by
The Hospitals challenged HHS's implementation of a Medicare outlier-payment program in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The Hospitals contend that HHS violated the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), 5 U.S.C. 551 et seq., by failing to identify and appropriately respond to flaws in its methodology that enabled certain "turbo-charging" hospitals to manipulate the system and receive excessive payments at the expense of non-turbo-charging hospitals, including the Hospitals. The DC Circuit held that District Hospital Partners, L.P. v. Burwell, 786 F.3d 46 (D.C. Cir. 2015), controlled to the extent that the Hospitals repeated challenges decided in that case. In regard to the remaining challenges, the court affirmed the district court's denials of the Hospitals' motions to supplement the record and to amend their complaint, and its decision that HHS acted reasonably in a manner consistent with the Medicare Act in fiscal years (FYs) 1997 through 2003, and 2007. However, because HHS inadequately explained aspects of the calculations for FYs 2004 through 2006, the court reversed summary judgment in that regard and remanded for further proceedings. View "Banner Health v. Price" on Justia Law

by
The DC Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of defendant's pre-trial motion to dismiss the indictment for prosecutorial vindictiveness, and in permitting the government to make improper statements at trial. Defendant was convicted of fraudulently obtaining unemployment benefits from the District of Columbia Department of Employment Services. Assuming arguendo that a presumption of vindictiveness were warranted, the court held that the district court rightly concluded that the government met its burden of producing objective evidence justifying the prosecution's charging decisions. The court also held that no precedent or legal norm barred prosecutors from eliciting testimony about a dismissal motion when a defendant opens the door in the manner that defendant did. Nor did the references to the denied motion to dismiss prejudice defendant because any prejudice was extinguished by the district court's instruction. Finally, the prosecutor's statement that there was "one in nearly 60 million" possibility that there must have been a computer glitch was nothing more than a rhetorical flourish and there was no plain error in this case. View "United States v. Meadows" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
The fact that most people now carry a cell phone was not enough to justify an intrusive search of a place lying at the center of the Fourth Amendment's protections—a home—for any phone defendant might own. Defendant appealed the district court's denial of his motion to suppress evidence after he was convicted of unlawful possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Although the warrant authorized officers to search for and seize all cell phones and other electronic devices in defendant's residence, the supporting affidavit offered almost no reason to suspect that defendant in fact owned a cell phone, or that any phone or other device containing incriminating information would be found in his apartment. The DC Circuit vacated defendant's conviction and held that the warrant to search defendant's residence was unsupported by probable cause and rejected the government's arguments that, even if the warrant was invalid, the firearm still need not have been excluded from the evidence against him. View "United States v. Griffith" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
Menorah petitioned for review of the Board's finding that Menorah had violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). The DC Circuit set aside the Board's determination that Menorah improperly denied the nurses' requests for union representation in the peer-review-committee hearings: when, as here, employees were not obligated to take part in an investigatory hearing, there was no requirement that they be permitted to bring a union representative if they elect to participate; sustained the Board's decision in all other respects, including the Board's finding that Menorah committed unfair labor practices in denying the union's request for information about the peer-review committee and in maintaining a confidentiality rule barring workers from discussing incidents subject to the committee's oversight; and therefore granted the petition in part and enforced the Board's order in part. View "Midwest Division - MMC, LLC v. NLRB" on Justia Law

by
SecurityPoint, which contracts with airports to participate in an advertising program established by the TSA, petitioned for review of the TSA's decision to revise its memorandum of understanding (MOU) used with participating airports. The DC Circuit denied the petition for review, holding that the agency's decision was not arbitrary and capricious but rather demonstrated a rational connection between the facts found and the choice made. Unlike the TSA's 2013 letter, its 2015 letter also provided the brief statement of the grounds for denial required by 5 U.S.C. 555(e); it fully explained why the agency chose to do what it did. Furthermore, TSA's decision was not an attempt to punish SecurityPoint for having sued the agency. View "SecurityPoint Holdings, Inc. v. TSA" on Justia Law

