Justia Civil Rights Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Government Contracts
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Miller, an assistant city attorney, advised the City of Eugene not to renew contracts with DePaul, a qualified nonprofit agency for individuals with disabilities (QRF) under an Oregon law that requires cities to contract with QRFs in certain circumstances. DePaul sued under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging that it held a clearly established constitutionally protected property interest in two 12-month security-service contracts. In 2016, Eugene had decided to modify its security services by requiring that the security service employees be armed and decided not to renew the contracts.The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court and held that Miller was entitled to qualified immunity. No court has considered DePaul’s novel argument that the Oregon QRF statute created a protected property interest in city contracts. Nor does the QRF statute on its face definitively resolve that question. DePaul did not provide any precedent addressing Oregon’s QRF statute or anything closely related. There was no precedent clear enough that every reasonable official would interpret the QRF statute as creating a protected property interest in DePaul’s annual contracts. There was also no precedent considering whether the QRF statute allows the city to end a contract if it seeks new services, such as armed security. View "DePaul Industries v. Miller" on Justia Law

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Fisk, an LLC formed in 2018, had two members; one is an attorney. Fisk collaborated with the City of DeKalb regarding the redevelopment of a dilapidated property. Under a Development Incentive Agreement, if Fisk met certain contingencies, DeKalb would provide $2,500,000 in Tax Increment Financing. In 2019, Nicklas became the City Manager and opened new inquiries into Fisk’s financial affairs and development plans. Nicklas concluded Fisk did not have the necessary financial capacity or experience, based on specified factors.Fisk's Attorney Member had represented a client in a 2017 state court lawsuit in which Nicklas was a witness. Nicklas considered funding incentives for other development projects with which, Fisk alleged, Nicklas had previous financial and personal ties.The City Council found Fisk’s financial documents “barren of any assurance that the LLC could afford ongoing preliminary planning and engineering fees,” cited “insufficient project details,” and terminated the agreement. Fisk sued Nicklas under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging Nicklas sought to retaliate against Fisk and favor other developers. The Seventh Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the claims. Fisk did not exercise its First Amendment petition right in the 2017 lawsuit. That right ran to the client; Fisk did not yet exist. Fisk had no constitutionally protected property right in the agreement or in the city’s resolution, which did not bind or “substantively limit[]” the city “by mandating a particular result when certain clearly stated criteria are met.” Nicklas had a rational basis for blocking the project, so an Equal Protection claim failed. View "145 Fisk, LLC v. Nicklas" on Justia Law

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The Randolph-Sheppard Act, 20 U.S.C. 107, requires government agencies to set aside certain contracts for sight-challenged vendors. States license the vendors and match them with available contracts. In 2010, Michigan denied Armstrong’s bid for a contract to stock vending machines at highway rest stops. A state ALJ ruled in Armstrong’s favor and recommended that she get priority for the next available facility/location. The state awarded Armstrong an available vending route later that year. Armstrong nonetheless requested federal arbitration, seeking nearly $250,000 in damages to account for delays in getting the license. The arbitrators ruled that Armstrong was wrongfully denied the location she sought and ordered Michigan to immediately assign Armstrong the Grayling vending route but declined to award damages, reasoning that her request was “too speculative.”The district court upheld the arbitration award and rejected Armstrong’s 42 U.S.C. 1983 claims, concluding that the Randolph-Sheppard Act created the sole statutory right to relief under federal law. Michigan subsequently granted her the Grayling license. The Sixth Circuit affirmed. The unfavorable arbitration decision was not arbitrary or capricious under the Administrative Procedure Act. Armstrong may not sue under 42 U.S.C. 1983 to vindicate her rights under the Randolph-Sheppard Act. View "Armstrong v. Michigan Bureau of Services for Blind Persons" on Justia Law

