Articles Posted in Government & Administrative Law

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The First Circuit vacated in part the district court’s grant of summary judgment in Defendants’ favor on Plaintiffs’ claims seeking compensatory damages, declaratory relief, a permanent injunction, and expungement of disciplinary proceedings from a student’s university records. John Doe was accused of sexually assaulting a fellow Boston College student. In 2012, Boston College held disciplinary proceedings against Doe, and an Administrative Hearing Board found Doe responsible for the lesser offense of indecent assault and battery. In 2014, Boston College conducted an independent review of the disciplinary proceedings and determined that the Board’s finding was proper. Doe and his parents filed a lawsuit against Trustees of Boston College and several university officials. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants on all counts. The First Circuit (1) affirmed the district court’s grant of summary judgment as to Plaintiffs’ breach of contract claim for the 2014 review and Title IX, negligence, and negligent infliction of emotional distress claims; and (2) vacated the grant of summary judgment as to Plaintiffs’ breach of contract claim for the 2012 disciplinary proceedings, where there were genuine issues of material fact on this claim, and basic fairness claim, where the grant of summary judgment on this claim rested on the court’s analysis as to Plaintiffs’ breach of contract claim. View "Doe v. Trustees of Boston College" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s order upholding an administrative law judge’s (ALJ) denial of Appellant’s application for Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits and Supplemental Security Income. The Court held (1) even if this Court reviews the ALJ’s ruling on the understanding that it must apply a certain Social Security Ruling in reviewing the ALJ’s ruling, the ALJ’s determination that Appellant was not disabled still must be upheld; (2) substantial evidence supported the ALJ’s determination that Appellant’s ability to carry out certain daily activities undermined his contention that he was unable to perform light work; and (3) Appellant’s remaining allegations of error were without merit. View "Coskery v. Berryhill" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit denied Petitioner’s petition for review of a decision by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) to deny Petitioner’s application for deferral of removal based on the protection to which he claimed he was entitled under the United Nations Convention Against Torture (CAT). Petitioner, a native of Jamaica and a lawful permanent resident of the United States, was charged with removability for being convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude. Petitioner contended that, pursuant to 8 C.F.R. 1208.17, he was eligible for deferral of removal under CAT based on the fact that a gang leader in Jamaica with ties to the Jamaican police had threatened to kill him for being an informant. An immigration judge (IJ) denied Petitioner’s claim for deferral of removal. The BIA affirmed. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that Petitioner failed to show that he was entitled to deferral of removal pursuant to 8 C.F.R. 1208.17(a). View "Morris v. Sessions" on Justia Law

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At issue was whether the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) erred in concluding that Petitioner had not suffered past persecution nor had a well-founded fear of future persecution if he returned to Ecuador on account of his indigenous Quiche ethnicity. The First Circuit vacated the order of the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) affirming the immigration judge’s (IJ) decision denying Petitioner’s asylum application. The Court held (1) Petitioner’s case should be analyzed in light of the fact that he was a minor during the time he suffered abuse, harm, and mistreatment in Ecuador; (2) the IJ and BIA erred as a matter of law in failing to apply the child-specific standard for asylum claims; and (3) the case must be remanded for a finding of whether what Petitioner suffered in Ecuador, viewed from a child’s perspective, amounted to severe mistreatment and, if so, whether the the abuse amounted to government inaction, a requisite for a finding of past persecution. View "Santos-Guaman v. Sessions" on Justia Law

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The district court properly placed the burden of proof on a grocery store (Store) in this action brought by Plaintiffs alleging that the Store unlawfully trafficked in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), the bureau within the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) charged with administering the SNAP regime, concluded that the Store had engaged in trafficking and permanently disqualified the Store from SNAP participation. The Store brought an action in Maine’s federal district court challenging the agency’s final decision. The district court granted summary judgment for the USDA. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the burden of proof is imposed on the claimant - here, the Store; and (2) no rational fact-finder could conclude that the Store had demonstrated by a preponderance of the evidence that the finding of trafficking was incorrect. View "Irobe v. United States Department of Agriculture" on Justia Law

