Articles Posted in U.S. Federal Circuit Court of Appeals

by
Sharp, a federal supply contractor, submitted a termination compensation claim to the Department of the Army contracting officer, and later brought a Contracts Dispute Act claim before the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals, claiming that, because the Army failed to exercise the entirety of the last option year under a delivery order, Sharp was entitled to premature discontinuance fees under its General Services Administration schedule contract. The ASBCA dismissed for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction, concluding that the Federal Acquisition Regulation, does not permit ordering agency contracting officers to decide disputes pertaining to schedule contracts. The Federal Circuit affirmed. Under FAR 8.406-6, only the GSA contracting office may resolve disputes that, in whole or in part, involve interpretation of disputed schedule contract provisions. View "Sharp Elec. Corp. v. McHugh" on Justia Law

by
Walker served in the U.S. Army Air Force, 1943 to 1945, as a four-engine airplane pilot and flight instructor. The VA Regional Office denied his 2007 disability claim for bilateral hearing loss. Walker appealed to the Board of Veterans Appeals, including sworn statements from his son and wife that his hearing loss began in service and continued throughout his life. Walker was examined by a VA audiologist. Walker’s service medical records were not available due to a fire. The audiologist concluded that the hearing loss was “less likely as not caused primarily by military service as a pilot,” that age could not be excluded as the primary etiology, and that Walker was exposed to recreational noise by hunting game without use of hearing protection. The Board concluded that Walker failed under the three-element test to establish service connection for his hearing loss. The Federal Circuit affirmed. View "Walker v. Shinseki" on Justia Law

by
Viegas served in the U.S. Army, 1965-1967. After leaving the service, he was injured in a diving accident, resulting in “incomplete” quadriplegia. In 2004, Viegas participated in a prescribed aquatic therapy session at a VA medical center. He used a restroom in the VA facility. The grab bar he used to lift himself into his wheelchair came loose from the wall and he fell to the ground. As a result of the fall, Viegas sustained injuries to his upper and lower extremities. Viegas’ medical condition deteriorated after his fall. Prior to his fall, Viegas could sometimes walk with a walker, but since the accident he can only stand with assistance. Viegas sought disability benefits under 38 U.S.C. 1151. A VA regional office denied the claim. The board affirmed, stating that such benefits are available only if additional disability results from injury that was part of the natural sequence of cause and effect flowing directly from the actual provision of hospital care, medical or surgical treatment, or examination furnished by the VA and such additional disability was directly caused by that VA activity. The Veterans Court affirmed. The Federal Circuit reversed, holding that the Veterans Court misinterpreted the causation requirement. View "Viegas v. Shinseki" on Justia Law

by
The court consolidated appeals by veterans claiming that their current disabilities are connected to injuries sustained during military service. In both cases, the veterans’ medical records contained at least one physician’s report opining that the claimed disabilities were service-connected and at least one ambiguous or inconclusive report declining to confirm such a nexus. The Department of Veterans Affairs relied on inconclusive opinions in denying the veterans entitlement to service-connected disability benefits, and the Board of Veterans’ Appeals affirmed. Finding that the medical examination did not comply with the Board’s instructions and that the Board failed to explain its reasons and bases for denying service connection, the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims remanded. The Federal Circuit affirmed that remand, rather than reversal, was appropriate. View "Deloach v. Shinseki" on Justia Law

by
Indian Harbor sought reimbursement under the National Defense Authorization Act of 1993, 106 Stat. 2315, 2371; 107 Stat. 1547, 1745 for environmental cleanup costs associated with the development of the former Marine Corps Air Station Tustin military base in southern California. The Court of Federal Claims determined that Indian Harbor failed to identify a “claim for personal injury or property” that triggered the government’s duty to indemnify and dismissed. The Federal Circuit reversed, relying on the purposes of the Act, to encourage cleanup and redevelopment of former military installations. View "Indian Harbor Ins. v. United States" on Justia Law

by
Harris served on active duty in the U.S. Army from 1963 to 1966 and from 1967 to 1970. In 1985, he had a VA Medical Center examination; an “Agent Orange” form associated with that examination indicates that Harris complained of “skin rashes on trunk and arms.” Another form, listing his service in Vietnam, is an “Application for Medical Benefits,” stated that it “will be used to determine your eligibility for medical benefits.” In 2002, Harris, pro se, sought service-connected disability compensation for contact dermatitis and latex allergy. The DVA regional office ultimately granted the claims and assigned an effective date of 2002. Harris sought an effective date of 1985. The Board held that the report of the Agent Orange Registry examination did not constitute a claim. The Veterans Court affirmed The Federal Circuit vacated, stating that pro se filings must be read liberally; the Veterans Court did not apply the proper legal standard for determining whether the Board had correctly determined the earliest applicable date for the claim. View "Harris v. Shinseki" on Justia Law

