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United States Court of Federal Claims

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

United States Court of Federal Claims
(Fed. Cl.)
Seal of the United States Court of Federal Claims.svg
Location Howard T. Markey National Courts Building
Appeals to Federal Circuit
Established 1855
Authority Article I tribunal
Created by Federal Courts Improvement Act
28 U.S.C. §§ 14911509
Composition method Presidential nomination
with Senate advice and consent
Judges 16
Judge term length 15 years
Chief Judge Margaret M. Sweeney
www.uscfc.uscourts.gov

The United States Court of Federal Claims (in case citations, Fed. Cl. or C.F.C.) is a United States federal court that hears monetary claims against the U.S. government. It is the direct successor to the United States Court of Claims, which was founded in 1855, and is therefore a revised version of one of the oldest federal courts in the country.

The jurisdiction of the United States Court of Federal Claims is currently codified in 28 U.S.C. § 1491. The court is established pursuant to Congress's authority under Article One of the United States Constitution. Unlike judges of courts established under Article Three of the United States Constitution, judges on the Court of Federal Claims do not have life tenure (see Article I and Article III tribunals). Instead they serve for 15-year terms[1] and are eligible for reappointment. The President appoints the judges of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims with the Senate's advice and consent.[2] The judges are removable by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit for "incompetency, misconduct, neglect of duty, engaging in the practice of law, or physical or mental disability." [3]

The courthouse of the Court of Federal Claims is situated in the Howard T. Markey National Courts Building (on Madison Place across from the White House) in Washington, D.C.

