Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

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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

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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

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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

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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

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Gulf Coast filed suit seeking injunctive and declaratory relief after the Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) sent a letter to Gulf Coast indicating that the company's unreported ownership change could subject Gulf Coast to civil and criminal penalties, and a separate letter indicating that Gulf Coast was liable for unpaid excise taxes for operating under a terminated tobacco permit. The DC Circuit affirmed the district court's conclusion that the Anti-Injunction Act (AIA) prohibited Gulf Coast's attempt to restore its terminated tobacco permit and thus the district court lacked jurisdiction to review the alcohol permits' automatic termination. The court explained that Gulf Coast could bring a refund suit if it disputed liability for unpaid excise taxes. View "Gulf Coast Maritime Supply, Inc. v. United States" on Justia Law

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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

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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

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After the Commission held that petitioners engaged in a scheme designed to collect millions of dollars in unwarranted long-distance access charges from AT&T, petitioners challenged the Commission's award of damages to AT&T and statements in the Commission's decision that referred to the merits of the companies' state law claims against AT&T. The DC Circuit held that the Commission's damages award was permissible and that the Commission's conclusion that petitioners did not render any service to AT&T chargeable under the Communications Act was supported by substantial evidence in the record. However, insofar as the Commission reached and decided any questions of state law or the merits of petitioners' quantum meruit claims, those parts of the decision were without legal effect and vacated in relevant part. View "All American Telephone Co. v. FCC" on Justia Law

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Texas Neighborhood Services received Head Start grant money to provide childcare services to low-income families in Texas. The Department subsequently required Neighborhood Services to repay $1.3 million in federal funds it awarded to staff in the form of performance bonuses. The Department argued that the payments were unreasonable and inadequately documented and the Appeals Board agreed. The DC Circuit affirmed the district court's rejection of Neighborhood Services' challenge under the Administrative Procedures Act. In this case, Neighborhood Services failed to produce documentation sufficient to show that it was awarding performances in accordance with the Office of Management and Budget's Circular A-122, which explains when and how the government will reimburse federal grantees, including organizations receiving Head Start money, for different types of expenses. View "Texas Neighborhood Services v. HHS" on Justia Law

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This case involves the allocation of production costs among the Entergy Operation Companies. LPSC petitioned for review of FERC's implementation of its decision to delay the effective date of the Bandwidth Remedy. The DC Circuit denied LPSC's petition with respect to FERC's advancement of the effective date to the 2005 period, and denied its petition as to the application of the Bandwidth Remedy to the 2005 period. The court granted FERC's request to remand to FERC for further consideration of the denial of Section 206 refunds for the September 2001-May 2003 effective period. View "Louisiana Public Service Commission v. FERC" on Justia Law