Articles Posted in Government & Administrative Law

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Petitioners challenged the FCC's 2017 order altering regulations for business data services (BDS). ILEC Petitioners challenged new price cap rates in the order and CLEC Petitioners challenged most of the other changes in the order. The Eighth Circuit granted CLEC's petitions in part and vacated in part. The court denied the petitions for review on all other issues. The court held that the FCC's 2016 notice gave CLEC adequate notice of large scale deregulation and of the adopted Competitive Market Test, but the notice failed to give sufficient notice of its ending of ex ante regulation of transport services. This failure prevented interested parties from informed participation in that portion of the rulemaking and release of a draft of the proposed order did not remedy the FCC's violation of its obligations under the Administrative Procedure Act. Therefore, the court vacated that portion of the final rule affecting time division multiplex transport services and remanded for further proceedings. The court rejected challenges to the FCC's adoption of the Competitive Market Test. The court also held that the FCC did not act unreasonably in excluding low bandwidth Ethernet business data services from price caps; in declining to extend the Interim Wholesale Access Rule to business data services; and in setting the "X-factor" annual price cap reduction at 2%. View "Citizens Telecommunications Company of Minnesota v. FCC" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, three shareholders, filed suit claiming that the federal agency Congress created to serve as conservator of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac exceeded its powers under the Housing and Economic Recovery Act (HERA) and acted arbitrarily and capriciously by agreeing to a "net worth sweep." The Eighth Circuit joined four sister circuits that have already rejected materially identical arguments from other shareholders. The court interpreted the anti-injunction provision to apply only to equitable relief, and only where FHFA has acted within its statutory powers. Such a reading was consistent with the presumption of reviewability. The court held that FHFA did not exceed its powers in assenting to the net worth sweep and thus HERA's anti-injunction provision was applicable. View "Saxton v. Federal Housing Finance Agency" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's partial grant of summary judgment for Children's Hospitals and decision to vacate a Medicaid policy, Frequently Asked Question 33, which explained how to calculate a hospital's uncompensated medical care costs. The court held that by imposing new reporting requirements for private insurance payments, Question 33 expanded the footprint of 42 C.F.R. 447.299 and thus constituted a substantive change in the regulation. The court explained that section 447.299 has specific language explicitly stating what payments must be deducted from each hospital's "total cost of care," and the Secretary's own definition of "uncompensated care costs" did not include private insurance payments. The court declined to read substantive changes into the regulation under the guise of interpretation. Furthermore, the court joined the First and Fourth Circuits in concluding that Question 33 was a legislative rule that was not adopted in accordance with the procedure required by law and thus must be set aside, notwithstanding the Secretary's policy arguments to the contrary. View "Children's Health Care v. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services" on Justia Law

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This appeal stemmed from consolidated actions alleging negligence and malicious conduct by the United States related to the development and maintenance of Albert Pike. In 2010, an intense storm system caused rapid and serious flooding of the river and resulted in the death of 20 campers. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of the United States's motion to dismiss based on lack of subject matter jurisdiction under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA). Applying the Arkansas Recreational Use Statute, the court held that the campsite fee the Park Service charged was not an admission fee, and charging the fee did not disqualify the Park Service from claiming immunity under the statute. Furthermore, camping within a 100-year floodplain was not an uncommon recreational activity in Arkansas and the activity was of common usage. Therefore, the statute's immunity would extend to a private land owner facing this claim and the government could claim the immunity. View "Moss v. United States" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment deferring to an insurance policy interpretation made by the FCIC and a determination regarding the FCIC's authority made by the RMA. The court held that the clear language of the Federal Crop Insurance Act indicated that Congress intended the Corporation to have extensive and broad authority; given the FCIA's broad grant of authority to the Corporation, and the specific authority over the provisions of insurance and insurance contracts found in 5 U.S.C. 1505 and 1506, substantial deference was given to the FCIC's interpretation of the special provision; and, considering the plain language of the insurance contract and the deference given to the RMA in its role of supervisor of the FCIC, the RMA's determination that the FCIC was required to provide an interpretation of the special provision to the arbitrating parties was not clearly erroneous. View "Bottoms Farm Partnership v. Perdue" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit granted Bussen's petition for review of the MSHA's issuance of a citation to Bussen. In this case, the Secretary claimed that Bussen violated federal regulation 30 C.F.R. 56.15005, which requires the use of certain fall-protection equipment at surface metal and nonmetal mines when working where there is a danger of falling. The court held that there was no evidence to support a conclusion that any miner approached the highwall edge when moving the pump cart or were otherwise working without safety belts and lines where there was a danger of falling. Therefore, substantial evidence did not support the ALJ's finding that Bussen violated section 56.15005. View "Bussen Quarries, Inc. v. Acosta" on Justia Law

