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

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The Department of Commerce initiated a less-than-fair-value investigation into the importation of welded line pipe from Korea, focused on sales by two Korea-based respondents, SeAH and HYSCO. Commerce issued a preliminary determination that SeAH likely was selling welded line pipe in the U.S. at less than fair value during the relevant period. SeAH filed a case brief challenging Commerce’s statistical analysis and citing academic literature in support of that challenge. Commerce rejected SeAH’s case brief for violating procedural regulations and issued a final determination. Commerce calculated SeAH’s weighted-average dumping margin to be above the de minimis threshold for less-than-fair-value investigations by applying its differential pricing analysis to SeAH’s sales and selecting the hybrid approach for calculating SeAH’s weighted-average dumping margin. The Trade Court affirmed.The Federal Circuit affirmed in part, upholding Commerce’s rejection of portions of SeAH’s case brief and aspects of the analysis Commerce used to derive the dumping margin. The court vacated and remanded to give Commerce an opportunity to explain whether the limits on the use of the Cohen’s d test to evaluate whether the test group differs significantly from the comparison group were satisfied or whether those limits need not be observed when Commerce uses the test in less-than-fair-value adjudications. The court “invited” Commerce to clarify its argument that having the entire universe of data rather than a sample makes it permissible to disregard the otherwise-applicable limitations on the use of the Cohen’s d test. View "Stupp Corp. v. United States" on Justia Law

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Tadlock served in the Army, 1982-2003, including service in the Persian Gulf. In 2010, he suffered a pulmonary embolism (PE) that resulted in a heart attack. Tadlock sought presumptive service connection under 38 U.S.C. 1117, which refers to a “qualifying chronic disability” for veterans who served in the Persian Gulf War. The regulations limit the definition of “qualifying chronic disability” to one that, “[b]y history, physical examination, and laboratory tests cannot be attributed to any known clinical diagnosis.” Tadlock underwent a final medical examination by a VA physician, who explained that Tadlock’s PE “is not an undiagnosed illness.” The Board of Veterans Appeals based its denial of service connection on that opinion.Neither the Board nor the examiner made any finding that Tadlock’s condition was not a “medically unexplained chronic multisymptom illness” (MUCMI). Tadlock contended that the statute expressly includes both “an undiagnosed illness” and a MUCMI. The Veterans Court found that Tadlock's PE was "not characterized by overlapping signs and symptoms and unique features ... and disproportional disability when compared with physical findings.” It held that "any error in the Board decision regarding whether his diagnosed illness could count as a MUCMI is harmless.”The Federal Circuit vacated. The Veterans Court exceeded its authority in making a fact-finding in the first instance that Tadlock’s illness did not qualify as a MUCMI because of a lack of overlapping symptoms. The Veterans Court’s jurisdiction to consider prejudicial error does not give it the right to make de novo findings of fact or otherwise resolve matters that are open to debate. View "Tadlock v. McDonough" on Justia Law

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TRI filed entries of citric acid, identifying India as the country of origin, which allowed TRI to file the subject entries as type 01 “consumption” entries, which are not subject to duties, rather than type 03 “consumption—antidumping (AD)/countervailing duty (CVD)” entries. Customs requested information regarding the entries. TRI responded with documentation of the purchase and receipt of citric acid monohydrate from suppliers in India and the processing of the citric acid monohydrate into citric acid anhydrous. TRI admits that the origin of the citric acid monohydrate is unknown. Customs extended liquidation of the entries, 19 U.S.C. 1504(b)(1). Customs’ Office of Laboratory and Scientific Services investigated the processing of the citric acid in India; Customs determined that the product was not substantially transformed and therefore not a product of India. The entries would be liquidated with the applicable consumption, anti-dumping and countervailing duties.TRI filed suit in the Court of International Trade, asserting residual jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. 1581(I). Separately, TRI also protested Customs’ liquidation of its entries. The Federal Circuit affirmed the Trade Court’s dismissal of the suit for lack of jurisdiction because jurisdiction was available under other section 1581 subsections. Where a plaintiff asserts section 1581(i) jurisdiction, it “bears the burden of showing that another subsection is either unavailable or manifestly inadequate.” TRI has not established that a scope determination or a protest were unavailable or manifestly inadequate. View "TR International Trading Co., Inc. v. United States" on Justia Law

