Articles Posted in Civil Rights

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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Core Wireless sued Apple for patent infringement in the Eastern District of Texas. Core, a Luxembourg company with one employee, is a wholly-owned subsidiary of MOSAID, a Canadian corporation. Core Wireless shares office space with a division MOSAID in Plano, Texas. Apple is a California corporation with a principal place of business in Cupertino, California. The heart of the patent dispute involves baseband processing chips installed in the accused product, which are supplied by California companies, Qualcomm and Intel. Apple moved to transfer the case to the Northern District of California. The district court denied the motion, emphasizing the lack of specificity in Apple’s assertions as to why the transfer factors favored California. Apple then sought to supplement the record. The district court denied the motion, noting that “[t]here is no indication that all of this relevant information was not accessible at the time Apple had filed its transfer motion.” Apple sought a writ of mandamus instructing the district court to vacate its orders. The Federal Circuit denied the petition, finding no abuse of discretion. View "In re: Apple Inc." on Justia Law

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Based on misconduct that he allegedly committed in his previous positions as a police officer and deputy sheriff, the Transportation Security Administration suspended and ultimately revoked Gargiulo’s security clearance, which was necessary for his job as a Federal Air Marshall. The Merit Systems Protection Board affirmed. On appeal, Gargiulo argued that the agency deprived him of constitutional due process by not timely providing him with documentary materials relied upon in deciding to suspend his security clearance. Although he was given notice of the reasons for the suspension of his security clearance as early as August 2008, he was not provided with copies of the documentary materials until May 2009, three months after he was suspended from his job. The Federal Circuit affirmed, stating that security clearance decisions do not implicate any due process rights. View "Gargiulo v. Dep't of Homeland Sec." on Justia Law

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Smith was disbarred by the Tenth Circuit in 1996, followed by reciprocal disbarments by the Fifth Circuit, the U.S. District of Colorado and Northern District of Texas, and the Colorado Supreme Court. In 2007, the Tenth Circuit granted reinstatement, provided that Smith met conditions. The conditions were satisfied, and Smith was reinstated. The other courts then readmitted him to their bars, except the Colorado Supreme Court. The United States District Court for the District of Colorado then reversed itself and denied reinstatement, because Smith remained disbarred by the Colorado Supreme Court. The Tenth Circuit affirmed. Smith filed suit in the Court of Federal Claims, seeking compensation and equitable relief, alleging violations substantive and procedural due process and of equal protection, and judicial takings of his private property right to practice law and make a living. The Claims Court dismissed, reasoning that absent a money-mandating statute providing for compensation for such government action, it had no jurisdiction and that because the revocation actions became final no later than 1999, suit under the Tucker Act was barred by the six-year limitations period, 28 U.S.C. 2501.. The Federal Circuit affirmed. View "Smith v. United States" on Justia Law

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Young served as a Public Housing Revitalization Specialist in the Office of Public Housing in the Cleveland office of the Department of Housing and Urban Development for 10 years. Young was representing himself at an arbitration hearing, appealing his five-day suspension for disruptive behavior, misrepresentation of authority, and use of insulting language to and about other employees. One of the witnesses testifying against him was Darr, Executive Director of the Coschocton Metropolitan Housing Authority and a HUD client. Following Darr’s testimony, there was a recess; Darr claims that while he was walking down the hallway, about 25-30 feet away from Young, Young shouted from immediately outside the door of the hearing room, “[y]ou are a racist. You are a member of the KKK, and you should be shot.” Young was later placed on administrative leave; notice of proposed removal issued. Interviews were conducted after Young submitted his oral and written statements, so that Young was unaware of the content and substance of the interviews and was unable to respond to anything unearthed during those interviews. An arbitrator rejected a challenge to Young’s termination. The Federal Circuit reversed, finding that the agency violated Young’s due process rights and its own procedures. View "Young v. Dep't of Housing & Urban Dev." on Justia Law

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Semper worked as a probation officer for the District Court of the Virgin Islands until he was removed from his position on August 6, 2010. The reason given for his termination was that he was negligent in supervision of a convicted defendant who was killed while on release pending sentencing. . Semper filed a complaint in the Claims Court against the United States, the Chief Judge, and the court’s Chief Probation Officer. The Claims Court dismissed, holding that it lacked jurisdiction. The Federal Circuit affirmed, first holding that the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978, 5 U.S.C. 7501-7543, applied to Semper, regardless of which governmental branch employed him. He was classified as a member of the “excepted service,” not the “competitive service,” and was not among those excepted service employees whom the statute makes eligible for judicial or administrative review of adverse agency action. View "Semper v. United States" on Justia Law