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In 2008, the U.S. government strove to rescue the collapsing economy, including by enacting the Housing and Economic Recovery Act, which authorized the government to act as conservator for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, government-sponsored enterprises with critical roles in the home mortgage market. Under that conservatorship, Fannie and Freddie made a deal with the Department of Treasury, guaranteeing those agencies access to hundreds of billions of dollars; they had to give their net profits to the Treasury—in perpetuity. Fannie’s and Freddie’s junior shareholders had expected to share in those future profits. The agreement wiped out that expectation. The Third Circuit rejected challenges by those junior shareholders. The Recovery Act gave the government broad, discretionary power to enter into the deal and the deal complies with the requirements of the Act, as well as Delaware and Virginia corporate law. In addition, the relief sought would “restrain or affect the exercise of [the government’s] powers” as conservator, which the Recovery Act forbids, 12 U.S.C. 4617(f). View "Jacobs v. Federal Housing Finance Agency" on Justia Law

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The Tennessee Hospital Association and three hospitals sued, challenging efforts by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to direct states to recoup certain reimbursements made under the Medicaid program. The hospitals serve a disproportionate share of Medicaid-eligible patients and are thereby entitled to supplemental payments under the Medicaid Act, (DSH payments), 42 U.S.C. 1396a(a)(13)(A)(iv); 1396r-4(b). The Act limits the amount of DSH payments each hospital can receive in a given year. CMS contends that the hospitals miscalculated their DSH payment-adjustments for fiscal year 2012 and received extra payments. Plaintiffs argued, and the district court agreed, that CMS’s approach to calculating DSH payment adjustments is inconsistent with the Act and the regulations that CMS implemented in 2008. The Sixth Circuit affirmed, agreeing that CMS’s policy is inconsistent with its 2008 rule and cannot be enforced unless it is promulgated pursuant to notice-and-comment rulemaking. The court disagreed with the district court’s conclusion that CMS’s policy exceeds the agency’s authority under the Medicaid Act. CMS’s payment-deduction policy is a reasonable interpretation of an ambiguous section of the Act but is not a valid interpretative rule. CMS attempted to exercise its delegated discretion to “determine[]” the “costs incurred” in serving Medicaid-eligible patients—precisely the sort of agency action that requires notice-and-comment rulemaking. View "Tennessee Hospital Association v. Azar" on Justia Law

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Courthouse News Service (CNS) sought injunctive relief under 42 U.S.C. 1983, arguing that the First Amendment requires the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, to release newly filed complaints to the press at the moment of receipt by her office—not after processing. The Seventh Circuit reversed the district court’s order granting a preliminary injunction and ordered the action dismissed without prejudice, noting that neither the Seventh Circuit nor the U.S. Supreme Court provides the press with such instant access to court filings, but undertake certain administrative processing before a filing is made publicly available. Adhering to the principles of equity, comity, and federalism, the district court should have abstained from exercising jurisdiction over this case. The court noted that the procedures at issue involve a delay of no more than one business day in access to the vast majority of electronically filed complaints and stated that the state courts deserve the first opportunity to hear such a constitutional challenge to their internal procedures. View "Courthouse News Services v. Brown" on Justia Law

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In May 2016 Walsh County, North Dakota notified Jann Thompson she failed to pay her 2013 property taxes. The notice stated the County would foreclose on the property unless Thompson paid the taxes by October 1, 2016. Thompson previously attempted to pay the taxes with promissory notes and other instruments; however, they were not accepted by the County. On October 6, 2016, the County recorded a tax deed for the property due to Thompson's failure to pay the 2013 taxes. The County informed Thompson she had the right to repurchase the property before the tax sale by paying all outstanding taxes and costs against the property. On November 2, 2016, Thompson paid the 2013, 2014 and 2015 taxes and redeemed the property. Before paying the outstanding property taxes, Daniel and Jann Thompson sued Defendants the County auditor, the State Attorney, and the County Board of Commissioners, claiming the State had no authority to tax their property, and county officials improperly refused payment by not accepting the Thompsons' promissory notes. The Thompsons also alleged fraud, inverse condemnation and slander of title. The Thompsons subsequently filed a number of other documents and motions relating to their complaint. Defendants denied the Thompsons' allegations, and requested dismissal of the complaint and denial of the additional civil filings and motions. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants, dismissing the claims. Finding the trial court did not err by dismissing the Thompsons’ claims, the North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed. View "Thompson v. Molde" on Justia Law

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Cook served on active duty in the Navy, 1972-1973. Cook’s service records indicate that he experienced back pain. In 2000, Cook sought service connection for back problems and later filed a claim for total disability based on individual unemployability (TDIU), also back-related. The regional office (RO) denied both claims. Cook appealed and testified at a Board hearing in 2012. The Board remanded; the RO again denied both claims. Cook again appealed and requested an additional hearing to present further evidence. The Board denied Cook that additional hearing and denied both of his claims. The Veterans Court, upon joint motion, vacated and remanded because the Board did not adequately explain its decision. On remand, Cook again requested another Board hearing. The Board denied a hearing and denied Cook’s claims for service connection and TDIU. The Veterans Court vacated and ordered a hearing. The Federal Circuit affirmed. The Veterans’ Judicial Review Act codified a veteran’s longstanding right to a Board of Veterans’ Appeals hearing, 38 U.S.C. 7107(b). The courts concluded that the statute entitles an appellant to an opportunity for a hearing whenever the Board decides an appeal, including on remand. View "Cook v. Wilkie" on Justia Law

