Justia Civil Procedure Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
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Chevron U.S.A. Inc. intends to decommission two oil platforms located off the coast of California. The activity of those platforms is generally subject to the Clean Air Act. Chevron asked the Environmental Protection Agency for guidance on whether, as the process of decommissioning the two oil platforms moves forward, the platforms will cease to qualify as regulated sources under the Clean Air Act. EPA responded in a letter to Chevron. Unsatisfied with the views set out in EPA’s letter, Chevron now seeks judicial review of EPA’s response.The DC Circuit dismissed Chevron’s petition for review. The court wrote that it does not reach the merits of Chevron’s petition for review. In the circumstances of this case, the Clean Air Act’s venue provision allows for judicial review in this court only if EPA’s challenged action is “nationally applicable,” as opposed to “locally or regionally applicable.” 42 U.S.C. Section 7607(b)(1). The court concluded that EPA’s response letter is locally or regionally applicable, and that venue over Chevron’s challenge lies exclusively in the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. View "Chevron U.S.A. Inc. v. EPA" on Justia Law

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The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (“ATF” or the “Bureau”) promulgated a rule classifying “bump stocks” as machine guns. The Bureau’s new rule instructed individuals with bump stocks to either destroy them, abandon them at the nearest ATF facility, or face criminal penalties. Plaintiffs initially moved for a preliminary injunction to stop the rule from taking effect, which the District Court denied, and a panel of this Court affirmed. At the merits stage, the District Court again rejected Plaintiffs’ challenges to the rule under the Chevron framework. See Chevron, U.S.A., Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., 467 U.S. 837 (1984).The central question on appeal was whether the Bureau had the statutory authority to interpret “machine gun” to include bump stocks and the DC Circuit affirmed. In employing the traditional tools of statutory interpretation, the court found that the disputed rule is consistent with the best interpretation of “machine gun” under the governing statutes. The court explained that it joins other circuits in concluding that these devices, which enable such prodigious rapid-fire capability upon a pull of the trigger, fall within the definition of “machine gun” in the National Firearms Act and Gun Control Act. View "Damien Guedes v. ATF" on Justia Law

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Two nursing homes bring interlocutory appeals to this court from orders in two separate cases in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. The plaintiff estate in each case claims that a defendant nursing home failed to provide adequate care and should therefore be held liable for the resident’s death from COVID-19. The district courts denied the defendants’ motions to dismiss based on PREP Act immunity. Defendants invoke a provision of the PREP Act that they claim gives us jurisdiction over these appeals.These cases raise the common threshold question of whether 42 U.S.C. Section 247d-6d(e)(10) empowers us to hear interlocutory appeals from decisions of out-of-circuit district courts rejecting assertions of PREP Act immunity.The DC Circuit concluded that the PREP Act confers interlocutory appellate jurisdiction on the court only from orders of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia (D.D.C.) denying motions to dismiss or for summary judgment in willful misconduct cases—a distinct, limited cause of action that subsection 247d-6d(d) of the PREP Act excepts from its broad grant of immunity and channels to the federal district court here. Because PREP Act subsection 247d6d(e)(10) does not authorize interlocutory appeals to this court from orders of district courts elsewhere allowing other types of claims to proceed despite assertions of PREP Act immunity, the court dismissed the appeals. View "Christopher Beaty, Jr. v. Fair Acres Geriatric Center" on Justia Law

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Two nursing homes bring interlocutory appeals to this court from orders in two separate cases in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. The Plaintiffs' estate in each case claims that a defendant nursing home failed to provide adequate care and should therefore be held liable for the resident’s death from COVID-19. The district courts denied Defendant's motions to dismiss based on PREP Act immunity. Defendants invoked a provision of the PREP Act that they claim gives us jurisdiction over these appeals.The DC Circuit dismissed the appeals, holding that the PREP Act subsection 247d6d(e)(10) does not authorize interlocutory appeals to this court from orders of district courts elsewhere allowing other types of claims to proceed despite assertions of PREP Act immunity. View "Anne Cannon v. Watermark Retirement Communities, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff believes that officials in the Department of Justice (and elsewhere) have persecuted him for supporting the Irish republican cause. So he sued the United States Attorney General and the Department of Justice Inspector General. On February 24, 2021, the district court dismissed his suit. At least seventy-five days later, Plaintiff filed a notice of appeal in the district court. This Court noted that Plaintiff had filed his notice of appeal after the sixty-day deadline imposed by Congress in 28 U.S.C. Section 2107(b).On appeal, the DC Circuit was tasked with deciding whether Plaintiff’s response to the court’s show-cause order can be combined with his notice of appeal in the district court to serve as a substitute for a motion to extend or reopen the time to file a notice of appeal. The DC Circuit affirmed the dismissal holding that his appeal was untimely. The court explained that Plaintiff’s response to the court’s show-cause order was nothing more than a request to the court for an equitable exemption from the jurisdictional deadline. Accordingly, the court wrote it has no power to grant that equitable relief. View "Joseph Ladeairous v. Merrick Garland" on Justia Law

