Articles Posted in Government & Administrative Law

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The Delaware Companies challenged Delaware’s right to audit whether funds paid for stored-value gift cards issued by their Ohio-based subsidiaries are held by the Companies and subject to escheatment. Their argument relied on Supreme Court precedent establishing priority among states competing to escheat abandoned property, giving first place to the state where the property owner was last known to reside. If that residence cannot be identified or if that state has disclaimed its interest, second in line is the state where the holder of the abandoned property is incorporated; any other state is preempted from escheating the property. The Companies argued that money left unclaimed by owners of the stored-value cards is held by the Ohio Subsidiaries, so Delaware can have no legitimate escheatment claim and must be barred from auditing the Companies in connection with the gift cards. The Third Circuit held that private parties can invoke federal common law to challenge a state’s authority to escheat property but agreed that dismissal was proper. “The notion that the State cannot conduct any inquiry into abandoned property to verify a Delaware corporation’s representations regarding abandoned property lacks merit” and, to the extent the Companies challenged the scope or means of the audit, the claim is not ripe, since Delaware has taken no formal steps to compel an audit. View "Marathon Petroleum Corp v. Secretary of Finance for the State of Delaware" on Justia Law

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Caremark is a pharmacy benefit manager. In 2006, Caremark employees identified approximately 4,500 Prescription Drug Events (PPDEs) under Medicare Part D that had been authorized for payment by Caremark, but not yet submitted to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), due to the lack of a compatible Prescriber ID. Caremark then used a dummy Prescriber ID for those PDEs and programmed that dummy Prescriber ID into its system. Thereafter, when any claim with a missing or incorrectly formatted Prescriber ID was processed, the system would default to the dummy, which allowed Caremark to submit for payment PDEs without trigging CMS error codes. Spay, a pharmacy auditor, discovered the use of “dummy” Prescriber IDs while auditing a Caremark client. That client dropped all issues identified in the audit, collected no recovery from Caremark, and did not pay Spay. Spay filed a qui tam lawsuit, asserting violations of the False Claims Act because the inaccurate PDEs were used to support reimbursement requests. The government declined to intervene. The court granted Caremark summary judgment, finding that Caremark had established sufficient government knowledge to preclude finding the required element of scienter, noting that several courts have adopted the government knowledge inference doctrine. The Third Circuit affirmed, declining to adopt that doctrine but stating that the misrepresentations were not material to the government’s decision to pay the underlying claims. View "Spay v. CVS Caremark Corp" on Justia Law

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Jeffrey Ware, Ph.D., was a University of Pennsylvania neuroscientist, studying the effects of radiation on biological organisms with the goal of better understanding how radiation affects astronauts while in orbit. Ware used cesium-137 irradiators to track the effects of low-level radiation on mice and rats. In 2010, Ware suffered a rare form of brain cancer, gliosarcoma. His widow, Boyer, claims gliosarcoma is associated with radiation exposure but produced no expert reports and that Ware’s cancer specifically resulted from radiation exposure that UPenn failed to properly monitor, protect against or warn of. Ware underwent chemotherapy and radiation at the University’s hospital. Boyer alleges that Ware was not given appropriate information about these treatments; that, given the advanced stage of his disease, they provided little benefit; and that a UPenn doctor enrolled Ware in a research study to investigate the effects of chemotherapy and radiation on brain cancer patients without his knowing consent. The Third Circuit affirmed the application of the Price-Anderson Act, 42 U.S.C. 2011, and its remedy-limiting provisions to Boyer's suit. The Act gives federal courts jurisdiction to resolve a broad set of claims involving liability for physical harm arising from nuclear radiation. Boyer’s case is within the Act’s reach. View "Estate of Ware v. Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania" on Justia Law

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Tennessee Gas applied to several federal and state agencies seeking approval to build the Orion interstate pipeline project, comprising 12.9 miles of pipeline looping that would transport 135,000 dekatherms of natural gas per day via Pennsylvania. Approximately 99.5% of the new pipeline would run alongside existing pipeline. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection issued a permit approving the project. Riverkeeper argued that the court lacked jurisdiction to rule on its challenge because PADEP’s order was not final and that PADEP made an erroneous “water dependency” finding and improperly rejected a “compression” alternative to the pipeline project. The Third Circuit concluded that PADEP’s decision was final and upheld the decision on the merits because the agency’s unique interpretation of water dependency was reasonable and worthy of deference. PADEP considered and rejected the compression alternative for reasons that are supported by the record. Where an interstate pipeline project is proposed to be constructed,15 U.S.C. 717f provides “original and exclusive jurisdiction over any civil action for the review of an order or action of a . . . State administrative agency acting pursuant to Federal law to issue . . . any permit, license, concurrence, or approval . . . required under Federal law,” View "Delaware Riverkeeper Network v. Secretary, Pennsylvania Department Environmental Protection" on Justia Law

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Misternovo and his sons (Petitioners) are citizens of Guatemala who first entered the U.S. in 1990, 1998, and 2004, respectively. In 1999, Misternovo filed an application for suspension of deportation or special rule cancellation of removal under the Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act (NACARA) that listed his sons as derivatives. USCIS denied the NACARA application. In 2008, the Department of Homeland Security initiated removal proceedings under 8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(6)(A)(i). The Immigration Judge ruled that Petitioners were removable as charged. Later, in January 2012, Misternovo’s NACARA application received a full merits hearing. An Immigration Judge denied that application, holding that Misternovo had failed to establish that he had timely registered for benefits pursuant to the American Baptist Churches v. Thornburgh settlement agreement; an appeal was dismissed by the BIA. More than two years later, Petitioners filed a motion to reopen based on changed country conditions in Guatemala. The BIA denied the motion. The Third Circuit denied a petition for review. The time bar contained in 8 C.F.R. 1003.2(c) applies to motions to reopen based on a request for withholding of removal under the Convention Against Torture. View "Bamaca-Cifuentes v. Attorney General United States" on Justia Law