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Transcription

>> IN WASHINGTON, D.C., WITHIN THE U.S. COURT OF FEDERAL CLAIMS, THE OFFICE OF SPECIAL MASTERS HEARS AND DECIDES CASES BROUGHT BY INDIVIDUALS WHO CLAIM INJURY OR DEATH OF A FAMILY MEMBER FROM RECEIVING CERTAIN ROUTINELY RECOMMENDED CHILDHOOD VACCINES. PART OF THE NATIONAL CHILDHOOD VACCINE INJURY ACT OF 1986... >> IT IS A NO-FAULT COMPENSATION PROGRAM DESIGNED TO ENCOURAGE VACCINATION, ENCOURAGE VACCINE MANUFACTURERS TO CONTINUE MAKING VACCINES, AND TO COMPENSATE THE SMALL BUT SIGNIFICANT NUMBER OF PEOPLE WHO ARE INJURED BY VACCINE THEY RECEIVE. >> THE COURT'S JURISDICTION IS LIMITED TO VACCINES THAT ARE RECOMMENDED FOR ROUTINE ADMINISTRATION TO CHILDREN, THOUGH FILING A CLAIM IS NOT LIMITED TO CHILDREN, AND MOST CLAIMANTS ARE ADULTS. >> THEY'RE HARD CASES TO DEAL WITH BECAUSE YOU ARE DEALING WITH PEOPLE WHO ALMOST 100% OF THE TIME ARE UNDENIABLY INJURED. IT'S THE ISSUE IS JUST WHAT CAUSED THAT INJURY. WE'RE TRYING TO DEAL WITH VERY COMPLEX SCIENTIFIC QUESTIONS. >> WHEN INITIALLY CREATED BY THE 1986 ACT, SPECIAL MASTERS GAVE RECOMMENDATIONS TO THE FEDERAL DISTRICT COURT WHERE THE VACCINE INJURY CLAIM WAS FILED. >> THE ORIGINAL ACT HAD THE SPECIAL MASTERS WRITING WHAT YOU MIGHT CALL ADVISORY OPINIONS. THAT IS, THEY WOULD HAVE A HEARING, THEY WOULD FIND FACTS, THEY WOULD MAKE CONCLUSIONS. AND THE PROCESS OF WRITING RECOMMENDATIONS AND FINDINGS WAS A BIT UNWIELDY. WHEN CONGRESS DECIDED TO CHANGE THE ACT, WE REALLY NEEDED A COURT WITH NATIONWIDE JURISDICTION. AND THERE AREN'T MANY COURTS WITH NATIONWIDE JURISDICTION, THE COURT OF FEDERAL CLAIMS BEING ONE. IT MADE SENSE TO PUT US IN WITH THE COURT OF FEDERAL CLAIMS. >> THE U.S. COURT OF FEDERAL CLAIMS HAS A LONG HISTORY. IN 1855, CONGRESS ESTABLISHED THE COURT'S PRECURSOR, CALLED THE COURT OF CLAIMS. >> THE PRIMARY MOTIVATION WAS TO ADDRESS CLAIMS BROUGHT BY VETERANS OF THE MEXICAN/AMERICAN WAR. PRIOR TO THE FORMATION OF THE COURT, PETITIONS FOR REDRESS WERE SUBMITTED TO CONGRESS AND THE SYSTEM BECAME UNWIELDY. >> FOR MORE THAN A CENTURY, THE COURT AND ITS JURISDICTION EVOLVED AS CIRCUMSTANCES CHANGED. IN 1982, THE FEDERAL COURTS IMPROVEMENT ACT RE-NAMED IT THE COURT OF FEDERAL CLAIMS. SPECIAL MASTERS WERE MADE PART OF THE COURT IN 1987, AND THE OFFICE OF SPECIAL MASTERS IN 1989. >> SO, WHEN THE CHANGE WAS MADE TO PUT US IN THE COURT OF FEDERAL CLAIMS, THEY JUST KEPT THE TITLE. HERE, WE FUNCTION MUCH MORE LIKE TRIAL JUDGES. >> BECAUSE THE VACCINE INJURY PROGRAM WAS CREATED BY FEDERAL LAW, THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES IS ALWAYS THE DEFENDANT--CALLED