Justia Civil Rights Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
Miller v. Department of Justice
Miller worked as the Superintendent of Industries at the Beaumont, Texas Federal Correctional Complex, overseeing a prison factory that produced ballistic helmets primarily for military use. Miller occasionally served associate warden and was described by Warden Upton as “a fantastic employee.” In 2009, Miller disclosed to the government-owned corporation that ran the prison and to Upton what he perceived to be mismanagement of factory funds. The Office of Inspector General (OIG) conducted an inspection. Upton asked Miller to not report to the factory that day. The next day, Miller reported that there had been “sabotage” at the factory, and urged that it be closed pending investigation. Hours later, Upton informed Miller that he was being reassigned. Upton later testified that OIG was concerned that Miller might compromise its investigation. Over the next four and a half years, Miller was assigned to low-level positions. Upton attributed his reassignments to unidentified OIG staff. Eventually, Upton reassigned Miller to sit on a couch in the lobby for eight months. Miller appealed to the Merit Systems Protection Board, alleging violation of the Whistleblower Protection Act, 5 U.S.C. 2302(b)(8). The Administrative Judge found that the government had rebutted his case. The Federal Circuit reversed. The government did not prove by clear and convincing evidence that it would have reassigned Miller absent his protected disclosures. View "Miller v. Department of Justice" on Justia Law
Federal Education Association v. Department of Defense
Graviss has worked in education since 1978. In 2008, she became a pre-school special needs teacher at Kingsolver Elementary, part of Fort Knox Schools. Kingsolver’s principal, McClain, issued Graviss a reprimand based on an “inappropriate interaction with a student” and “failure to follow directives,” asserting that Graviss and her aide had physically carried a misbehaving pre-school student and Graviss had emailed concerns to the director of special education, although McClain had directed Graviss to “bring all issues directly to [her].” The union filed a grievance. Subsequently, one of Graviss’s students had an episode, repeatedly flailing his arms, kicking, and screaming. While the other students were out at recess, Graviss employed physical restraint to subdue the child. After an investigation, McClain submitted a Family Advocacy Program Department of Defense Education Activity Serious Incident Report and Alleged Child Abuse Report to the Family Advocacy Program (child protective services for the military). McClain forwarded the Report to her direct supervisor, who was later the decision-maker in Graviss’s termination. An arbitrator concluded that that Graviss's termination promoted the efficiency of the service and was reasonable. The Federal Circuit reversed, concluding that Graviss’s due process rights were violated by improper ex parte communication between a supervisor and the deciding official. That communication contained new information that the supervisor wanted Graviss terminated for insubordination. View "Federal Education Association v. Department of Defense" on Justia Law
Crooker v. United States
Crooker, who has a lengthy criminal history, pled guilty to charges of mailing a threatening communication and possession of a toxin without registration. He is serving a sentence of 15 years, having received credit toward that sentence for 2,273 days he spent imprisoned on a prior conviction for transportation of a firearm in interstate commerce by a convicted felon, which was overturned on appeal. Crooker filed suit under the Unjust Conviction and Imprisonment Act, 28 U.S.C. 1495, 2513, seeking damages for the time he spent in prison on overturned conviction, despite the sentencing credit. The Court of Federal Claims awarded him the statutory maximum for the first 1,259 days, $172,465.75. The Federal Circuit reversed: the entirety of Crooker’s “unjust” imprisonment has been applied to a “just” conviction and, as a result, he will spend no more time in prison than he is legally required. Crooker is not entitled to any damages under the Unjust Conviction and Imprisonment Act. View "Crooker v. United States" on Justia Law
Amgen Inc. v. Apotex Inc.
Apotex applied to the FDA, under the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act of 2009, for permission to begin marketing a product allegedly “biosimilar” to Amgen’s FDA-approved Neulasta®. Apotex and Amgen proceeded under the Act’s process for exchanging information and channeling litigation about patents relevant to the application. In this suit, Amgen alleged that Apotex’s proposed marketing would infringe an Amgen patent. On Amgen’s motion, the district court preliminarily enjoined Apotex from entering the market unless it has given Amgen notice after receiving the requested FDA license and then waited 180 days, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 262(l)(8)(A). The Federal Circuit affirmed. The Act’s commercial-marketing provision is mandatory, with the 180-day period beginning only upon post-licensure notice, and an injunction was proper to enforce the provision against even a biosimilar product applicant that did engage in the statutory process for exchanging patent information and channeling patent litigation. View "Amgen Inc. v. Apotex Inc." on Justia Law
Cahill v. Merit Sys. Protection Bd.
From 2003-2008, Cahill did information-technology work for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as an independent contractor. In 2011, the agency hired him as an employee, “to support Data Management activities,” including studies for which field workers use hand-held devices called “Pocket PCs” to collect data. In 2014, Cahill filed a complaint with the Office of Special Counsel, 5 U.S.C. 1214(a)(1)(A), alleging that agency officials had violated the whistleblower protections of 5 U.S.C. 2302(b)(8)(A) by retaliating for his 2012 disclosures about agency practices, including that the Pocket PCs were outdated, had bad batteries, lost data, and presented data-entry problems. Cahill contended that he was treated differently after that meeting; that he was not invited to BCSB meetings, was discouraged from participating in projects to which he was assigned, was eventually placed on a Performance Action Plan; and that various supervisors treated him and evaluated him poorly. The Merit Systems Protection Board concluded that it lacked jurisdiction because Cahill had not presented nonfrivolous allegations that his March 2012 disclosure was known to at least one of the agency officials he charged with taking the challenged personnel actions. The Federal Circuit reversed, finding that Cahill adequately alleged that at least one supervisor knew of his statement. View "Cahill v. Merit Sys. Protection Bd." on Justia Law