, winning 9-0 is pretty satisfying, particularly in a case against the Solicitor General, who wins ninety percent of the time in cases where he represents the petitioner against an opposing party represented by counsel who is not a Supreme Court ‘specialist.’”

Fishman also found great satisfaction from the fact that he was able to appear before the Court in the first place. He pointed out that there is a small group of Supreme Court specialists—lawyers (usually from Washington, D.C.) who have extensive experience arguing before the Court and have developed a highly specialized practice—who argue the overwhelming majority of cases before the Court. “When cert is granted, these specialists usually offer to take the case over and do it for free, provided that they are the ones who get to argue the case, so it was very gratifying that the lawyers who got me involved initially had the confidence to let me handle the case in the Supreme Court,” explained Fishman.

In addition, Fishman found personal and professional satisfaction from the opinion itself. “The Court’s analysis and reasoning tracks the substance of our brief very closely,” he said. “You always want to write a brief that provides the court with a sort of roadmap on how to decide a case in your favor, and there is a real sense of validation when a court follows that map as closely as the Court did in this case.”