THE RESPONDENT--IN THESE CASES. THE PROCESS BEGINS WHEN A PETITION IS FILED. IT'S RECEIVED BY THE CLERK'S OFFICE OF THE COURT. >> THIS MEANS THAT THE CLERKS' OFFICE PROVIDES SERVICES, ADMINISTRATIVE, I.T., OPERATIONS SUPPORT OF CLERKS' OFFICES, TO THE OFFICE OF SPECIAL MASTERS, IN THE SAME MANNER THAT WE DO FOR OUR JUDGES. >> CASES USUALLY ARE RANDOMLY ASSIGNED TO A SPECIAL MASTER, THOUGH CHIEF SPECIAL MASTER VOWELL HAS AUTHORITY TO CONSOLIDATE AND ASSIGN CASES AS MAY BE NEEDED. >> BECAUSE OF THE OVERWHELMING NUMBER OF NEW CASES THAT HAVE BEEN FILED EACH YEAR, I'VE ORGANIZED THE STAFF ATTORNEYS INTO A SPECIAL PROCESSING UNIT. THAT FREES UP MY COLLEAGUES FROM SOME OF THE ROUTINE DAY-TO-DAY CASE MANAGEMENT RESPONSIBILITIES AND ALLOW THEM TO FOCUS MORE ON THE 20% OF CASES THAT DON'T SETTLE AND THE NUMBER OF CASES THAT TAKE MORE SPECIAL MANAGEMENT TO GET THEM TO SETTLE. ABOUT 70% TO 80% OF THE CASES THAT ARE FILED IN THE PROGRAM ULTIMATELY SETTLE. ANOTHER 10%, MAYBE A LITTLE HIGHER, ARE DISMISSED FOR SOME DEFECT IN THE PETITION, STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS PROBLEMS, YOU CAN'T PROVE YOU GOT THE VACCINATION, CAN'T FIND AN EXPERT TO SUPPORT THE CLAIM. AND THE OTHER 20% ARE PROBABLY LITIGATED IN SOME MEASURE, EITHER AT THE FACT LEVEL OR AT THE ENTITLEMENT LEVEL. >> THAT MEANS THERE'S A HEARING. >> IN MANY RESPECTS THEY LOOK LIKE A TRIAL. WE USE THE TERM HEARING BECAUSE WE DON'T APPLY THE RULES OF EVIDENCE DIRECTLY. OUR HEARINGS ARE ALL CLOSED TO THE PUBLIC. AND THAT'S STATUTORY, THAT INFORMATION SUBMITTED BY A PARTY ON A CASE IS NOT OPEN TO THE PUBLIC. WITNESSES COME, THEY TAKE THE WITNESS STAND, THEY TESTIFY. THEIR QUALIFICATIONS ARE REVIEWED IF THEY'RE AN EXPERT; IF THEY'RE A FACT WITNESS, WE GO OVER THEIR FACT TESTIMONY. CROSS EXAMINATION IS NOT REQUIRED BUT ROUTINELY IS AUTHORIZED THE OTHER PARTY. THE SPECIAL MASTER MAY OR MAY NOT HAVE A LOT OF QUESTIONS FOR THE WITNESSES. AND AT THE CONCLUSION OF THE CASE, WE MAY OR MAY NOT HAVE POST-HEARING BRIEFS. WE ALMOST ALWAYS HAVE PRE-HEARING BRIEFS TO CLARIFY WHAT ISSUES ARE IN DISPUTE. >> TO AID PETITIONERS AND THE COURT, CONGRESS CREATED THE VACCINE INJURY TABLE. IT LISTS COVERED VACCINES, INJURIES THAT ARE SCIENTIFICALLY OR BY POLICY ASSOCIATED WITH THAT VACCINE, AND THE TIME PERIOD IN WHICH AN INJURY HAD TO HAVE APPEARED. WHILE THE COURT OF FEDERAL CLAIMS AND ITS OFFICE OF SPECIAL MASTERS IS PHYSICALLY BASED IN WASHINGTON, D.C. ... >> WE HAVE NATIONAL JURISDICTION. OUR CASES ALLOW US TO TRAVEL AND SIT TO HEAR PROCEEDINGS THROUGHOUT THE COUNTRY. SO, THERE'S NO REGIONAL LIMITATION TO WHERE THE COURT