This morning the Federal Circuit issued a precedential opinion in an employment case appealed from the Merit Systems Protection Board. The court also released two nonprecedential opinions. The first comes in a veterans case appealed from the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. The second comes in a case appealed from the Court of Federal Claims and addresses issues related to spoliation of evidence. Finally, the Federal Circuit issued a Rule 36 judgment. Here are the introductions to the opinions and a link to the Rule 36 judgment.

Standley v. Department of Energy (Precedential)

Dr. Vaughn H. Standley at the time this case arose was employed by the U.S. Department of Energy (hereinafter “DOE”) in its National Nuclear Security Administration. He petitions for review of the Merit Systems Protection Board’s (“MSPB” or “Board”) decision denying his request for corrective action in an individual right of action appeal. We have jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1295(a)(9).

Petitioner alleges that the DOE retaliated against him when he made repeated attempts to correct what he considered a seriously erroneous agency decision related to the mission of providing space-based nuclear detection. Unsuccessful at the agency level and convinced that the agency thereafter retaliated against him for attempting to ensure our continued nuclear detection capability as required by law, Dr. Standley made repeated attempts to get the Merit Systems Protection Board to correct the agency. His attempts failed there as well.

As we shall explain, this case is his latest attempt to get help—including from this court—in his cause. Because the Board again ruled against him, we must decide whether the Board properly denied corrective action on the record presented.

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The Board’s decision was supported by substantial evidence and was not arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with law, or obtained without procedures required by law, rule, or regulation having been followed. We have considered Dr. Standley’s remaining arguments and find them unpersuasive. In sum, we believe that the record shows conclusively that Dr. Standley has had more than his day in court.

Adeyi v. McDonough (Nonprecedential)

David A. Adeyi appeals from the decision of the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (Veterans Court). Adeyi v. Wilkie, No. 19-0884, 2020 WL 1237739 (Vet. App. Mar. 16, 2020) (Veterans Court Decision). The Veterans Court affirmed the decision of the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (Board), which denied service connection for right and left knee disorders. Id. at *1.

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We dismiss the appeal as untimely filed and, therefore, for lack of jurisdiction.

Jones v. United States (Nonprecedential)

Debra Jones and Arden C. Post (collectively “Mr. Murray’s parents”) appeal from a final judgment in favor of the United States in Jones v. United States, 149 Fed. Cl. 335 (Fed. Cl. 2020) (“Issue Preclusion Order”) and from an order sanctioning the United States for spoliating a handgun and finding that the federal government did not spoliate other evidence in Jones v. United States, 146 Fed. Cl. 726 (Fed. Cl. 2020) (“Spoliation Order”). We hold that the Court of Federal Claims (“Claims Court”) applied the wrong standard in its spoliation opinion when it found that the government did not have a duty to preserve any allegedly spoliated evidence other than the Hi-Point .380 handgun. We also conclude that the Claims Court abused its discretion in issuing an ineffective sanction for the government’s spoliation of the handgun. We further find that the Claims Court erred in finding that the spoliation of the handgun did not change the evidentiary landscape of this case as compared to a related previously litigated case before the District Court for the District of Utah. That erroneous finding led the Claims Court to incorrectly find that the doctrine of issue preclusion barred Mr. Murray’s parents from relitigating issues critical to their claims. We reverse-in-part, vacate-in-part, and remand.

Rule 36 Judgment