Articles Posted in Government & Administrative Law

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The First Circuit denied the petition filed by Petitioner, a Guatemalan national, seeking judicial review of a final order of the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) denying her application for asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under the United Nations Convention Against Torture (CAT). At the conclusion of a removal hearing, an immigration judge (IJ) concluded that Petitioner was ineligible for either asylum or withholding for removal because she was unable to show that the harm she suffered in Guatemala was on account of a statutorily protected ground. The IJ also concluded that Petitioner did not qualify for CAT protection. After the BIA upheld the IJ’s decision, Petitioner sought judicial review. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that, as to Petitioner’s application for asylum and for withholding of removal, the IJ and BIA supportably found that Petitioner failed to establish a nexus between the claimed harm and a statutorily protected ground. View "Perez-Rabanales v. Sessions" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the dismissal of Plaintiffs’ two suits against the Environment Protection Agency (EPA), holding that the EPA’s role in developing and approving several total maximum daily loads (TMDLs) in Massachusetts and Rhode Island did not constitute a decision that required the EPA to send notices under 40 C.F.R. 124.52(b), a regulation promulgated under the Clean Water Act (Act). In this case, Plaintiffs argued that, in helping to develop and in approving the TDMLs at issue, the EPA made certain determinations that triggered a duty to send notices in compliance with 40 C.F.R. 124.52(b). The lower courts found that these suits had no toehold in the Act’s limited authorization of citizen suits against the EPA, which is otherwise entitled to sovereign immunity. The First Circuit disagreed, holding (1) the EPA’s approval of the TMDLs was not a decision that an individual permit was required within the meaning of the statute; (2) the EPA’s approval of the TMDLs did not therefore trigger the notice requirement; and (3) consequently, the complaints alleged no failure by the EPA to perform a nondiscretionary duty. View "Conservation Law Foundation v. Pruitt" on Justia Law

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After a previous remand of this case, the First Circuit addressed whether the district court’s ruling in favor of Claimant on her claim for disability benefits based on chronic and severe pain was correct and whether the district court abused its discretion in failing to impose sanctions on one of Claimant’s attorneys. On the first appeal, the First Circuit remanded the case for additional administrative proceedings. On remand, Appellant again denied Claimant’s claim. Appellant appealed. The district court ruled in Claimant’s favor. On appeal, Appellant challenged the district court’s view of the expanded administrative record and the district court’s refusal to impose sanctions on one of Claimant’s attorneys. On cross-appeal, Claimant challenged the district court’s calculations of prejudgment interest and attorney’s fees. The First Circuit (1) affirmed the district court’s rulings on the disability claim and sanctions; but (2) vacated the prejudgment interest award and remanded for consideration of the appropriate rate of interest. View "Gross v. Sun Life Assurance Co. of Canada" on Justia Law

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In 2011, Dr. Volkman was convicted of drug-related charges for illegally prescribing pain medication leading to the deaths of at least 14 individuals. Eil, a journalist writing a book on Volkman's case, attended portions of that public trial. In 2012, Eil submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for the exhibits introduced by the government at the trial. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) provided thousands of pages of responsive documents, some of which were redacted, but withheld the medical records of Volkman's living former patients and the death-related records of his deceased former patients. Eil sued to compel disclosure of the withheld records. The court granted Eil summary judgment, ordering the DEA to release the records with certain redactions. The First Circuit reversed. The district court's balancing of the public interest in disclosure against the relevant privacy interests was flawed because the court applied the wrong standard. The release of the requested records is unlikely to advance a valid public interest, given the amount of relevant information that Eil already has access to and the substantial privacy interests implicated by the records would outweigh any public interest in disclosure. View "Eil v. United States Drug Enforcement Administration" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit dismissed for want of jurisdiction Petitioners’ petition for judicial review of the denial of their applications for voluntary departure to Guatemala and Mexico, holding that this court lacked jurisdiction to review the immigration judge’s (IJ) denial of voluntary departure. The IJ denied Petitioners’ applications on discretionary grounds. The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) affirmed the IJ’s decision. Petitioners appealed, asserting several allegations of error. The First Circuit did not reach the merits of Petitioner’s contentions, holding that it lacked jurisdiction to do so because Petitioner’s claims of error were not at least colorable. View "de la Cruz-Orellana v. Sessions" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court dismissing Plaintiff’s complaint against the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation challenging its decision to terminate his employment for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The district court concluded that Plaintiff did not have a “mixed” case because of his failure to reinstate or prosecute his associational disability discrimination before the Merit Systems Protection Board, despite being given the right to do so, after expressly withdrawing the claim with prejudice. The First Circuit held (1) Plaintiff’s original complaint, which alleged a claim of discrimination that was later withdrawn, was not sufficient to create a mixed case, and therefore, the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction; and (2) the district court did not err in denying Plaintiff’s motion for reconsideration or, in the alternative, to transfer the case to the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. View "Jonson v. Federal Deposit Insurance Corp." on Justia Law