by
A VA regional office awarded King disability compensation for residuals of a left knee surgery and right knee arthritis. King later sought disability compensation for disabilities of the back and hips on a direct basis and as secondary to his service-connected knee disabilities. Records revealed no treatment for back or hip problems during King's active duty service 1973-1974. King underwent a VA spine examination in 2000. The examiner diagnosed minimal degenerative joint disease of both hips and lumbosacral spine, related to age. A private physician disagreed. In 2007, the Board of Veterans denied King's appeal. The Veterans Court remanded. Additional evidence was developed and, in 2008, the Board obtained an opinion from a Veterans Hospital Administration orthopedist that it was not likely that King’s back and bilateral hip disabilities were directly caused or permanently worsened by the service-connected knee disabilities. The Board and Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims affirmed the denial. The Federal Circuit affirmed, rejecting an argument that the Veterans Court erred by discounting lay testimony offered by King and his wife. The Veterans Court did not fail to consider the proffered lay evidence, so King’s appeal was merely a challenge to the weight given his evidence. View "King v. Shinseki" on Justia Law

by
Youngman, fiduciary for deceased veteran Richardson, sought payment of accrued benefits of about $350,000 that had been awarded to Richardson before his death. Payment had been delayed while the Kansas state courts were accrediting Youngman as successor fiduciary for Richardson, who had been adjudged incompetent several years earlier. Richardson died after the accreditation but before payment. The VA denied payment. The Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims affirmed. Periodic monetary benefits to which an individual was entitled at death are to be paid to the veteran's spouse, children, or dependent parents and, in “all other cases, only so much of the accrued benefits may be paid as may be necessary to reimburse the person who bore the expense of last sickness and burial” 38 U.S.C.5121(a). Richardson had only cousins as heirs. The Federal Circuit affirmed. While 38 U.S.C. 5502 allows a fiduciary to stand in the shoes of a veteran, it does not grant the fiduciary rights beyond those of the veteran himself. Richardson died without any heirs in the categories qualifying under 5121, so his unpaid benefits died with him. View "Youngman v. Shinseki" on Justia Law

by
The Army solicited proposals for aerial target flight operations and maintenance services. Kratos provided these services under a predecessor contract. The solicitation listed three evaluation factors: Technical/Management; Past Performance; and Price/Cost to be rated as “outstanding,” “satisfactory,” “marginal,” or “unsatisfactory.” The contract was subject to the Service Contract Act of 1965, under which the Federal Acquisition Regulation requires that “successor contractors … in the same locality must pay wages and fringe benefits … at least equal to those contained in any bona fide collective bargaining agreement … under the predecessor contract.” The Army received three proposals, including the offers from SA-TECH and Kratos. After review, the Technical Evaluation Committee announced a Final Evaluation Report, noting potential difficulties for SA-TECH under the Labor sub-factor, but rating SA-TECH as “outstanding” for all factors. Kratos also received “outstanding” ratings. The Source Selection Authority concluded that SA-TECH offered the best value for the government. Kratos filed a protest with the Government Accountability Office. SA-TECH subsequently protested the Army’s decision to engage in corrective action instead of allowing SA-TECH’s award to stand. The Claims Court denied the Army’s motion to dismiss and found the Army’s actions unreasonable and contrary to law. The Federal Circuit affirmed. View "Sys. Application & Tech., Inc. v. United States" on Justia Law

by
Hillyard suffered a head injury and was hospitalized for two weeks while serving in the U.S. Army. Hillyard filed a single claim for service connection for a mental condition, which he attributed to his in-service head injury. The Veterans Administration denied his claim and the Board affirmed and subsequently denied Hillyard’s request for revision. The Veterans Court affirmed. Hillyard later filed a second request for revision alleging clear and unmistakable error (CUE) by the Board in failing to consider and apply 38 U.S.C. 105(a) and 1111, a different CUE allegation from the one he made in his first request. The Board dismissed the second request for revision with prejudice, concluding 38 C.F.R. 20.1409(c) permitted only one request for revision to be filed. The Veterans Court affirmed. The Federal Circuit affirmed. The interpretation of Rule 1409(c) proffered by the VA is consistent with the language of the regulation and is in harmony with the VA’s description of the regulation in its notice of rule-making. View "Hillyard v. Shinseki" on Justia Law