SITS. >> WE TRAVEL FOR THE CONVENIENCE OF THE PARTIES. WE RECOGNIZE THAT MANY OF OUR PETITIONERS HAVE BEEN GRAVELY INJURED. WHETHER A VACCINE IS RESPONSIBLE IS THE ISSUE WE HAVE TO DECIDE. >> DISTRICT COURTS ARE VERY IMPORTANT TO THE COURT OF FEDERAL CLAIMS BECAUSE THE COURT OF FEDERAL CLAIMS SITS AND HEARS ITS PROCEEDINGS NATIONALLY, AND RELIES ON DISTRICT COURTS TO HOST PROCEEDINGS AND TO CONDUCT THEIR PROCEEDINGS IN DISTRICT COURT COURTROOMS. >> WHEN AN ISSUE IN DISPUTE ISN'T CLARIFIED BY THE MEDICAL RECORD, FACT HEARINGS ARE HELD. >> IT ALSO GIVES PEOPLE AN OPPORTUNITY TO HAVE THEIR CASE HEARD. FACT HEARINGS ARE FREQUENTLY DONE AT THE LOCATION WHERE THE PETITIONERS RESIDE. WE ALSO HAVE ENTITLEMENT HEARINGS WHERE EXPERTS COME IN AND TESTIFY, FOR THE MOST PART. AND THOSE MAY BE CONDUCTED AGAIN WHERE THE PETITIONER RESIDES, OR WHERE IT'S MOST CONVENIENT TO GET THE EXPERTS TOGETHER DEPENDING ON THE NATURE OF THEIR SCHEDULES, OR THEY MAY BE CONDUCTED HERE. WE SOMETIMES HAVE HAD PROBLEMS MUCH MORE RECENTLY WITH SEQUESTRATION IN PARTICULAR, WHERE SOME OF OUR BUDGET WAS SEQUESTERED. WE HAVE ONLY A COUPLE OF AREAS OF FLEXIBILITY IN OUR BUDGET AND ONE IS THAT TRAVEL EXPENSE, SO, WE MAKE EXTENSIVE USE OF VIDEO CONFERENCING FACILITIES. SO, PETITIONERS SOMETIMES APPEAR BY VIDEO CONFERENCE FROM THEIR ATTORNEYS' CONFERENCE ROOMS, OR ANOTHER CONFERENCE FACILITY. BUT MORE OFTEN IT'S THE EXPERTS WHO APPEAR BY VIDEO CONFERENCING. >> ...AND NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH? >> I WILL. >> OK, COUNSELOR, YOU MAY PROCEED. >> DR. JACKSON, IN YOUR EXPERT REPORT REGARDING INJURY TO PETITIONER... >> THE SPECIAL MASTERS ARE APPOINTED BY A MAJORITY VOTE OF THE COURT OF FEDERAL CLAIMS' JUDGES. >> JUDGES OF THE COURT OF FEDERAL CLAIMS ARE NOMINATED BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, CONFIRMED BY THE UNITED STATES SENATE, AND APPOINTED FOR TERMS OF 15 YEARS. >> THE SPECIAL MASTERS SERVE 4-YEAR TERMS, WITH PROVISIONS FOR REAPPOINTMENT. THERE ARE 8 OF THEM. >> IT IS A VERY SCIENTIFICALLY INTENSE, MEDICALLY INTENSE PROGRAM. AND SPECIAL MASTERS HAVE TO DEVELOP AN EXPERTISE IN DIVERSE FIELDS, IMMUNOLOGY, NEUROLOGY, ORTHOPEDICS, RHEUMATOLOGY, PEDIATRICS. >> THE SECONDARY RELATIONSHIP OTHER THAN APPOINTING THE SPECIAL MASTERS, THAT THE JUDGES HAVE WITH SPECIAL MASTERS, IS TO REVIEW THEIR WORK. IF SPECIAL MASTERS ISSUE DECISIONS AND THOSE DECISIONS ARE NOT CHALLENGED BY EITHER PARTY, THEY BECOME FINAL AND ENFORCEABLE DECISIONS. IF EITHER PARTY, HOWEVER, IS DISSATISFIED, EITHER THE PLAINTIFF OR THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, WHO IS ALWAYS THE DEFENDANT IN