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Rushton, an Illinois Times journalist, requested from the Illinois Department of Corrections (DOC) settlement agreements pertaining to claims filed in connection with the death of Franco, a former Taylorville inmate who died from cancer, including agreements involving Wexford, which contracts with DOC to provide medical for inmates. The DOC did not have a copy of the Wexford agreement. Wexford claimed that it was “confidential” and not a public record for purposes of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Wexford provided the DOC’s FOIA officer with a redacted version, which the DOC gave to Rushton. Rushton and the Times filed suit. The court allowed Wexford to intervene and ordered Wexford to provide an unredacted version of the agreement to the court under seal. Wexford argued that the agreement did not “directly relate” to the governmental function that it performs for the DOC because it memorializes its independent business decision to settle a legal claim, without mentioning Franco’s medical condition or medical care. The plaintiffs characterized the agreement as "settlement of a claim that Wexford failed to perform its governmental function properly" and argued that the amount of the settlement affected taxpayers.The Illinois Supreme Court held that the agreement is subject to FOIA. The statute is to be construed broadly in favor of disclosure. The contractor stood in the shoes of the DOC when it provided medical care to inmates. The settlement agreement was related to the provision of medical care to inmates, and public bodies may not avoid disclosure obligations by delegating their governmental function to a third party. View "Rushton v. Department of Corrections" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, a former government contractor with security clearance, filed suit raising numerous constitutional and security claims after his security clearance was revoked. The district court dismissed 23 counts, partially dismissed Count 21 and granted summary judgment to the government on the remainder of that count, and ordered plaintiff to file a more definite statement about the other six counts (Counts 23-27 and 29). The district court later granted summary judgment for the government as to those six counts.As to the frivolous constitutional claims, they were barred by Department of Navy v. Egan, 484 U.S. 518 (1988). As to the Privacy Act claims, the court affirmed the dismissal of the claims because they failed on the merits. As to the Due Process Claims under Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971), they were properly dismissed because the officials were entitled to qualified immunity. As to challenges to the DOHA proceeding, the court assumed without deciding that plaintiff had a cognizable liberty interest but that his claim was not viable. As to claims of illegal search and claims under the Store Communications Act, the district court correctly dismissed these counts for failure to state a claim. Finally, as to claims of unlawful interrogation, the district court properly concluded that plaintiff failed to establish personal jurisdiction of the defendants. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's judgment. View "Palmieri v. United States" on Justia Law

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Enacted in 2016, Ohio Revised Code 3701.034 requires the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) to ensure that all funds it receives through six non-abortion-related federal health programs are not used to contract with any entity that performs or promotes nontherapeutic abortions, or becomes or continues to be an affiliate of any entity that performs or promotes nontherapeutic abortions. Plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief under 42 U.S.C. 1983. The Sixth Circuit affirmed the entry of a permanent injunction, first rejecting a challenge to Plaintiffs’ standing to assert due process claims. The district court properly applied the “unconstitutional conditions” doctrine, which is not limited to First Amendment rights. Although the government has no obligation to subsidize constitutionally protected activity, it may not use its control over funds to curtail the exercise of constitutionally protected rights outside the scope of a government-funded program. Section 3701.034 imposes conditions; does not distinguish between the grantee and the project; does not permit the grantee to keep abortion-related speech and activities separate from governmental programs; does not leave the grantee unfettered in its other activities; and does not permit the grantee to continue to perform abortion and provide abortion-related services through programs that are independent from projects that receive the funds. While finding the “undue-burden analysis” employed in some courts “questionable,” the court concluded that section 3701.034 is unnecessary to advance the interests ODH asserts. View "Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio v. Himes" on Justia Law

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University Park hired Linear as its Village Manager through May 2015, concurrent with the term of its Mayor. In October 2014 the Village extended Linear’s contract for a year. In April 2015 Mayor Covington was reelected. In May, the Board of Trustees decided that Linear would no longer be Village Manager. His contract provides for six months’ severance pay if the Board discharges him for any reason except criminality. The Village argued that the contract’s extension was not lawful and that it owes Linear nothing. The district court agreed and rejected Linear’s suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983, reasoning that 65 ILCS 5/3.1-30-5; 5/8-1-7 prohibit a village manager's contract from lasting beyond the end of a mayor’s term. The Seventh Circuit affirmed on different grounds. State courts should address the Illinois law claims. Linear’s federal claim rests on a mistaken appreciation of the role the Constitution plays in enforcing state-law rights. Linear never had a legitimate claim of entitlement to remain as Village Manager. His contract allowed termination without cause. His entitlement was to receive the contracted-for severance pay. Linear could not have a federal right to a hearing before losing his job; he has at most a right to a hearing to determine his severance pay--a question of Illinois law. View "Linear v. Village of University Park" on Justia Law

