Court Week / En Banc Activity

Court Week – What You Need to Know

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 nine panels to consider 45 cases. Of these 45 cases, the court will hear oral arguments in 27. Of these argued cases, one case—an en banc case—attracted any amicus briefs. Here’s what you need to know about this case.

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Argument Preview / Supreme Court Activity

Argument Preview – Arellano v. McDonough

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Arellano v. McDonough, a case raising questions about equitable tolling of a one-year filing deadline for retroactive veterans benefits. Under 38 U.S.C. § 5110(b)(1), “[t]he effective date of an award of disability compensation to a veteran shall be the day following the date of the veteran’s discharge or release if application therefor is received within one year from such date of discharge or release.” Although the Supreme Court held in Irwin v. Dep’t of Veterans Affairs that “the same rebuttable presumption of equitable tolling applicable to suits against private defendants should also apply to suits against the United States,” in this case the Federal Circuit held 6-6 that veterans are precluded from pursuing equitable tolling of § 5110(b)(1)’s one-year deadline. The Supreme Court granted review to consider the following questions:

  1. “Does Irwin’s rebuttable presumption of equitable tolling apply to the one-year statutory deadline in 38 U.S.C. § 5110(b)(1) for seeking retroactive disability benefits, and, if so, has the Government rebutted that presumption?”
  2. “If 38 U.S.C. § 5110(b)(1) is amenable to equitable tolling, should this case be remanded so the agency can consider the particular facts and circumstances in the first instance?”

This is our argument preview. 

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Opinions / Panel Activity

Opinion Summary – Skarr v. McDonough

Earlier this month, the Federal Circuit issued its opinion in Skarr v. McDonough, a case we have been following because it attracted two amicus briefs. In this case, after being diagnosed with leukopenia Skarr filed a claim with the Department of Veterans Affairs for service-connected benefits. The Board of Veterans’ Appeals denied Skarr’s claim, and Skarr appealed to the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. That court certified a class including Skarr and similarly situated veterans. The Secretary of Veterans Affairs appealed the class certification to the Federal Circuit, asserting the Veterans Court lacked authority to certify the class. Skarr cross-appealed the Veterans Court’s definition of the class. In an opinion authored by Judge Hughes and joined by Judge Newman and Chief Judge Moore, this month the Federal Circuit vacated the Veterans Court’s class certification and denied Skarr’s cross-appeal. This is our opinion summary.

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Argument Preview / En Banc Activity

Argument Preview – Rudisill v. McDonough

Next week, in an en banc session, the Federal Circuit will hear arguments in Rudisill v. McDonough, a veterans case. The court will consider the question of a veteran’s statutory entitlement to education benefits under the Montgomery GI Bill and the Post-9/11 GI Bill. In particular, the court will consider two related questions: (1) “for a veteran who qualifies for the Montgomery GI Bill and the Post-9/11 GI Bill under a separate period of qualifying service, what is the veteran’s statutory entitlement to education benefits;” and (2) “what is the relation between the 48-month entitlement in 38 U.S.C. § 3695(a), and the 36-month entitlement in § 3327(d)(2), as applied to veterans such as Mr. Rudisill with two or more periods of qualifying military service?” This is our argument preview.

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Petitions / Supreme Court Activity

Recent Supreme Court Activity

Here is an update on recent activity at the Supreme Court in cases decided by the Federal Circuit. With respect to granted cases, there is no new activity to report since our last update. With respect to petitions, two new petitions were filed with the Court in a veterans case and a case raising a question concerning judicial disqualification; a brief in opposition was submitted in another veterans case addressing the standard of proof governing rejection of disability claims; the government waived its right to respond in a Merit Systems Protection Board case; and one reply brief was submitted in a patent case raising a question related to patent eligibility. Here are the details.

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Panel Activity

Update on Important Panel Activity

Here is this month’s update on activity in cases pending before panels of the Federal Circuit where the cases involve at least one amicus brief. We keep track of these cases in the “Other Cases” section of our blog. Today, with respect to these cases we highlight a new patent case concerning whether the institution process used by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board comports with due process, an argument recap in a patent case addressing standing, and an opinion in a veterans case relating to class certification. Here are the details.

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Opinions

Opinions & Orders – September 16, 2022

Late yesterday and this morning, the Federal Circuit released four nonprecedential orders. One vacates an order issued by the Court of Federal Claims and remands the case in view of a recent decision of the Supreme Court related to the constitutionality of a fee increase; one grants an unopposed motion to remand a case to the Patent Trial and Appeal Board based on an admission by the Director of the Patent and Trademark Office of error by the Board; one grants a joint motion to dismiss an appeal; and one dismisses an appeal for failure to prosecute. Here is the text from the orders and links to the dismissals.

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Opinions

Opinions & Orders – September 9, 2022

This morning the Federal Circuit 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 patent case appealed from the Patent Trial and Appeal Board. The Federal Circuit also released a Rule 36 judgment. Here are the introductions to the opinions and a link to the Rule 36 judgment.

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Opinions

Opinions & Orders – September 8, 2022

This morning the Federal Circuit released three precedential opinions. The first comes in a patent case appealed from the Eastern District of Virginia; the second comes in a trade case appealed from the Court of International Trade; and the third comes in a veterans case appealed from the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. Notably, in the trade case, Judge Newman dissented. The Federal Circuit also released three nonprecedential opinions in patent cases appealed from the Court of Federal Claims, the District of South Carolina, and the Patent Trial and Appeal Board, respectively. Finally, the Federal Circuit released a nonprecedential order dismissing an appeal for failure to prosecute and a Rule 36 judgment. Here are the introductions to the opinions, a link to the dismissal, and a link to the Rule 36 judgment.

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Opinions

Opinions & Orders – September 7, 2022

This morning the Federal Circuit released a precedential opinion in a patent case appealed from the District of Delaware. In its opinion, the Federal Circuit affirmed the district court’s dismissal of a patent infringement complaint under the duplicative-litigation doctrine. The Federal Circuit also released three nonprecedential opinions. The first and second opinions come in veterans cases appealed from the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims; the third comes in an employment case appealed from the Merit Systems Protection Board. Here are the introductions to the opinions.

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