A VACCINE CASE, IS DISSATISFIED WITH A RULING, THE CLAIM MAY BE BROUGHT TO THE COURT OF FEDERAL CLAIMS AND THE COURT OF FEDERAL CLAIMS SITS IN THE POSITION OF A REVIEWING COURT FOR THE OFFICE OF SPECIAL MASTERS. >> FUNDING TO PAY VACCINE INJURY CLAIMS COMES FROM A 75-CENT EXCISE TAX ON EACH DOSE SOLD OF A VACCINE RECOMMENDED FOR ADMINISTRATION TO CHILDREN. MANUFACTURERS COLLECT THE TAX AND DEPOSIT IT INTO A TRUST FUND. >> BECAUSE THE OFFICE OF SPECIAL MASTERS IS SUPPORTED FINANCIALLY BY THE VACCINE TRUST FUND, WE HAVE TO ACTUALLY DO A SEPARATE APPROPRIATIONS PROCESS FOR THEM. AND OUR CLERKS' OFFICE IS VERY ENGAGED IN THAT PROCESS. >> ONLY A SMALL PORTION OF THE FUND IS USED TO SUPPORT THE COURT. PRIMARILY THE TRUST FUND PAYS JUDGMENTS IN FAVOR OF PETITIONERS. IN FISCAL YEARS 2011, 12, AND 13, THE COURT RENDERED JUDGMENTS FOR VACCINE INJURY PETITIONERS OF ABOUT $630 MILLION. IN THAT SAME TIME PERIOD, THE COURT RECEIVED ABOUT 400 TO 500 NEW VACCINE INJURY FILINGS EACH YEAR. >> ONE OF THE INTERESTING ASPECTS OF OUR PROGRAM IS WE ARE THE ONLY STATUTE THAT I AM AWARE OF WHERE LOSING LITIGANTS, YOU FILE A VACCINE INJURY CLAIM, AND YOU LOSE, THEIR ATTORNEYS, AND THEIR FEES AND COSTS AND THEIR OWN COSTS ASSOCIATED WITH A PETITION ARE COMPENSABLE. THEY'RE PAID FOR OUT OF THE TRUST FUND. CONGRESS DID THIS DELIBERATELY BECAUSE THEY RECOGNIZED THAT THIS WAS SUCH A NEW AND UNIQUE AREA OF LAW, THEY WANTED PETITIONERS TO HAVE THE BENEFIT OF COUNSEL TO HELP THEM. >> DESPITE THAT PROVISION, THE COURT KNOWS THAT SOME PETITIONERS WILL FILE ON THEIR OWN WITHOUT THE HELP OF AN ATTORNEY OR WILL HIRE AN ATTORNEY WITH NO EXPERIENCE IN VACCINE INJURY CASES. >> WE RECOGNIZE THAT WE ARE NOT THE USUAL SLIP AND FALL, OR MOTOR VEHICLE ACCIDENT, EVEN THE USUAL MEDICAL MALPRACTICE CLAIM. SO, WE HAVE A WEBSITE THAT CONTAINS SAMPLE FILINGS. IT CONTAINS THE GUIDELINES FOR PRACTICE. WE ALSO HAVE OUR BAR REFERRAL LIST THERE. SO, IF YOU'RE LOOKING FOR AN ATTORNEY IN ARKANSAS, FOR EXAMPLE, AND YOU'RE IN ARKANSAS, YOU CAN FIND AN ARKANSAS ATTORNEY WHO IS WILLING TO TAKE VACCINE CASES. >> IN OUR SYSTEM OF LAW, A TORT IS A CIVIL WRONG FOR WHICH DAMAGES CAN BE COLLECTED. ONE SIDE MUST PROVE THE OTHER AT FAULT. >> THE VACCINE INJURY COMPENSATION PROGRAM HAS BEEN AN EXPERIMENT IN TORT REFORM. I THINK IT'S BEEN A HIGHLY SUCCESSFUL EXPERIMENT. PETITIONERS HAVE BEEN PAID OVER A BILLION DOLLARS FROM THE COMPENSATION TRUST FUND FOR VACCINE INJURIES THAT I DON'T THINK WOULD HAVE BEEN COMPENSABLE IN ANY OTHER COURT SYSTEM IN THE COUNTRY BECAUSE WE'VE REMOVED THE ISSUE OF FAULT OR TRADITIONAL TORT CAUSE OF ACTION FROM THIS PROGRAM.