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Straw claims that he was injured as an infant by contaminated water at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina and that his injury resulted in a mental disability. Straw previously sued under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA). That action was combined with similar cases in a Multidistrict Litigation proceeding in the Northern District of Georgia, which ruled that Straw’s FTCA claims were barred by North Carolina’s 10-year statute of repose. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed; the Supreme Court denied certiorari.Straw then filed suit, seeking $6,000,000 in compensatory damages, arguing that the rulings of the Georgia district court constituted a judicial taking of his tort claims and the damages he sought in that action. The Claims Court dismissed his complaint, citing lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The Federal Circuit affirmed. By claiming that the Georgia district court and the Eleventh Circuit had caused a taking of his personal-injury cause of action, Straw was effectively asking the Claims Court to overturn the decisions of those courts that his FTCA claim was time-barred. The court noted that Straw’s claim sounded in tort, given the underlying personal bodily harm; tort claims are expressly excluded from the jurisdiction of the Claims Court under the Tucker Act, 28 U.S.C. 1491. View "Straw v. United States" on Justia Law

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Bot sued Sony, alleging infringement of six patents related to gaming. The district court held a case management conference, during which Bot agreed to file an amended complaint. The district court dismissed Bot's amended complaint as to the 540, 990, 988, and 670 patents and denied Bot’s motion for leave to file a second amended complaint. As to the 363 patent, the district court granted Sony summary judgment, finding claim 1 invalid under 35 U.S.C. 101.The Federal Circuit affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded for further proceedings. To the extent the district court characterized its colloquy with counsel during the case management conference as “directing” Bot to file a first amended complaint, there was no abuse of discretion, nor in dismissing Bot’s claims as to the 540 and 990 patents for failure to state a plausible claim of infringement. A plaintiff is not required to plead infringement on an element-by-element basis but there must be some factual allegations that, when taken as true, articulate why it is plausible that the accused product infringes the patent claim. With respect to the 988 and 670 patents, the district court erred in finding the infringement allegations insufficient. Claim 1 of the 363 patent is invalid under section 101. View "Bot M8 LLC v. Sony Corp. of America" on Justia Law

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Under 19 U.S.C. 1862, if the President receives, and agrees with, a finding by the Secretary of Commerce that imports of an article threaten to impair national security, the President shall take action to alleviate the threat. Section 1862(c)(1) specifies a period within which the President is to concur or disagree with the Secretary’s finding and to determine the necessary action and another period within which the President is thereafter to implement the chosen action.In January 2018, the Secretary found that imports of steel threatened to impair national security by causing domestic steel-production capacity to be used less than the level needed for operation of the plants to be profitably sustained. In March 2018, within the period prescribed, the President agreed with that finding and announced a plan (Proclamation 9705) that imposed some tariffs immediately, announced negotiations with specified nations, and stated that the immediate measures might be adjusted as necessary. Within months, the President determined that imports were still too high to meet the Secretary’s identified target and raised the tariff on steel from Turkey, Proclamation 9772.The Trade Court found Proclamation 9772 unlawful. The Federal Circuit reversed. The President did not depart from the Secretary’s finding of a national-security threat; the March 2018 presidential action announced a continuing course of action that could include adjustments. The President’s decision to take one of several possible steps to achieve the goal of increasing utilization of domestic steel plants’ capacity for national security reasons meets the rational-basis standard. View "Transpacific Steel LLC v. United States" on Justia Law

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Rudisill served three periods of active duty military service: 2000-2002 in the Army (30 months); 2004-2005 in the Army National Guard (18 months); and 2007-2011 as a commissioned Army officer (45 months). He received 25 months and 14 days of education benefits under the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB), 38 U.S.C. 3011(a), for completion of his college degree. After his third period of Army service, he applied for education benefits under the Post-9/11 GI Bill, 38 U.S.C. 3311, for a graduate program. The VA determined that he was entitled to the Post-9/11 benefits, but only for the remaining 10 months and 16 days of the 36 months authorized for Montgomery benefits. The Board of Veterans’ Appeals agreed.The Veterans Court reversed. A veteran is entitled to education benefits for each of his periods of separately qualifying service and is entitled to the aggregate cap of 48 months of benefits. The Federal Circuit affirmed. The legislation explicitly provides additional benefits to veterans with multiple periods of qualifying service, whereby each period of service qualifies for education benefits: “The aggregate period for which any person may receive assistance under two or more of the provisions of law listed below may not exceed 48 months,” 38 U.S.C. 3695(a). This provision has been in each GI Bill since at least 1968. View "Rudisill v. McDonough" on Justia Law