by
Plaintiff, an African-American, filed suit against DHS, alleging that the Department's decision to give a promotion for which he was qualified to a Caucasian female employee just four weeks after he had complained of race and age discrimination was unlawful retaliation. The DC Circuit reversed the district court's dismissal of his retaliation claim for failure to exhaust remedies, holding that plaintiff expressly raised the non-promotion retaliation claim in his equal employment opportunity complaint. The record at this early procedural juncture showed that plaintiff came forth with sufficient factual allegations and inferences to require, at a minimum, that he be afforded discovery before summary judgment proceedings. Because the record contained a number of plausible factual disputes pertaining to plaintiff's claims of retaliation that could not be resolved on a motion for summary judgment, the court remanded those claims to the district court for further proceedings. View "Coleman v. Duke" on Justia Law

by
Sierra Club challenged the Department's grant of an application to export liquified natural gas (LNG) using terminals and liquefaction facilities (Freeport Terminal) on Quintana Island. On the merits, the DC Circuit held that the Department did not fail to fulfill its obligations under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) by declining to make specific projections about environmental impacts stemming from specific levels of export-induced gas production; the Department did not fail to fulfill its obligations with respect to the potential for the U.S. electric power sector to switch from gas to coal in response to higher gas prices; the court rejected Sierra Club's challenges to the Department's examination of the potential greenhouse-gas emissions resulting from the indirect effects of exports; and Sierra Club has given the court no reason to question the Department's judgment that the FLEX application was not inconsistent with the public interest. Accordingly, the court denied the petition for review. View "Sierra Club v. DOE" on Justia Law

by
Healthcare Providers sought a mandamus order to force the HHS Secretary to clear the administrative appeals backlog and adhere to the Medicare statute's timeframe to complete the process. The district court subsequently determined that mandamus was appropriate and adopted Healthcare Provider's proposed timetable when the Secretary refused to engage with the premise of setting a timetable at all and proposed no alternative targets. The DC Circuit held that, notwithstanding the district court's earnest efforts to make do with what the parties presented, the failure to seriously test the Secretary's assertion of impossibility and to make a concomitant finding of possibility was an abuse of discretion. Accordingly, the court vacated the mandamus order and the order denying reconsideration, and remanded to the district court to evaluate the merits of the Secretary's claim that unlawful compliance would be impossible. View "American Hospital Assoc. v. Price" on Justia Law

by
Plaintiff filed suit under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), seeking information pertaining to a former informant. The district court granted summary judgment to the FBI and denied plaintiff's motions for interim attorney fees. The district court eventually dismissed the case after plaintiff failed to file objections to the government's latest explanation for withholding information. Given the limited scope of plaintiff's FOIA request, challenges to the adequacy of the search were rejected. The DC Circuit affirmed the district court's remaining decisions, holding that the district court correctly found that the records in this case met the threshold for FOIA's law-enforcement exemption, and the district court acted within its authority in denying plaintiff's motions for interim attorney fees and in dismissing the remainder of the case. View "Clemente v. FBI" on Justia Law

by
Plaintiff filed suit alleging claims that employees of Cities Restaurant and Lounge, and the Metropolitan Police Department officers they summoned, reacted overly harshly when she raised a question about her bill and temporarily left the restaurant. The DC Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress claims and the negligence claims against Officer Lee and the District of Columbia; affirmed the grant of summary judgment to Defendant Duru on all claims against him; and vacated the judgment on all remaining claims and remanded for further proceedings. The court held that allegations of the complaint sufficiently made out claims under 42 U.S.C. 1983 for false arrest and excessive force, as well as common law assault, false arrest, and false imprisonment against Officer Lee. Finally, the evidence was sufficient to create material factual disputes on the common law battery claim against Officer Lee, and the defamation, negligence, and conversion claims against Cities. View "Hall v. District of Columbia" on Justia Law