Court Week

This week is Court Week at the Federal Circuit, with hearings starting today. The Federal Circuit is providing access to live audio of each panel scheduled for argument via the Federal Circuit’s YouTube channel. In total, the court will convene eight panels to consider 37 cases. Of these 37 cases, the court will hear oral arguments in 28. Of these argued cases, two cases attracted amicus briefs, one an en banc case addressing federal benefits and another a government contract case. Here’s what you need to know about these cases.

 Adams v. United States

As explained in our argument preview, in this en banc case the Federal Circuit will address whether on-the-job exposure to the recent novel coronavirus entitles federal correctional officers to additional pay pursuant to various federal statutes.

Adams argues that the lower court’s order “directly contradicts an earlier decision of the Court of Federal Claims, . . . which correctly found that correctional officers had cognizable . . . claims for their exposure to COVID-19 in the course of their assigned duties.” In support, Adams makes several arguments, including arguments responsive to the court’s order granting en banc status to this case.

In response, the government argues that “[p]laintiff’s claims are contrary to both Congress’s intent in adopting the HDP [hazardous duty pay] and EDP [environmental differential pay] statues, and to the language of the Office of Personnel Management’s (OPM) Implementing regulations.” 

Two amicus briefs were filed, both in support of Adams, by the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations and the National Treasury Employees Union.

Molly A. Elkin will argue for Adams.

Albert S. Iarossi will argue for the government.

This argument is scheduled to take place this Friday, December 9 in Courtroom 201 at 10:00 AM Eastern.

Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co. v. Secretary of the Air Force

As explained in our argument preview, in this case the Federal Circuit will consider whether the federal government’s resort to unilateral price determinations under two F-16 Aircraft contracts constituted government claims under the Contract Disputes Act of 1978.

According to Lockheed Martin, “the plain language of the CDA [Contract Disputes Act], the FAR [Federal Acquisition Regulation], the DFARS [Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement], and this Court’s precedent interpreting those authorities make clear that modifications unilaterally imposing prices, requiring a contractor to continue performing at no additional costs, and adjusting the contract terms constitute . . . Government nonmonetary ‘claims’ under the CDA.”

In response, the Secretary of the Air Force maintains “the contracting officers simply performed their duties to definitize the contracts and establish prices.” Further, the government argues, “[b]ecause definitizations are not Government claims under the CDA’s definition, the definition of ‘claim’ in the CDA’s implementing regulations—the FAR and, specifically, FAR 2.101—cannot independently make definitizations ‘Government claims,’ as Lockheed Martin asserts.”

Skye Mathieson will argue for Lockheed Martin.

Amanda L. Tantum will argue for the Secretary of the Air Force.

This argument is scheduled to take place this Thursday, December 8 in Courtroom 201 at 10:00 AM Eastern.