Contents

History

The court traces its origins directly back to 1855, when Congress established the United States Court of Claims to provide for the determination of private claims against the United States government. The legislation was signed into law on February 24, 1855, by President Franklin Pierce. Throughout its 160-year history, although it has undergone notable changes in name, size, scope of jurisdiction, and procedures, its purpose has remained the same: in this court the federal government stands as the defendant and may be sued by citizens seeking monetary redress. For this reason, the court has been referred to as the "keeper of the nation's conscience" and "the People's Court."

As originally in 1855, the court lacked the essential judicial power to render final judgments. This oversight was resolved by legislation passed in 1866, in response to President Abraham Lincoln's insistence in his Annual Message to Congress in 1861 that, "It is as much the duty of Government to render prompt justice against itself, in favor of citizens, as it is to administer the same, between private individuals."

In 1887, Congress passed the Tucker Act, which significantly expanded the court's jurisdiction to include all claims against the government except tort, equitable, and admiralty claims. The court thus today has nationwide jurisdiction over most suits for monetary claims against the government and sits, without a jury, to determine issues of law and fact. The general jurisdiction of the court, described in 28 U.S.C. § 1491,[4] is over claims for just compensation for the taking of private property, refund of federal taxes, military and civilian pay and allowances, and damages for breaches of contracts with the government. The court also possesses jurisdiction over claims for patent and copyright infringement against the United States, as well as over certain suits by Indian tribes.

Additionally, the court has jurisdiction to hear both pre-award and post-award bid protest suits by unsuccessful bidders on government contracts.

A unique aspect of the court's jurisdiction throughout its history has been the authority to act on congressional references of legislative proposals for compensation of individual claims. As eventually codified in 28 U.S.C. § 1492,[5] either House of Congress may refer a bill to the Chief Judge of the court for an investigation and a report to Congress. A judge of the court is assigned to act as the hearing officer and preside over the judicial proceedings. Then a three-judge review panel submits a report to Congress for its consideration and disposition of such claims for compensation.

Befitting its unique role, the court has been located throughout its history in Washington, DC, in the vicinity of the White House or in the U.S. Capitol Building. It first met in May 1855 at Willard's Hotel. In July of that year, it moved into the Capitol. After briefly using the Supreme Court's chamber in the basement of the Capitol, it then acquired its own rooms there. In 1879, the court obtained space on the ground floor of the Freedman's Bank Building, which stood at the place now occupied by the Treasury Annex, adjacent to the southeast corner of Lafayette Park. Two decades later, in 1899, the court moved to the building formerly occupied by William Corcoran's art collection across Lafayette Park at the intersection of 17th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue.

It remained there for 65 years. This building was designed by, and is presently named for, the architect James Renwick, who also designed the Smithsonian Institution's Castle on the National Mall and St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City. When the facilities there were deemed inadequate by the mid- 1950s, the court asked Congress for a new location. Eventually, the site at 717 Madison Place, NW, was chosen and the court moved to its present home on August 1, 1967.

The court's original composition of three judges was expanded to five in 1863. They would consider evidence proffered by claimants and weigh testimony taken by permanent or special commissioners employed by the court, who were dispersed across the United States. One of the first commissioners was Benjamin Harrison of Indiana, who would later become President.[6] If oral argument was requested, the five judges would hear the case en banc. Appeal to the Supreme Court was by right if the amount in dispute was over $3,000. The growth in government caused by and coinciding with World War I made the system unworkable, as the number of filed cases increased considerably. In 1925, legislation enacted by Congress at the request of the court created a separate trial division of seven commissioners and elevated the five judges to an appellate role. Initially, the trial commissioners would function as special masters in chancery and conduct formal proceedings either at the court's home in Washington, DC, or elsewhere in the United States in a court facility amenable to the parties. The trial procedures evolved to resemble a non-jury civil trial in district court.

In 1948, the commissioners were authorized to make recommendations for conclusions of law. The number of commissioners was increased in 1953 to 15. In 1966, Congress provided that there would be seven appellate judges to be appointed by the President with life tenure. In 1973, the title of the commissioners was changed to trial judge and by 1977, the Court of Claims had 16 trial judges who conducted trials of cases in the first instance. Judgments, which are required to be paid out of appropriations by Congress, were originally paid by individual appropriations passed separately or as part of other appropriations bills. In 1955, Congress provided for a standing appropriation for judgments of $100,000 or less. Finally, in 1977, Congress created a permanent, indefinite appropriation for all judgments awarded by the court.

The Federal Courts Improvement Act of 1982 created the modern court.[7] While the appellate division of the Court of Claims was combined with the United States Court of Customs and Patent Appeals to comprise the new United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, the trial division of the Court of Claims became the United States Claims Court (and in 1992, the name was changed to the United States Court of Federal Claims).[8] Appeals from the Court of Federal Claims are taken to the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit and a judgment there is conclusive unless reviewed by the Supreme Court on writ of certiorari. Decisions of the Court of Claims are binding precedent on both its appellate and trial court successors.

