This morning the Federal Circuit issued three precedential opinions. The first comes in a veterans case appealed from the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims; the second comes in a takings case appealed from the Court of Federal Claims; and the third comes in a military discharge case appealed from the Court of Federal Claims. The Court also issued five nonprecedential opinions in various cases appealed from the Court of Federal Claims, the Merit Systems Protection Board, and the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. Here are the introductions to the opinions.
Gurley v. McDonough (Precedential)
After beginning to receive veterans’ disability compensation benefits, Randolph S. Gurley was incarcerated for a felony for a short period. Not knowing of the incarceration until it ended, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) paid Mr. Gurley’s full benefits during the period, even though 38 U.S.C. § 5313 prescribes a substantial reduction of payments to the veteran for certain incarceration periods. When VA learned of Mr. Gurley’s incarceration after his release, it retroactively reduced the benefits for the now-ended incarceration period, and to recoup the overpayment it had made, VA withheld payment of continuing benefits for a time, as authorized by 38 U.S.C. § 5314. Mr. Gurley unsuccessfully appealed to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals and the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (Veterans Court), contending that the statute does not permit a retroactive reduction for a period of incarceration that has already ended. Mr. Gurley renews his argument on appeal to us, but we agree with the Veterans Court that 38 U.S.C. § 5313 authorizes VA to make a post-incarceration decision to reduce benefits retroactively for the specified period of incarceration. We therefore affirm.
Anderson v. United States (Precedential)
In this rails-to-trails case, the United States Court of Federal Claims interpreted multiple real property deeds and determined that the property owners conveyed fee simple interests, not easements, to a railroad. The Court of Federal Claims granted summary judgment for Appellee, the United States, upon determining that no takings from the landowners occurred when the government later authorized conversion of the railroad line to a recreation trail. We hold that the granting clauses of the subject deeds unambiguously conveyed fee simple interests in the land and not easements despite contradictory language elsewhere in the deeds. We affirm the judgment of the Court of Federal Claims.
Nicely v. United States (Precedential)
Josiah Nicely appeals a decision of the United States Court of Federal Claims (“Claims Court”) that: (1) dismissed Count II of Nicely’s complaint, which the Claims Court concluded was predicated on an alleged violation of the Military Whistleblower Protection Act (“MWPA”), 10 U.S.C. § 1034, over which the court lacked subject matter jurisdiction; and (2) granted the government’s cross-motion for judgment on the administrative record as to all remaining issues. Nicely v. United States, 147 Fed. Cl. 727 (2020). One such issue was Nicely’s contention that the Board for Correction of Naval Records’ (“BCNR” or “Board”) denial of his request for correction of his military record must be set aside because the BCNR contained unauthorized members. Specifically, Nicely asserts that the BCNR panel that considered his request contained retired military members who did not qualify as “civilians of the executive part” of the Navy as 10 U.S.C. § 1552(a)(1) requires.
On appeal, Nicely challenges the Claims Court’s dismissal of Count II and its determination that the BCNR’s long-standing practice of permitting retired members of the military to serve as members of the Board does not violate 10 U.S.C. § 1552(a)(1)’s requirement that the Secretary of the Navy “act through boards of civilians of the executive part of that military department.” For the following reasons, we affirm.
Allen v. United States (Nonprecedential)
Derrick Michael Allen, Sr. appeals a decision of the United States Court of Federal Claims dismissing his complaint for lack of jurisdiction. Because Mr. Allen’s claims are outside the scope of the Court of Federal Claims’ jurisdiction, we affirm.
Allen v. United States (Nonprecedential)
Derrick Michael Allen, Sr. appeals a decision of the United States Court of Federal Claims dismissing his complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Because Mr. Allen’s claims are outside the scope of the Court of Federal Claims’ jurisdiction, we affirm.
Brown v. Department of the Air Force (Nonprecedential)
Jacqueline Brown appeals the decision of the Merit Systems Protection Board (Board) dismissing her individual right of action as precluded by the doctrine of res judicata, or, in the alternative, the doctrine of collateral estoppel. Brown v. Dep’t of the Air Force, No. SF-1221-21- 0350-W-1, 2021 WL 3601837 (M.S.P.B. Aug. 9, 2021) (Board Decision) (Appx. 1–17). Because the Board correctly applied the doctrine of res judicata, we affirm on that ground.
Marana v. Merit Systems Protection Board (Nonprecedential)
David P. Marana seeks review of an order of the Merit Systems Protection Board dismissing his Individual Right of Action (“IRA”) appeal for lack of jurisdiction. We affirm in part and remand in part.
Johnson v. McDonough (Nonprecedential)
Leonard D. Johnson appeals from the decision of the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (“the Veterans Court”). Johnson v. Wilkie, No. 19-6963, 2020 WL 5414588 (Sept. 10, 2020) (“Veterans Court Decision”). The Veterans Court affirmed the decision of the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (“the Board”), which held that the Department of Veterans Affairs (“VA”) properly recouped special separation benefits (“SSB”) by withholding disability compensation payments, denied entitlement to revision of rating decisions on the basis of clear and unmistakable error (“CUE”), and denied entitlement to an effective date earlier than May 7, 2012, for the grant of service connection for bilateral knee sprains. For the reasons provided below, we affirm the Veterans Court’s decision with respect to recoupment of SSB and we dismiss Johnson’s appeal with respect to the other issues.