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This appeal arose from the DOL's investigation of possible violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act by La Piedad. The Eighth Circuit reversed the district court's grant of the DOL's motion to hold La Piedad in civil contempt for failing to produce documents identifying other businesses owned by La Piedad's shareholders. The court held that the DOL failed to meet its burden to introduce evidence that would support a subpoena to produce documents not in La Piedad's possession, custody, or control. View "Hugler v. La Piedad Corp." on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed on remand the district court's conclusion that Exemption 4 of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) did not apply to SNAP redemption information. The court rejected the USDA's claim that release of the relevant information would cause competitive injury among the covered grocery retailers and held that the claim was speculative. In this case, evidence showed that the contested data—which was nothing more than annual aggregations of SNAP redemptions—lacked the specificity needed to gain material insight into an individual store's financial health, profit margins, inventory, marketing strategies, sales trends, or market share. Furthermore, there was no meaningful evidence that retailers would end their SNAP participation if the contested data were released. View "Argus Leader Media v. Food Marketing Institute" on Justia Law

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The Tribe filed suit alleging that the Corps violated the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), the Clean Water Act (CWA), and the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) in issuing permit and exemption determinations to a real property owner. The permits and exemptions allowed the owner to construct a road by dredging and filling portions of Enemy Swim Lake. With one exception, the Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the Tribe's claims. The court held that the 2010 letter issued by the Corp did not constitute a final agency action for purposes of the permit and exemption determinations, and that the Tribe's recapture claim was a nonjusticiable enforcement action; the Tribe was not eligible for equitable tolling in this case; the Corps did not act arbitrarily and capriciously by determining that the owner's 2009 project qualified for a nationwide permit; and the court did not have appellate jurisdiction to address the lawfulness of the Corps's NHPA regulations. View "Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate of the Lake Traverse Reservation v. U.S. Corps of Engineers" on Justia Law

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The City of Kennett, Missouri, sued the Environmental Protection Agency, challenging the EPA’s approval of a total maximum daily load for Buffalo Ditch. Buffalo Ditch was a stream that ran southwest into Arkansas from the City. The City’s Wastewater Treatment Plant was a point source of pollutants into it. Parts of Buffalo Ditch had been on Missouri’s EPA-approved list of impaired waters since 1994, due to low levels of dissolved oxygen (DO), which supported aquatic life. The final total maximum daily load” (TMDL) set wasteload allocations for pollutants from the Treatment Plant. These wasteload allocations were more stringent than the limited in the City’s National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit. The City’s permit was to expire in 2015; in its “Implementation Plan” for point sources, the TMDL stated if it was determined the current water quality criterion for dissolved oxygen was appropriate, the wasteload allocations from the TMDL would be implemented. If not appropriate, and a new dissolved oxygen criterion was promulgated, then new wasteload allocations would be calculated and implemented. Despite this intention, the DO criterion and the TMDL did not change. The City sued, alleging: (1) the EPA exceeded its authority in approving the TMDL; (2) the EPA acted arbitrarily and capriciously; (3) the EPA failed to provide the required notice and comment. The Eighth Circuit determined the City waived a claim by failing to mention or argue for summary judgment on that claim, and by failing to respond to the EPA's motion for summary judgment on the claim. With respect to its remaining claims and the issue of standing, the City established injury in fact as it would incur costs in complying with any new limits on pollution discharge from its waste water plant. Similarly, because the injury was impending, the City also established redressability, and it had standing to bring this action. Further, the Court determined the case was ripe, and the district court erred in granting the EPA summary judgment based on a lack of standing and ripeness. The EPA argued the City waived its remaining claims by failing to raise them in the administrative process; because it would be beneficial to permit the district court to address this issue in the first instance, the matter was remanded for further proceedings on this question and, if necessary, the merits of those issues. View "City of Kennett v. Env. Prot. Agency" on Justia Law