The court as now constituted consists of 16 judges, appointed by the President and subject to confirmation by the U.S. Senate for terms of 15 years. In addition, judges who have completed their statutory terms of office are authorized to continue to take cases as senior judges of the court. This ongoing tenure serves as a mechanism to ensure judicial impartiality and independence.

In recent years, the court's docket has been increasingly characterized by complex, high-dollar demands, and high-profile cases in such areas as, for example, the savings and loan crisis of the 1980s, the World War II internment of Japanese-Americans, and the federal repository of civilian spent nuclear fuel.

Nevertheless, despite the nature of the claim, the notability of the claimant, or the amount in dispute, the Court of Federal Claims acts as a clearing house when the government must settle up with those it has legally wronged. As observed by former Chief Judge Loren A. Smith, the court is the institutional scale that weighs the government's actions against the standard measure of the law and helps make concrete the spirit of the First Amendment's guarantee of the right "to petition the Government for redress of grievances."[9]

The National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 gave the court the authority to create an Office of Special Masters to receive and hear certain vaccine injury cases, and the jurisdiction to review those cases.[10] This vaccine injury jurisdiction has been enlarged in recent years to encompass claims stemming from a number of additional vaccines, including, for example, varicella, hepatitis B, and influenza.

Though a provision of the Administrative Dispute Resolution Act of 1996 gave the Court of Federal Claims and U.S. districts courts concurrent jurisdiction over post-award protests, subsequent legislation provided that, as of January 2001, that the United States Court of Federal Claims would be the exclusive judicial forum for post-award bid protest litigation.

In 2006, the court rendered judgments in more than 900 cases and awarded $1.8 billion in damages.

Jurisdiction

The court has special jurisdiction, spelled out in 28 U.S.C. § 1491: it hears claims for monetary damages[11] that arise from the United States Constitution, federal statutes, executive regulations, or an express or implied in fact contract with the United States Government, most notably under the Tucker Act. The court has concurrent jurisdiction with U.S. district courts, when the claim is for less than $10,000, by the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 1346. Claims have a statute of limitations of six years from the time the claim first accrues.[12] This limitation is strictly construed by the court.

The court has concurrent jurisdiction involving contracts with the federal government, where a contractor has the option of choosing between filing suit with the court or with the agency Board of Contract Appeals. The general rule is that a contractor may either 1) file suit within 90 days with the agency Board of Contract Appeals or 2) file suit within one year with the court. A contractor, however, must choose which forum in which to file; a contractor cannot file suit with both the agency Board and with the court. (However, in a case where a contractor has filed with the Board, and the Government challenges the timeliness of the filing — the 90-day limit is statutory and cannot be extended — the contractor can file with the court within the one-year period to protect its claims.)

Unlike district courts, which generally only have jurisdiction over disputes in their geographic district, the CFC has jurisdiction over disputes wherever they occur in the country. To accommodate litigants, judges on the court may hold trials at local courthouses near where the disputes arise.[13]

All trials at the court are bench trials, without juries. Because the court only hears cases against the Government, the United States is always the defendant in cases before the CFC.

The court receives a variety of claims against the government, including breach of contract claims, illegal exaction claims, takings claims under the 5th Amendment, claims involving military pay, claims for patent and copyright infringement against the government, federal tax refund claims, and protests regarding contract bidding procedures. According to the Court, tax refund suits make up a quarter of the claims brought before it, although the court exercises concurrent jurisdiction with United States district courts in this area.

Orders and judgments from the court are appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which resides in the same building as the CFC.