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Adams, a member of the Arizona Air National Guard, worked in human resources for Customs and Border Patrol (the agency). In 2018, Adams performed three periods of National Guard military service. Between April 11 and July 13, Adams was activated under 10 U.S.C. 12301(d) to support a military personnel appropriation (MPA) tour in support of Twelfth Air Force; July 18-July 30, he was ordered to attend annual training under 32 U.S.C. 502(a). Between July 28 and September 30, Adams was again activated under section 12301(d) to support an MPA tour. Both 12301(d) orders stated that they were “non-contingency” activation orders.Under 5 U.S.C. 5538(a), federal employees who are absent from civilian positions due to certain military responsibilities may qualify to receive the difference between their military pay and what they would have been paid in their civilian employment during the time of their absence (differential pay). Adams requested differential pay for each of his periods of service. Adams appealed the agency's denials. The Merit Systems Protection Board held that the denials did not violate the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994, 38 U.S.C. 4301–4335). The Federal Circuit affirmed. Entitlement to differential pay requires service under a call to active duty that meets the statutory definition of a contingency operation. None of Adams’s service meets the statutory requirements for differential pay, View "Adams v. Department of Homeland Security" on Justia Law

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Ikorongo Texas was formed as a Texas LLC and, a month later, filed patent infringement complaints in the Western District of Texas. Although "Texas" claims to be unrelated to Ikorongo Tech, a North Carolina LLC, both are run out of the same North Carolina office; as of March 2020, the same five individuals “own[ed] all of the issued and outstanding membership interests” in both. "Tech" owns the patents at issue. Days before the complaints were filed, Tech assigned to Texas exclusive rights to sue for infringement and collect damages for those patents within specified parts of Texas while retaining those rights in the rest of the country. First amended complaints named both entities as co-plaintiffs and do not distinguish between infringement in the Western District of Texas and infringement elsewhere.The defendants moved under 28 U.S.C. 1404(a) to transfer the suits to the Northern District of California, arguing that three of the five accused third-party applications were developed in and potential witnesses and sources of proof were located in Northern California while no application was developed or researched in and no sources of proof were in Western Texas. The court denied the motions, reasoning that Ikorongo Texas’s rights could not have been infringed in California.The Federal Circuit directed the lower court to grant the transfer motions. The case “might have been brought” in California; the presence of Ikorongo Texas is recent, ephemeral, and artificial—a maneuver in anticipation of litigation. The district court here assigned too little weight to the relative convenience of California and overstated concerns about judicial resources and inconsistent results; other public interest factors favor transfer. View "In re Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd." on Justia Law

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The Department of Defense's experiments at Edgewood involved “volunteers,” including Taylor, who was on active duty, 1969-1971. Taylor signed a secrecy oath providing that he would not divulge any information related to the program and that any such action would render him liable to punishment and signed a document stating that the experiment had been explained to him and that he volunteered to participate. Taylor was exposed to a nerve agent, a tear gas agent, and more. Taylor experienced hallucinations, nausea, jumpiness, irritability, sleepiness, dizziness, impaired coordination, and difficulty concentrating. He was subsequently deployed to Vietnam, for two combat tours. The secrecy of the project prevented Taylor from obtaining psychiatric help and from showing extenuating circumstances during his court-martial.In 2006, the Edgewood names were declassified. The VA notified participants that they were permitted to disclose to health care providers information about their involvement at Edgewood that affected their health. In 2007, Taylor sought service-connected benefits for PTSD. A VA medical examiner diagnosed Taylor with PTSD and major depressive disorder, “a cumulative response” to his Edgewood experience and “subsequent re-traumatization in Vietnam.” Taylor had previously sought treatment for his PTSD but was rejected because the provider believed he lied about being an experimental subject.The VA granted Taylor’s claim, with a 2007 effective date, citing the absence of an earlier claim. On remand, the VA failed to obtain the language of Taylor’s secrecy oath and again concluded that the earliest assignable effective date was 2007; “nothing prevented [Taylor] from filing a claim.” The Veterans Court affirmed.The Federal Circuit reversed. The Veterans Court erred in concluding it lacked equitable authority absent an express statutory grant and erred in concluding that 38 U.S.C. 5110(a)(1) is not subject to common law equitable doctrines. The government affirmatively and intentionally prevented veterans from seeking medical care and applying for disability benefits to which they are otherwise entitled under threat of criminal prosecution and loss of the very benefits sought. “If equitable estoppel is ever to lie against the Government, it is here—to preserve the ‘interest of citizens in some minimum standard of decency, honor, and reliability in their dealings with their Government.’” View "Taylor v. McDonough" on Justia Law