Articles Posted in Government & Administrative Law

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Provider Plaintiffs and Individual Plaintiffs filed suit seeking a preliminary injunction against the OIG's decision to terminate the Medicaid provider agreements to Planned Parenthood affiliates throughout the state. The district court held that the Individual Plaintiffs possessed a private right of action under the "qualified-provider" provision of the Medicaid Act and issued a preliminary injunction. The Fifth Circuit held that the district court erred in evaluating the evidence de novo, rather than under the arbitrary and capricious standard, and in applying the reasoning in Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast v. Gee, 862 F.3d 445 (5th Cir. 2017), to its determination of a "qualified" provider in this context. Therefore, the district court erred legally and plaintiffs were unlikely to show a likelihood of success on the merits of their claim. Accordingly, the court vacated the preliminary injunction and remanded for the district court to limit its review to the agency record under an arbitrary-and-capricious standard. View "Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas Family Planning and Preventative Health Services v. Smith" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit held that attorneys appearing pro se can not recover fees under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The court affirmed the district court's judgment in an action brought by an immigration attorney under FOIA to obtain government documents. In this case, plaintiff was unsatisfied with the government's responses to his FOIA requests and thus filed three separate pro se lawsuits where he was ultimately considered the prevailing party. Plaintiff was awarded costs, but denied attorney fees under FOIA. View "Gahagan v. US Citizenship & Immigration Services" on Justia Law

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After the Settlement Agreement Appeal Panel affirmed the Claim Administrator's classification of the Arcadia Facility as a "Failed Business," Graphic Packaging sought and was denied discretionary review from the district court. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of discretionary review, holding that the Appeals Panel did not misapply the Settlement Agreement. Even if it did, Graphic Packaging merely disputed the correctness of a discretionary administrative decision in the facts of a single claimant's case. The court rejected Graphic Packaging's remaining claim that the decision merits review because it contradicts a previous Appeals Panel decision. View "Claimant ID 100262194 v. BP Exploration & Production, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of an action brought by the State of Texas, seeking a declaratory judgment under 28 U.S.C. 2201 that SB 4 -- which curbs sanctuary city policies by requiring law enforcement agencies to comply with, honor, and fulfill federal immigration detainer requests -- does not violate the Fourth or Fourteenth Amendments and is not preempted by federal law. Although the district court held that Texas lacked Article III standing to seek declaratory judgment, the court held that the district court lacked federal question jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. 1331 in light of Franchise Tax Board of the State of California v. Construction Laborers Vacation Trust for Southern California, 463 U.S. 1 (1983). In Franchise Tax Board, the Supreme Court held that section 1331's grant of federal question jurisdiction does not encompass suits by the States to declare the validity of their regulation despite possibly conflicting federal law. The court explained that Franchise Tax Board reinforces comity among federal and state courts and mandates that the court dismiss Texas's declaratory relief action. View "Texas v. Travis County" on Justia Law

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The Jackson Municipal Airport Authority (JMAA) currently manages the Jackson-Medgar Wiley Evers International Airport, but control would transfer to a new board under Senate Bill 2162, which was recently passed by the Mississippi Legislature. The new board would be structured differently with nine commissioners, rather than the current five. Although Governor Bryant signed the Bill into law in 2016, it has only nominally taken effect. The FAA does not consider disputed airport transfers if there is pending litigation. JMAA and others sued, challenging S.B. 2162 under the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses, alleging discriminatory purposes. In discovery, Governor Bryant identified Chief of Staff Songy as a person having discoverable knowledge that would tend to support or refute any claim, defense, or element of damages in the case. JMAA moved to compel Songy’s deposition. Governor Bryant sought a protective order, claiming official privilege, which limits depositions. The Fifth Circuit declined to issue a writ of mandamus requested by the Governor. Involuntary depositions of highly-ranked government officials are only allowed in “exceptional circumstances.” A court must consider the status of the deponents, the potential burden on them, and the substantive reasons for taking the depositions; it rare that exceptional circumstances can be shown where the testimony is available from an alternate witness. The court nonetheless noted important aspects of this analysis that the lower court failed to fully consider, including parallel litigation regarding the deposition of legislators. View "In Re: Bryant" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit denied WCX's petition for review of the FCC's order denying its application for review to apply the Automatic Roaming Rule to its dispute. The court held that any alleged error that the Commission may have made in stating that WCX requested Mobile Broadband Internet Access Services was harmless and therefore did not warrant vacatur; the Commission did not act arbitrarily or capriciously in concluding that the Data Roaming Rule applied to this dispute; and the Commission's determination that AT&T's proposed rates were commercially reasonable was supported by substantial evidence and not arbitrary and capricious. View "Worldcall Interconnect, Inc. v. FCC" on Justia Law