Congressional references

The court also may hear congressional reference cases, which are cases referred to the court by either house of Congress. The judge serving as hearing officer renders a report as to the case's merits, which is reviewed by a panel of judges formed for that purpose. The report is forwarded back to the chamber of Congress requesting it.[14]

Judges

Current judges

Judge Duty Station Born Appointed Chief Senior Appointed by
Margaret M. Sweeney Washington 1955 2005–present 2018–present[15] G.W. Bush (Judge)
Trump (Chief Judge)
Thomas C. Wheeler Washington 1948 2005–present G.W. Bush
Patricia E. Campbell-Smith Washington 1966 2013–present 2013–2017[16][17] Obama (Judge and Chief Judge)
Elaine D. Kaplan Washington 1955 2013–present Obama
Lydia Kay Griggsby Washington 1968 2015–present Obama
Vacant Washington
Vacant Washington
Vacant Washington
Vacant Washington
Vacant Washington
Vacant Washington
Vacant Washington
Vacant Washington
Vacant Washington
Vacant Washington
Vacant Washington
Reginald W. Gibson inactive 1927 1982–1995 1995–present Reagan
Robert J. Yock inactive 1938 1983–1998 1998–present Reagan
Loren A. Smith Washington 1939 1985–2000 1986–2000 2000–present Reagan
Moody R. Tidwell, III inactive 1939 1983–1998 1998–present Reagan
Eric G. Bruggink Washington 1949 1986–2001 2001–present Reagan
John Paul Wiese Washington 1934 1982–2001 2001–present Reagan
Bohdan A. Futey inactive 1939 1987–2002 2002–present Reagan
Robert H. Hodges, Jr. Washington 1932 1990–2005 2005–present G. H.W. Bush
Lynn J. Bush Washington 1948 1998–2013 2013–present Clinton
Lawrence M. Baskir inactive 1938 1998–2013 2000–2002 2013–present Clinton
Edward J. Damich Washington 1948 1998–2013 2002–2009 2013–present Clinton (Judge)
Bush (Chief Judge)
Nancy B. Firestone Washington 1951 1998–2013 2013–present Clinton
Susan G. Braden Washington 1948 2003–2018 2017–2018 2018–present G.W. Bush (Judge)
Trump (Chief Judge)
Marian Blank Horn Washington 1943 1986
2003–2018
2018–present Reagan
G.W. Bush
Charles F. Lettow Washington 1941 2003–2018 2018–present G.W. Bush
Mary Ellen Coster Williams Washington 1953 2003–2018 2018–present G.W. Bush
Victor J. Wolski Washington 1962 2003–2018 2018–present G.W. Bush

Vacancies and pending nominations

Seat last held by Vacancy reason Date of vacancy Nominee Date of nomination
Lynn J. Bush Senior Status October 21, 2013
Emily C. Hewitt Retirement
Edward J. Damich Senior Status
Nancy B. Firestone Ryan T. Holte September 28, 2017
George W. Miller Retirement August 7, 2013 Richard Hertling May 7, 2018
Lawrence J. Block January 8, 2016 Maureen Ohlhausen January 24, 2018
Marian Blank Horn Senior Status March 9, 2018
Susan G. Braden July 13, 2018
Victor J. Wolski July 14, 2018
Charles F. Lettow
Mary Ellen Coster Williams

Former judges

United States Court of Federal Claims on Madison Place in Washington, D.C.
United States Court of Federal Claims on Madison Place in Washington, D.C.

See also

References

  1. ^ 28 U.S.C. § 172
  2. ^ 28 U.S.C. § 171
  3. ^ 28 U.S.C. § 176(a)
  4. ^ 28 U.S.C. § 1491
  5. ^ 28 U.S.C. § 1492
  6. ^ Cowen, Wilson; Philip Nichols, Jr.; Marion T. Bennett (1978). The United States Court of Claims: A History; Part II: Origin, Development, Jurisdiction, 1855–1978. Washington, D.C.: Committee on the Bicentennial of Independence and the Constitution of the Judicial Conference of the United States. p. 92.
  7. ^ (§105, §165 & §167, Federal Courts Improvement Act of 1982, P.L. 97-164, 96 Stat. 25, 50).
  8. ^ Court History Brochure
  9. ^ http://www.uscfc.uscourts.gov/sites/default/files/court_info/Court_History_Brochure.pdf
  10. ^ 42 U.S.C. § 300aa-12
  11. ^ Gregory C. Sisk, Michael F. Noone, