Justia U.S. D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

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Appellants, Campaign Legal Center and Catherine Hinckley Kelley filed a lawsuit against the Federal Election Commission (“Commission” or “FEC”). Appellants contended that the Commission’s decision to dismiss their complaint alleging violations of the Federal Election Campaign Act (“Act” or “FECA”) during the 2016 presidential election cycle by the political committee Correct the Record (“CTR”) and Hillary Clinton’s campaign committee, Hillary for America, was contrary to law. CTR and Hillary for America (together, “Intervenors”) intervened as defendants in this suit.The court held that Appellants have standing to sue, reasoning that, “a denial of access to information qualifies as an injury in fact where a statute (on the claimants’ reading) requires that the information be publicly disclosed and there is no reason to doubt their claim that the information would help them.” The court found that the information Appellants seek is not currently known and it cannot be gleaned from the disclosures that have already been made by CTR and Hillary for America. The court stated there is no doubt that disaggregation of the existing disclosures would reveal the amounts of any coordinated contributions. It is also clear that the amounts that CTR contributed to the Clinton campaign constitute factual information that is subject to disclosure under the statute.Appellants have demonstrated a quintessential informational injury directly related to their “interest in knowing how much money a candidate spent in an election.” Thus, the court reversed the district court’s dismissal for lack of standing and remand for further proceedings. View "Campaign Legal Center v. FEC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Election Law
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Plaintiff, a hospice provider, challenges the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) methodology, contending that it violates both the Medicare statute and the Budget Control Act and that CMS did not follow the required administrative procedures for adopting it.According to Plaintiff, the sequestration methodology violated the statute and the regulation by adding back the sequestration reduction withheld from the preliminary disbursements into the equation, such that — for overpayment purposes — funds the providers did not actually receive were being counted against them. Plaintiff contends that CMS was required to use the net payments methodology instead of the sequestration methodology.The court held that the regulations and guidance do not support Plaintiff’s contention that the statute unambiguously requires the net payments methodology. Reasoning that section 1395f(i)(2)(A) does not mandate any one methodology for applying the aggregate cap. Further, the plain meaning of the statute gives no instruction as to how overpayments should be calculated, the court concludes the statute is “silent . . . with respect to the specific issue” of what methodology CMS must use in applying the aggregate cap. Further, because the Secretary’s chosen methodology comports with the statutory text, purpose, and operation, Plaintiff has not shown that the Board’s decision was “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with law.” Thus, the court affirmed the district court’s grant of summary judgment to the Secretary and denial of summary judgment to Plaintiff. View "Gentiva Health Services, Inc. v. Becerra" on Justia Law

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Appellant, a California critical access hospital, sought Medicare reimbursement for the cost of keeping specialty doctors on call. Under the federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act, hospitals providing emergency room service must stabilize patients before releasing them or transferring them to another hospital. Additionally, California law requires all hospitals to perform certain procedures, including surgery. Appellant claims that it cannot comply with both state and federal law unless it can pay on-call compensation to specialists in surgery, obstetrics, pediatrics, and cardiology.Affirming the district court’s ruling, the D.C. Circuit held that Appellant is not entitled to Medicare reimbursement for the cost of keeping various specialty doctors on call. Appellant’s federal obligation to stabilize patients before release does not necessarily imply the need for various specialists. Thus, the Provider Reimbursement Review Board (“the Board”) reasonably concluded that Appellant had the ability to stabilize patients with existing emergency room physicians and that specialists were not required to be on call.Regarding Appellant’s state obligations, the Board’s conclusion that Appellant could satisfy the requirements by keeping a physician with surgical training on-site was reasonable. View "St. Helena Clear Lake Hospital v. Xavier Becerra" on Justia Law

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In 2010, Plaintiff filed several employment claims against her employer. In 2013, the parties reached a settlement agreement. However, before the parties reached their agreement, Plaintiff resigned in lieu of termination. Plaintiff then filed a subsequent claim against her employer, alleging retaliation.The D.C. Circuit held that the initial settlement agreement did not preclude Plaintiff’s ability to bring a retaliation claim. The parties’ initial agreement released Plaintiff’s employer for “all claims” related to her employment; however, it also carved out various exceptions, including Plaintiff’s ability to pursue any claims she raised in her separate grievance, including her claim under the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The D.C. Circuit remanded the case for the district court to determine if Plaintiff properly presented the claim for consideration. View "Karin Weng v. Martin J. Walsh" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, a group of Cuban physicians, filed suit against PAHO for its role in facilitating Brazil's Mais Médicos program, under which Brazil hired foreign physicians to augment its medical services provided to impoverished Brazilians. Plaintiffs alleged that PAHO acted as a financial intermediary between Brazil and Cuba. PAHO moved to dismiss the suit, asserting immunity under both the International Organizations Immunities Act (IOIA) and the World Health Organization (WHO) Constitution.The DC Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of PAHO's motion to dismiss plaintiffs' claim that PAHO acted as a financial intermediary, concluding PAHO was not entitled to immunity under the IOIA because plaintiffs have sufficiently alleged that PAHO's conduct of moving money for a fee constituted commercial activity carried on in the United States. The court also agreed with the district court that the WHO Constitution did not render PAHO immune where the provision at issue, Article 67(a), is not self-executing because Article 68 of the WHO Constitution provides that the privileges and immunities shall be defined in a separate agreement. The court remanded for further proceedings. View "Matos Rodriguez v. Pan American Health Organization" on Justia Law

