Articles Posted in Government & Administrative 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

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The First Circuit denied Petitioner’s petition for review from the denial of his application for asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under the Convention Against Torture (CAT). The immigration judge (IJ) denied Petitioner’s application, ruling that his claimed social group was not a protected ground under the Immigration and Nationality Act and that Petitioner had not established a nexus between his alleged persecution, or fear of future persecution, and any protected ground. The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) upheld the IJ’s decision, concluding that Petitioner did not establish that any persecution he had suffered or feared was on account of a protected ground. The First Circuit agreed, holding that there was substantial evidence before the IJ and BIA that Petitioner failed to meet his burden to establish a nexus between his alleged persecution and a statutorily protected ground. View "Lopez-Lopez v. Sessions" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit denied Petitioner’s petition for review from the Board of Immigration Appeals’ (BIA) dismissal of her appeal from the denial of her application for asylum and withholding of removal of herself and, derivatively, her two minor children, holding that Petitioner’s challenge to the denial of her claims failed. At her removal proceedings before the immigration judge (IJ), Petitioner testified and submitted a declaration in support of her applications for asylum and withholding of removal, claiming that she suffered past persecution in Honduras on account of her membership in her family and that she had a well-founded fear of future persecution on account of her familial ties. The IJ denied Petitioner’s applications and ordered Petitioner and her minor children removed. The BIA dismissed Petitioner’s appeal. The First Circuit agreed with the IJ and the BIA, holding that Petitioner’s challenge to the denial of her asylum claim failed, and so, for identical reasons, did her challenge to the denial of her withholding of removal claim also fail. View "Sosa-Perez v. Sessions" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit denied Petitioner’s petition for review from the Board of Immigration Appeals’ (BIA) dismissal of her appeal from the denial of her application for asylum and withholding of removal of herself and, derivatively, her two minor children, holding that Petitioner’s challenge to the denial of her claims failed. At her removal proceedings before the immigration judge (IJ), Petitioner testified and submitted a declaration in support of her applications for asylum and withholding of removal, claiming that she suffered past persecution in Honduras on account of her membership in her family and that she had a well-founded fear of future persecution on account of her familial ties. The IJ denied Petitioner’s applications and ordered Petitioner and her minor children removed. The BIA dismissed Petitioner’s appeal. The First Circuit agreed with the IJ and the BIA, holding that Petitioner’s challenge to the denial of her asylum claim failed, and so, for identical reasons, did her challenge to the denial of her withholding of removal claim also fail. View "Sosa-Perez v. Sessions" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit remanded this immigration case to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) due to its insufficient explanation of why the least culpable conduct prohibited under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 266, 2 is morally reprehensible, and why the statute’s requirement of “malice,” as construed by Massachusetts courts, qualifies the crime as a crime involving moral turpitude (CIMT). Petitioner, a native and citizen of the Dominican Republic, was charged as removable. Petitioner denied his removability and, in the alternative, requested several forms of relief. Petitioner was previously convicted of the crime of Massachusetts arson. The immigration judge (IJ) concluded that Petitioner’s Massachusetts crime was categorically a CIMT. The IJ also found Petitioner ineligible for relief from removal on the basis that he failed to prove that his conviction was not an aggravated felony. The BIA dismissed Petitioner’s appeal in an opinion that replicated the IJ’s reasoning. The First Circuit granted Petitioner’s petition for review, vacated the BIA’s opinion, and remanded for further proceedings for the reasons set forth above. View "Rosa Pena v. Sessions" on Justia Law