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In 2016, the Secretary of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) issued a final rule that implemented The Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014 (“PAMA” or “Act”), definition of “applicable laboratory” (“2016 Rule”). The American Clinical Laboratory Association (“ACLA”) filed a lawsuit challenging the 2016 Rule as arbitrary and capricious under the Administrative Procedure Act (“APA”) on the basis that it depresses Medicare reimbursement rates by excluding most hospital laboratories from PAMA’s reporting requirements. ACLA contended that because hospital laboratories tend to charge higher prices than standalone laboratories, their exclusion from reporting obligations results in an artificially low weighted median.   On remand, the parties cross-moved for summary judgment. The district court declined to reach the merits of ACLA’s APA challenge to the 2016 Rule, based on its determination that the Secretary had issued a new rule (“2018 Rule”) that superseded the 2016 Rule and mooted ACLA’s lawsuit.   The DC Circuit concluded that the case is not moot. Accordingly, the court reversed the district court’s dismissal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and reached the merits of ACLA’s APA claim. The court explained that the 2016 Rule is arbitrary and capricious because the agency “failed to consider an important aspect of the problem.” The court wrote that PAMA provides that an applicable laboratory “means a laboratory that” receives “a majority” of its Medicare revenues from the Physician Fee Schedule or Clinical Laboratory Fee Schedule. Thus, hospital laboratories that provide outreach services may, in some instances, constitute “applicable laboratories” under PAMA. View "American Clinical Laboratory Association v. Xavier Becerra" on Justia Law

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Crowley Government Services, Inc. sued the General Services Administration and its Administrator (collectively, GSA), seeking declaratory and injunctive relief to halt the GSA’s purported practice of interfering with payments owed to Crowley under its contract with the United States Transportation Command (TRANSCOM). Crowley argued the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), and the general federal question statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1331, conferred subject matter jurisdiction on the district court to review the GSA’s alleged violation of the Contract Disputes Act of 1978, and the Transportation Act of 1940. The question this case presented for the Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia's review was whether Crowley’s suit against the GSA, whichwasis not a party to Crowley’s contract with TRANSCOM, was “at its essence” contractual, including whether Crowley “in essence” sought more than $10,000 in monetary relief from the federal government such that it was subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the United States Court of Federal Claims (Claims Court) pursuant to the Tucker Act. The district court answered affirmatively and dismissed Crowley’s complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The Court of Appeals disagreed: Crowley’s action against the GSA in district court was not “at its essence” contractual because Crowley did not seek to enforce or recover on the contract with TRANSCOM. Nor did Crowley “in essence” seek monetary relief from the federal government in district court. Rather, it requested declaratory and injunctive relief that, if granted, would have considerable value independent of (and not negligible in comparison to) any monetary recovery Crowley may ultimately attain in other proceedings. Accordingly, judgment was reversed and remanded to the district court for further proceedings. View "Crowley Government Services, Inc. v. GSA" on Justia Law

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The city of Scottsdale, Arizona filed a petition challenging the Federal Aviation Administration’s approval of certain east-bound flight paths out of the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, claiming the flights resulted in injury to the city because planes flying along those routes produce noise and pollution on property that the city owns.The D.C. Circuit denied Scottsdale's petition, holding that, while this is the type of harm that could confer standing, Scottsdale was unable to identify evidence proving the city suffered actual harm. The City presented no evidence of increased noise or pollution. View "City of Scottsdale, Arizona v. FAA" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs sued the Inter-American Development Bank (the “IDB” or the “Bank”), alleging that the IDB violated its internal investigatory procedures when investigating allegations that the Plaintiffs had engaged in “Prohibited Practices”—e.g., corruption, fraud, coercion, collusion, obstruction and misappropriation—in the performance of IDB-financed contracts, an investigation that ultimately led to the imposition of severe sanctions against the Plaintiffs. The IDB moved to dismiss the suit for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, asserting immunity under the International Organizations Immunities Act (IOIA), 22 U.S.C. Sections 288–288l. Plaintiffs countered that their case fell within two exceptions to IOIA immunity: the commercial activity exception and the waiver exception. Rejecting the Plaintiffs’ arguments, the district court granted the IDB’s motion to dismiss.   The DC Circuit affirmed the district court’s ruling, holding that Plaintiffs’ cases did not fall within the IOIA immunity exceptions. The court reasoned that in the context of a multilateral bank like the IDB, the Court has generally looked to whether waiver of immunity serves to “enhance the marketability” of an international organization’s financial products “and the credibility of its activities in the lending markets. Weighing the costs and benefits here, the court saw no reason to find a waiver of immunity. It is true that the IDB is obligated to, among other things, “promote the investment of public and private capital for development purposes” and “encourage private investment,” IDB Charter art. I, Section 2(a), meaning that the Plaintiffs’ argument that judicial review would assuage commercial partners’ “fears that [the Sanctions Procedures] will be applied in bad faith,” and thereby promote investment, is, at the very least, colorable. View "Noah Rosenkrantz v. Inter-American Development Bank" on Justia Law

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Petitioner, a pharmaceutical company, is a drug manufacturer seeking to market various strengths and formulations of generic theophylline, a drug used to treat asthma and other respiratory conditions. To that end, Petitioner submitted a supplemental abbreviated new drug application to the Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”). This application remains pending. As part of the FDA’s review process, an agency division sent Nostrum a so-called “complete response letter” that flagged deficiencies in the application and explained how Nostrum could remedy them. Petitioner sought reconsideration of only a portion of the complete response letter, which the division denied.   Petitioner petitioned for review of the complete response letter and the denial of reconsideration. The DC Circuit rejected Petitioner’s application for reconsideration, holding that it lacks jurisdiction because neither agency action constitutes a final rejection of the application. Rather, a complete response letter is an interim step in the FDA’s consideration of an application. More must happen before the FDA’s final determination on the application is made. The facts of this case underscore the unfinished nature of the agency process at the complete-response-letter stage. Since petitioning this court for review, Petitioner has continued to press for approval of its still-pending application before the agency. View "Nostrum Pharmaceuticals LLC v. FDA" on Justia Law