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The DC Circuit denied petitions for review of petitioners' applications for whistleblower awards resulting from a successful SEC enforcement action. The court concluded that the SEC properly denied petitioners' award applications under its reasonable and longstanding interpretation of the relevant regulation, which sets forth three scenarios allowing for the issuance of a whistleblower award—none of which encompasses the additional scenario proposed by petitioners. In this case, the SEC's interpretation reflects it authoritative and official position; the interpretation implicates the Commission's substantive expertise in implementing the whistleblower program; and the SEC's reading reflects its fair and considered judgment. Therefore, given that the text of Rule 21F-4(c) is genuinely ambiguous, the SEC’s interpretation is entitled to deference pursuant to the interpretive guideposts announced by the Supreme Court in Kisor v. Wilkie, 139 S. Ct. 2400, 2415–16 (2019). The court also concluded that petitioners' additional arguments are either forfeited or meritless. View "Doe v. Securities and Exchange Commission" on Justia Law

Posted in: Securities Law
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Eight years after Belgium extradited defendant, a Tunisian national, to stand trial in the United States on terrorism charges, the trial has yet to take place. In this appeal, defendant challenged the district court's denial of his motions to reconsider dismissing the indictment in light of intervening, and conflicting, Belgian legal developments.The DC Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment, concluding that the Belgian legal developments defendant invokes do not constitute significant new evidence that would warrant disturbing this court's 2017 decision affirming the district court's denial of his motion to dismiss the indictment. The court stated that defendant has selectively picked and chosen phrases from these documents to argue that this court must defer to the Belgian courts' interpretation of Article 5 and revisit its decision in Trabelsi II. However, the court concluded that none of the intervening decisions, communications, or pleadings present significant new evidence or detract from the deference this court owes to the Belgian state. Therefore, defendant has failed to meet the significantly high burden for departing from the law of the case. View "United States v. Trabelsi" on Justia Law

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About seven weeks after the 2020 presidential election, Republican state legislators, individual voters, and organizations representing voters from Wisconsin, Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, and Pennsylvania—all states carried by Joseph R. Biden Jr.—sued to prevent Congress from certifying their states’ electoral results. The district court denied their motion to enjoin the counting of electoral votes, and, after the Senate certified Biden as the winner, the plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed their case. In a post-dismissal order cataloging the suit’s “numerous shortcomings,” the district court referred plaintiffs’ counsel, Kaardal, to the Committee on Grievances for possible discipline. “When any counsel seeks to target processes at the heart of our democracy,” the district court reasoned, “the Committee may well conclude that they are required to act with far more diligence and good faith than existed here.”The D.C. Circuit dismissed an appeal for lack of jurisdiction. The district court’s referral is not a final order. Rather than fixing Kaardal’s rights and liabilities, the challenged order merely initiated disciplinary proceedings. View "Wisconsin Voters Alliance v. Harris" on Justia Law

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LSP, an independent electric transmission developer, bids on proposals to build transmission projects throughout the U.S. LSP sought judicial review of a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) decision under 16 U.S.C. 824e concerning ISO New England’s compliance with Commission Order 1000, which required “the removal from Commission-jurisdictional tariffs and agreements” of rights of first refusal to construct transmission facilities and directed incumbent transmission providers to engage in competitive selection of developers. FERC recognized an exception if the time needed to solicit and conduct competitive bidding would delay the project and thereby threaten system “reliability.” FERC found “insufficient evidence” that ISO was incorrectly implementing Order 1000.The D.C. Circuit denied LSP’s petition for judicial review, first holding that FERC’s ruling bears all the indicia of a substantive decision produced after a contested proceeding involving ISO and numerous intervenors and is subject to judicial review. The court found nothing irrational in FERC’s response to LSP’s general criticism of ISO’s use of more conservative assumptions regarding its system capacity and future management in determining when to apply the exception. Although the number of reliability projects exempted from competitive bidding exceeded those open to competition, the appropriate balance between competitive procurement and quick redress of reliability needs is a policy judgment for FERC. View "LSP Transmission Holdings II, LLC v. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission" on Justia Law

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The LA Times appeals the district court's denial of its motions to unseal court records relating to a search warrant allegedly executed on Senator Richard Burr in connection with an insider-trading investigation and the government's memorandum opposing its motion to unseal.The DC Circuit remanded the case to the district court to reconsider its common law analysis in light of new disclosures from a related investigation by the SEC and Senator Burr's public acknowledgment of the Justice Department's investigation, as well as precedent governing how the common law right should be balanced against competing interests. The district court shall reconsider the L.A. Times' challenge that it was fundamentally disadvantaged by the district court's decision to seal the government's opposition memorandum and attached exhibits. View "Los Angeles Times Communications LLC v. United States" on Justia Law