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About 99.5% of the Orion Project, 12.9 miles of pipeline looping that would transport an additional 135,000 dekatherms per day of natural gas through Pennsylvania, would run alongside existing pipelines. According to Riverkeeper, construction will lead to deforestation, destruction of wetland habitats, and other forms of environmental damage. Riverkeeper asserts that such damage can be avoided by building or upgrading a compressor station. The Army Corps of Engineers, which administers certain provisions of the Clean Water Act, 33 U.S.C. 1344(a), 1362(7) issued a Section 404 permit approving the project. The Third Circuit rejected Riverkeeper’s challenge. The Corps considered the compression alternative but rejected it for reasons supported by the record. While the compression alternative would disturb less land, its impact would be mostly permanent. The pipeline project would disturb more land, but its impact would be mostly temporary. In making a policy choice between those environmental tradeoffs, the agency’s discretion “was at its apex.” View "Delaware Riverkeeper Network v. United States Army Corps of Engineers" on Justia Law

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Vanderklok wanted to fly from Philadelphia to Miami, to run a half-marathon. In his carry-on luggage, he had a heart monitor and watch stored inside a piece of PVC pipe, capped on both ends. During screening at the airport security checkpoint, the pipe and electronics prompted secondary screening, supervised by Transportation Security Administration (TSA) employee Kieser. According to Vanderklok, Kieser was disrespectful, so Vanderklok stated an intent to file a complaint against him. Vanderklok claims that Kieser, in retaliation, called the Philadelphia police and falsely reported that Vanderklok had threatened to bring a bomb to the airport. Vanderklok was arrested. He was acquitted because Kieser’s testimony about Vanderklok’s behavior did not match airport surveillance footage. Vanderklok sued. The district court concluded that Kieser lacked qualified immunity as to Vanderklok’s First Amendment claim and that a reasonable jury could find in Vanderklok’s favor as to his Fourth Amendment claim. The Third Circuit vacated. Because Kieser sought and was denied summary judgment on the merits of Vanderklok’s Fourth Amendment claim, rather than on the basis of qualified immunity, that claim cannot be reviewed on interlocutory appeal. The court concluded that no First Amendment claim against a TSA employee for retaliatory prosecution even exists in the context of airport security screenings. View "Vanderklok v. United States" on Justia Law

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As unclaimed property has become Delaware’s third-largest source of revenue, companies have filed lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of Delaware’s escheat regime. Plains All American Pipeline attacked the constitutionality of several provisions of the Delaware Escheats Law, which provides that a holder of “property presumed abandoned” must file a yearly report with the State Escheator in which it provides information about the property and its possible owner (Del. Code tit. 12, sects. 1142, 1143) and Delaware’s demand that it submit to an abandoned property audit. Because Plains brought suit before Delaware assessed liability based on its audit or sought a subpoena to make its audit-related document requests enforceable, the district court dismissed the suit, finding that the claims were unripe except for an equal protection claim that it dismissed for failure to state a claim. The Third Circuit reversed in part, finding an as-applied, procedural due process claim ripe, but otherwise affirmed. To establish a due process violation, all Plains must show is that it was required to submit a dispute to a self-interested party. No further factual development is needed to address the merits of the claim. View "Plains All American Pipeline LLP v. Cook" on Justia Law

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Long Branch Police Lieutenant Johnson filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), alleging racial discrimination, under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. 2000e, by subjecting him “to different and harsher disciplinary measures than similarly situated white colleagues who committed the same or similar . . . infractions.” The EEOC served Long Branch with a notice to charge and requested “all disciplinary records” for Johnson and six Caucasian comparator officers. Long Branch responded that it would not produce the materials unless the EEOC executed a confidentiality agreement. The EEOC refused to execute the agreement and served a subpoena on Long Branch. The city responded with a “Notice of Motion to Quash Subpoena,” captioned for the Superior Court of New Jersey. A person or entity intending not to comply with an EEOC subpoena must submit a petition to modify or revoke the subpoena to the EEOC’s Director or General Counsel within five days after service, 29 C.F.R. 1601.16(b)(1). Long Branch never did so. The EEOC sought enforcement of its subpoena in federal court. The Third Circuit vacated an order enforcing the subpoena in part without reaching claims concerning exhaustion of administrative remedies and disclosure to the charging party of other employees’ records. The court noted a significant procedural defect pertaining to the treatment of the motion to enforce under the Federal Magistrates Act. View "Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. City of Long Branch" on Justia Law

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In 1993, Congress amended the Communications Act, 47 U.S.C. 151–622, to allow the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to grant electromagnetic spectrum licenses through a system of competitive bidding. The Act requires the FCC to pursue objectives required by statute, including promoting economic opportunity and competition and ensuring that new and innovative technologies are readily accessible to the American people by avoiding excessive concentration of licenses and by disseminating licenses among a wide variety of applicants, including small businesses, rural telephone companies, and businesses owned by members of minority groups and women (designated entities or “DEs”). The FCC’s principal means of fulfilling the statutory objectives for DEs is to confer bidding credits upon small and rural businesses that participate in FCC auctions. Bidding credits operate as a discount on the spectrum DEs purchase, allowing them sometimes to outbid companies that make higher bids. In 2015, the FCC issued a rule indicating that it would cap credits available in future auctions. The Third Circuit concluded the FCC acted legally when it limited the bidding credits available to DEs. The Order: preserved a significant bidding credit program; reviewed data suggesting DE participation would continue despite the proposed caps; and altered other rules to make DEs more competitive. View "Council Tree Investors, Inc. v. Federal Communications Commission" on Justia Law