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A certified class of minor children in the Permanent Managing Conservatorship (PMC) of DFPS filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983, seeking injunctive relief and alleging that Texas' maintenance of its foster care system exposes them to a serious risk of abuse, neglect, and harm to their physical and psychological well-being. The district court granted plaintiffs a permanent injunction requiring sweeping changes to the state's foster care system. The Fifth Circuit held that facts in the record adequately supported the finding that a policy or practice of maintaining overburdened caseworkers directly causes all PMC children to be exposed to a serious risk of physical and psychological harm; the district court correctly found that the State was deliberately indifferent to a substantial risk of serious harm to the Licensed Foster Care (LFC) subclass as a result of its insufficient monitoring and oversight, and that these deficiencies were a direct cause of the constitutional harm; the district court erred in concluding that inadequate placement array causes constitutionally cognizable harm to the LFC subclass and that the State was deliberately indifferent to a substantial risk of serious harm; and to the extent that the lack of awake-night supervision may have sustained a constitutional claim under the circumstances, the remaining policies and their effects did not cause foster group homes (FGH) children an amplified risk of harm sufficient to overcome the threshold hurdle. The court also held that Rule 23-specific arguments were waived. While the district court entered an expansive injunction mandating dozens of specific remedial measures and it was entitled to grant plaintiffs injunctive relief, the court held that the injunction was significantly overbroad. Accordingly, the court vacated the injunction and remanded with instructions to remove the remedial provisions related to placement array and FGHs, and to strike provisions that were not necessary to achieve constitutional compliance. View "M.D. v. Abbott" on Justia Law

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An action to recover civil penalties for violation of the preconstruction requirements for major emitting facilities under 42 U.S.C. 7475(a) must be brought within five years of the first day of the alleged construction period. The Government filed suit against Luminant, alleging that the company violated the Clean Air Act by failing to obtain a statutorily mandated preconstruction permit for the modification of their facilities. The district court dismissed the government's civil penalty and injunctive relief claims as time barred, and held that the injunctive relief claims were subject to dismissal for lack of jurisdiction. The Fifth Circuit held that the government, in its sovereign capacity, was exempted from the concurrent remedies doctrine; the statute of limitations did not apply to the government's claims for injunctive relief that were not civil fines, penalties, or forfeitures; there was no support for the district court's assumption that it was without jurisdiction to entertain any injunctive relief based on past violations of section 7475(a); and thus the district court was not barred by the statute of limitations, nor by the absence of jurisdiction, from further considering whether equitable relief may in some form be available to the government. Accordingly, the court remanded the injunctive relief claims for further consideration. View "United States v. Luminant Generation Co." on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal with prejudice as to relators and without prejudice as to the Government in an action under the False Claims Act (FCA). The court held that the district court did not err by dismissing the Government without prejudice when relators sought to abandon their claims. The court explained that relators acted on purely private interests and the Government, even one that chose not to intervene, should not be bound by that decision, because it was powerless to vindicate the public's interests in other actions that may have a stronger basis or a relator more able to shoulder the burdens of litigation. The court rejected United's remaining claims regarding relators' voluntary dismissal and held that the district court did not abuse its discretion. View "United States ex rel. Vaughn v. United Biologics, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit reversed the district court's grant of CFPB's petition to enforce a civil investigative demand (CID) against Public Data. The court held that, pursuant to 12 U.SC. 5562(c)(2), CFPB failed to advise Public Data of the nature of the conduct constituting the alleged violation which was under investigation and the provision of law applicable to such violation. View "Consumer Financial Protection Bureau v. The Source for Public Data" on Justia Law