Justia U.S. Federal Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Transportation Law
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In 1998, the Supreme Court held that the Harbor Maintenance Tax, 26 U.S.C. 4461-4462, was unconstitutional as applied to exports. U.S. Customs enacted procedures for refunds and established a separate HMT database with data from its ACS database, through which HMT payments had been processed. Customs discovered wide-spread inaccuracies in its HMT database, but was unable to make corrections related to payments made before July 1, 1990, because it no longer had original documents. Customs established different requirements for supporting documentation, depending on whether an exporter was seeking a refund of pre- or post-July 1, 1990 payments. Ford sought HMT refunds for both pre- and post-July 1, 1990, payments and has received more than $17 million, but claims that Customs still owes about $2.5 million. In addition to a FOIA Report of Ford’s pre-July 1, 1990 payments was drawn from information in the ACS database, Ford submitted an affidavit attesting that it was only claiming refunds of HMT paid on exports and declarations about the consistency and quality of its quarterly HMT payment records. Customs denied the claims. The Trade Court entered judgment in favor of the government. The Federal Circuit affirmed. The claims were insufficient because there still was high potential for error. View "Ford Motor Co. v. United States" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs owned land in the Chaparral railroad corridor, converted for trail use by the ICC under the National Trails System Act, 16 U.S.C. 1247(d) and filed a class action compensation claim against the government. After the government stipulated to takings liability on certain claims, the parties cooperated to determine compensation. The district court approved a settlement of $1,241,385.36, including pre-judgment interest. Plaintiffs sought attorneys' fees of $832,674 under the Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act, 42 U.S.C. 4654(c) for 2,119.69 hours of work at market rates for the District of Columbia, where counsel practiced, rather than rates for the Texas forum where the case was filed. The district court determined that 18.2 hours were unreasonable, that the relevant market was the District of Columbia and calculated a lodestar figure of $826,044.19, but considering the results obtained, reduced by 50% and awarded $413,022.10. The Federal Circuit vacated. While a court may reduce the lodestar figure to account for the amount involved and results obtained, those factors should be considered in calculating the lodestar figure, rather after that calculation. The district court should have used forum rates in determining the reasonable hourly rate. View "Bywaters v. United States" on Justia Law