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This appeal stemmed from an Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) decision to extend the City of Burlington’s 2011 Conditional Use Determination (2011 CUD), which permitted the City to commence construction on the Champlain Parkway project. Appellant Fortieth Burlington, LLC (Fortieth) challenged ANR’s approval of the permit extension, and the Environmental Division’s subsequent affirmance of that decision, on grounds that the City failed to adhere to several project conditions outlined in the 2011 CUD and was required to redelineate and reevaluate the wetlands impacted by the project prior to receiving an extension, among other reasons. The Environmental Division dismissed Fortieth’s claims, concluding that the project complied with the 2011 CUD’s limited requirements for seeking a permit extension and that Fortieth’s other claims were collateral attacks against the underlying permit and were impermissible. Finding no reversible error, the Vermont Supreme Court affirmed. View "In re Champlain Parkway Wetland Conditional Use Determination (Fortieth Burlington, LLC)" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs Willis S. Sheldon, individually as the father of Dezirae Sheldon, and as administrator of the Estate of Dezirae Sheldon, appealed the grant of summary judgment to defendant Nicholas Ruggiero, an administrative reviewer with the Vermont Department for Children and Families (DCF). Plaintiffs argued that defendant negligently failed to report an allegation that Dezirae’s stepfather Dennis Duby abused Dezirae, eventually leading to Dezirae’s murder at Duby’s hands. Plaintiffs presented alternative theories for defendant’s liability under: (1) Vermont’s mandated-reporter statute, which they argued created a private right of action; (2) common-law negligence; or (3) negligent undertaking. After review, the Vermont Supreme Court concluded that even if the mandated-reporter statute creates a private right of action, or alternatively, even if defendant had a common-law duty to report suspected abuse, plaintiffs’ negligent-undertaking claim failed because defendant acted reasonably and prudently in his role as a DCF administrative reviewer. In addition, the Court concluded that defendant never undertook DCF’s statutory obligation to investigate all potential sources of Dezirae’s injuries. View "Sheldon v. Ruggiero" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, by his parent and legal guardian, filed suit against the United States for negligence and negligent supervision, alleging that the Government knew or should have known of the sexual abuse history of a priest that was hired at the Tripler Army Medical Center, and that the Government was negligent in failing to warn families of the priest's sexual propensities. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the action based on lack of subject matter jurisdiction because the United States was entitled to sovereign immunity. The court held that the decision whether to warn of the priest's sexual propensities or to take other action to restrict his contact with children was susceptible to policy analysis. The court explained that balancing safety, reputational interests, and confidentiality was the kind of determination the discretionary function exception was designed to shield and thus the Government's conduct was within the discretionary function exception. View "Croyle v. United States" on Justia Law

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Hardy, a 55-year old man who worked previously as a maintenance mechanic, had a discectomy in 2005 and a lumbar spinal fusion in 2006. His previous application for Disability Insurance Benefits was denied in 2012. Hardy filed another application for DIB benefits, claiming an onset date of April 2012. The agency denied Hardy’s claim; state-agency doctors reviewed Hardy’s file and determined that he had postural limitations, could frequently lift up to 10 pounds and could stand or walk for six hours during a workday so that Hardy could perform light work. His treating doctors reported that Hardy was unable to work and that his “legs give out and he tends to fall.” In concluding that Hardy was not disabled, an ALJ determined that Hardy had not engaged in substantial gainful employment since his alleged onset date; that his conditions were severe impairments; that these conditions did not equal a listed impairment; that he had the residual functional capacity to perform light work, with limitations; and that he could work as a wire assembler, assembly press operator, circuit board screener, or finish assembler. The Seventh Circuit vacated the denial of benefits. A treating doctor’s opinion generally is entitled to controlling weight if it is consistent with the record, and it cannot be rejected without a “sound explanation.” The ALJ impermissibly discounted the opinions of Hardy’s treating neurosurgeon. View "Hardy v. Berryhill" on Justia Law

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In this dispute between two labor unions over which entity has the right to represent Clark County School District employees as the exclusive bargaining representative, the Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court concluding that the Local Government Employee-Management Relations Board exceeded its statutory authority by ordering a second, discretionary, runoff election with a different vote-counting standard, holding that the Board incorrectly interpreted the governing statute and regulation. In the three elections that have occurred since the dispute in this case arose, the challenging union secured a majority of the votes cast but failed to secure a majority of the members of the bargaining unit. After the last election, the Board deemed the challenging union the winner of the election because the union obtained a majority of the votes cast. The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s order granting the petition for judicial review, holding (1) the vote-counting standard mandated by Nev. Rev. Stat. 288.160 and Nevada Administrative Code 288.110 is a majority of the members of the bargaining unit and not simply a majority of the votes cast; and (2) therefore, the Board’s interpretation of section 288.160(4) and 288.110 as allowing for the use of a majority-of-the-votes cast standard at the runoff election was improper. View "State, Local Government Employee-Management Relations Board v. Education Support Employees Ass’n" on Justia Law