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Appellants’ action brought under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), 28 U.S.C. 1346(b), 2671-2680, seeking compensatory damages for the allegedly negligent act of a federal employee was time-barred under the FTCA’s statute of limitations. On April 22, 2013, Appellants filed a medical malpractice complaint pursuant to the FTCA against the United States Department of Health and Human Services (USDHHS). The district court granted summary judgment for USDHHS, concluding that the complaint was time-barred for failing to file compulsory administrative claims within the FTCA’s two-year statute of limitations. On appeal, Appellants argued that their claim was timely under the “discovery rule.” The First Circuit affirmed, holding that, at least by March 8, 2010, Appellants knew of sufficient facts for their cause of action to accrue, and therefore, Appellants’ action was time-barred. View "Morales-Melecio v. United States" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s ruling that the “set-off rule” announced by the United States Secretary of Health and Human Services (Secretary) in the form of answers to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) posted on medicaid.gov represented a substantive policy decision that could not be adopted without notice and comment. In 1981, Congress authorized the payment of sums in addition to Medicaid payments hospitals that treat indigent patients receive in order to cover the full costs of care. Congress later passed a law seeking to cap those payments at each hospital’s “costs incurred.” At issue was to what extent “costs incurred” equals the total costs of service rather than the costs net of payments from sources such as Medicare and private insurance. With two exceptions, Congress stated that “costs incurred” are “as determined by the Secretary.” In 2010, the Secretary made its FAQs announcement that the payments to be offset against total costs in calculating “costs incurred” also included reimbursements received from Medicare and private insurance. The First Circuit held that the Secretary’s rule was procedurally improper for having failed to observe the notice-and-comment procedures prescribed by the Administrative Procedure Act. View "New Hampshire Hospital Ass’n v. Hargan" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s decision affirming an administrative law judge’s (ALJ) finding that Appellant was not disabled within the meaning of the Social Security Act and thus not entitled to Supplemental Security Income benefits, holding that the ALJ’s determination was supported by substantial evidence. Specifically, the Court held (1) the ALJ did not err in according only slight weight to the testimony of an orthopedic physician who treated Appellant for a non-displaced fracture of her left femur; and (2) the ALJ was entitled to rely on testimony of an impartial vocational expert presented by the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration about available jobs that Appellant was entitled to perform. View "Purdy v. Berryhill" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit denied Petitioner’s petition for review as to his challenge to the Board of Immigration Appeals’ (BIA) determination that his motion to reopen was untimely and dismissed for lack of jurisdiction as to Petitioner’s challenge to the BIA’s decision to not exercise its sua sponte authority to reopen. The BIA found that Petitioner had submitted his motion to reopen long after the ninety-day limit and that Petitioner did not show that he fit within an exception to that limit. The BIA also determined that sua sponte reopening was unwarranted. The First Circuit held (1) that the BIA did not abuse its discretion as to the first issue; and (2) the Court lacked jurisdiction to consider Petitioner’s challenge as to the second issue. View "Reyes v. Sessions" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit denied the petition sought by Petitioners, natives and citizens of Guatemala, seeking review of the denial of their applications for asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under the Convention Against Torture (CAT). An immigration judge (IJ) found Petitioners’ asylum applications to be untimely filed and found that Petitioners failed to carry their burden of proof with respect to their withholding of removal and CAT claims. The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) adopted and affirmed the IJ’s decision. The First Circuit upheld the lower courts, holding (1) this Court lacked jurisdiction to review Petitioners’ claim that they fell within the “extraordinary circumstances” exception to the filing requirement of the asylum application; and (2) substantial evidence in the record supported the IJ and BIA’s finding that Petitioner failed to demonstrate that they suffered past persecution or had a well-founded fear of future persecution. View "Olmos-Colaj v. Sessions" on Justia Law