Mo. Real Estate Appraisers Comm'n v. FunkAnnotate this Case
The Missouri Real Estate Appraisers Commission denied Funk’s application for certification as a state-certified appraiser. The Administrative Hearing Commission (AHC) granted the application and, after judicial review, awarded Funk attorney fees (RSMo 536.0871) based on its determination that the Commission’s appeal was not substantially justified because a court is required to defer to the AHC’s factual and credibility findings. The circuit court reversed that award; the Missouri Supreme Court affirmed. A prevailing party in an agency proceeding normally must apply for attorney’s fees from that agency within 30 days of its decision; the request is held in abeyance until final disposition of the case. Because Funk represented himself before the AHC, he did not incur attorney’s fees at the agency level, however, and that requirement had no application. He should have applied for fees with the court of appeals, the first forum in which he prevailed while represented by an attorney. Because Funk wrongly submitted his application to the AHC within 30 days of the final decision by the court of appeals, and only requested attorney’s fees from the court of appeals after the deadline for seeking fees from that court had expired, his request was untimely. The court further stated thatCommission’s position in the original proceeding was reasonably based on fact and law and was substantially justified. The AHC erred in considering evidence that was not before the Commission when it made the decision to deny Funk’s application.