Court Week

This week is Court Week at the Federal Circuit. In total, the court will convene eight panels to consider 41 cases. Of these 41 cases, the court will hear oral arguments in 27. The Federal Circuit is providing access to live audio of these arguments via the Federal Circuit’s YouTube channel. This month, two cases attracted amicus briefs. Here’s what you need to know about these two cases.

Darby Development Co. v. United States

As explained in our argument preview, in this case the Federal Circuit will review a decision by the Court of Federal Claims granting the government’s motion to dismiss physical takings and illegal exaction claims related to the Center for Disease Control’s eviction moratorium enacted during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Plaintiffs, a group of 38 residential property owners, argue in their opening brief that the Court of Federal Claims erred in dismissing their Fifth Amendment takings claims. According to Plaintiffs, the CDC order was “unauthorized”‘ and “beyond the scope of the CDC’s statutory authority.” Alternatively, Plaintiffs argue, even if the court finds no valid takings claim exists, Plaintiffs have a viable claim for illegal exaction because they were “compelled by the Government to pay the expenses associated with housing people the Government desired to be housed, in violation of their leases.”

In its response brief, the government argues the trial court correctly dismissed Plaintiff’s complaint because Supreme Court precedent precludes a Fifth Amendment takings claim against “agency action that was unauthorized by statute.” The government also asserts the Court of Federal Claims correctly dismissed the illegal exaction claim. According to the government, this claim is available only when, “acting contrary to law, the Government forces a plaintiff to pay money to the Government or to a third party at the Government’s direction.” And, the government continues, it did not require Plaintiffs to pay any money to the government or any third parties.

Three amicus briefs were filed in support of Plaintiffs by the New Civil Liberty Alliance, the National Association of Homebuilders, and the National Association of Realtors. 

Creighton R. Magid will argue for Darby. 

Nathanael Yale will argue for the United States.

This argument is scheduled to take place Thursday, September 7 in Courtroom 402 at 10:00 AM Eastern.

W.J. v. Secretary of Health and Human Services

As explained in our argument preview, in this case, the Federal Circuit will review a judgment of the Court of Federal Claims upholding a special master’s decision to grant a motion to dismiss a petition for compensation under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. While this is a pro se case, the Federal Circuit appointed amicus curiae to file a brief and argue on behalf of the appellant.

According to the opening pro se brief, W.J. “requests[s] compensation under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program” based on the allegation that a “Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) vaccination” caused or aggravated “chronic encephalopathy and immunodeficiency issues.”

In response, the Department of Health and Human Services argues the Special Master “did not abuse her discretion in determining that petitioners failed to file a timely petition.” According to the government, moreover, “she did not exceed her legal authority by addressing the statutes of limitations at the outset of the case, or by considering facts presented in the medical record.” The government also argues “Petitioners have not established a basis for equitable tolling” or “a violation of W.J.’s Constitutional rights.” 

“After considering the parties’ submissions,” the Federal Circuit issued an order in this case appointing an attorney, Angela M. Oliver, as “amicus curiae counsel in support of W.J. on the issue of equitable tolling.” She argues “the statute of limitations should be equitably tolled” because “W.J. was injured as a minor.” She asserts the “abrogation of a child’s rights is itself an ‘extraordinary circumstance’ justifying equitable tolling.”

Casen B. Ross will argue for the Secretary of Health and Human Services.

As mentioned, Oliver will argue on behalf of W.J.

This argument is scheduled to take place outside of Court Week, on Tuesday, September 26 in Courtroom 201 at 2:00 PM Eastern.