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The First Circuit denied Thomas G. Gallagher, Inc.’s petition for review challenging a final order of the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission that affirmed a fine levied against Gallagher, a Massachusetts-based employer, that was imposed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for two violations of OSHA workplace health and safety standards. In its petition for review, Gallagher challenged only the determination that Gallagher had constructive knowledge with respect to the serious violations for which OSHA cited Gallagher. The First Circuit denied the petition for review with respect to the order regarding both the first and second items of the citation, holding that Gallagher’s challenge to the constructive knowledge analysis could not succeed. View "Thomas G. Gallagher, Inc. v. Acosta" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s dismissal of Plaintiffs’ suit challenging the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) termination of tier disability benefits for lack of subject matter jurisdiction based on Plaintiffs’ failure to have exhausted their administrative remedies. After the SSA terminated the disability benefits that Plaintiffs had been receiving, Plaintiffs challenged that decision administratively. Before they had exhausted the administrative review process, however, Plaintiffs filed suit in federal court seeking various kinds of relief based presumably on the same grounds as the claims that had presented to the SSA in seeking to continue to receive their benefits. The district court granted the government’s motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, concluding that Plaintiffs failed to exhaust their administrative remedies. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that Plaintiffs failed to show that they could not obtain a restoration of their benefits through the administrative review process, despite evidence suggesting that they would have a substantial chance of doing so. View "Justiniano v. Social Security Administration" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit vacated the order of the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) rejecting Petitioner’s claim for withholding of removal. In her application for relief, Petitioner, a native and citizen of Honduras, alleged that she had an abusive relationship with her ex-husband. An immigration judge (IJ) concluded that Petitioner’s testimony was not credible and that the abuse compiled in documentary evidence was not sufficiently serious and persistent to warrant relief. The BIA dismissed Petitioner’s appeal based solely on its ruling that the IJ did not commit clear error in her adverse credibility determination. The First Circuit remanded the matter for further proceedings, holding that, irrespective of the supportability of the adverse credibility finding, remand was required for the BIA to consider Petitioner’s potentially significant documentary evidence. View "Aguilar-Escoto v. Sessions" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit denied Hospital San Cristobal’s petition for review of an order of the National Labor Relations Board (Board) declaring that the Hospital had committed several unfair labor practices in violation of section 8 of the National Labor Relations Act and granted the Board’s cross-petition for enforcement of that order. The court held (1) this court lacked jurisdiction to consider the Hospital’s challenge to the validity of the underlying unfair labor practice complaints; (2) substantial evidence in the record supported the Board’s determination that the Hospital violated sections 8(a)(1) and 8(a)(5) of the Act; and (3) the Hospital’s challenge to the Board’s remedy was not properly before the court. View "Quality Health Services of P.R., Inc. v. National Labor Relations Board" on Justia Law