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In 2016, Kansas sent notices of decisions to terminate its Medicaid contracts with two Planned Parenthood affiliates, Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri (“PPGP”), and Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region (“PPSLR”). The notices cited concerns about the level of PPGP’s cooperation in solid-waste inspections, both Providers’ billing practices, and an anti-abortion group’s allegations that Planned Parenthood of America (“PPFA”) executives had been video-recorded negotiating the sale of fetal tissue and body parts. Together, the Providers and three individual Jane Does (“the Patients”) immediately sued Susan Mosier, Secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (“KDHE”), under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging violations of 42 U.S.C. 1396a(a)(23) and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Plaintiffs sought a preliminary injunction enjoining Kansas from terminating the Providers from the state’s Medicaid program. "States may not terminate providers from their Medicaid program for any reason they see fit, especially when that reason is unrelated to the provider’s competence and the quality of the healthcare it provides." The Tenth Circuit joined four of five circuits that addressed this same provision and affirmed the district court’s injunction prohibiting Kansas from terminating its Medicaid contract with PPGP. But the Court vacated the district court’s injunction as it pertained to PPSLR, remanding for further proceedings on that issue, because Plaintiffs failed to establish standing to challenge that termination. But on this record, the Court could not determine whether PPSLR itself could establish standing, an issue the district court declined to decide but now must decide on remand. View "Planned Parenthood v. Andersen" on Justia Law

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Parrino worked as a pharmacist for NRS. He was responsible for preparing medications, mainly inhalers. After leaving NRS, Parrino was contacted by the FDA and FBI, which were investigating reports that NRS was filling prescription medications for Pulmicort, a steroid used for the treatment of asthma, with a sub-potent amount of the active ingredient. Parrino cooperated and pleaded guilty to introducing misbranded drugs into interstate commerce, 21 U.S.C. 331(a), 352(a), and 18 U.S.C. 2, a strict liability misdemeanor. Parrino was sentenced to one year of probation and ordered to pay $14,098.24 in restitution for Medicaid and Medicare payments. The Department of Health and Human Services notified Parrino that it was required to exclude him from participation in any capacity in the Medicare, Medicaid, and all federal healthcare programs for at least five years, under 42 U.S.C. 1320a-7(a). Rejecting Parrino’s argument that he lacked any mens rea to commit a crime and was convicted of a strict liability misdemeanor, an ALJ and the Appeals Board upheld HHS’s decision. The Sixth Circuit affirmed dismissal of Parrino’s suit, finding that HHS’s action affected no substantive due process right because “health care providers are not the intended beneficiaries of the federal health care programs” and that the decision to exclude Parrino was “not so shocking as to shake the foundations of this country.” View "Parrino v. Price" on Justia Law

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Nightingale provided home health care and received Medicare reimbursements. The Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) visited Nightingale’s facility and concluded that Nightingale had deficiencies that placed patients in “immediate jeopardy.” ISDH recommended that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), terminate Nightingale’s Medicare agreement. ISDH conducted a revisit and concluded that Nightingale had not complied. Before CMS terminated the agreement, Nightingale filed a petition to reorganize in bankruptcy and commenced sought to enjoin CMS from terminating its provider agreement during the reorganization, to compel CMS to pay for services already provided, and to compel CMS to continue to reimburse for services rendered. The bankruptcy court granted Nightingale relief. While an appeal was pending, ISDH again found “immediate jeopardy.” The injunction was dissolved. A Medicare ALJ and the Departmental Appeals Board affirmed termination. After failing to complete a sale of its assets, Nightingale discharged patients and closed its Indiana operations by August 17, 2016. On September 16, 2016, the district court concluded that the bankruptcy court had lacked subject-matter jurisdiction to issue the injunction and stated that the government could seek restitution for reimbursements for post-injunction services. CMS filed a claim for restitution that is pending. Nightingale separately initiated a civil rights action, which was dismissed. In consolidated appeals, the Seventh Circuit vacated the decisions. The issue of whether the bankruptcy court properly granted the injunction was moot. Nightingale’s constitutional claims were jurisdictionally barred by 42 U.S.C. 405(g). View "Nightingale Home Healthcare, Inc. v. United States" on Justia Law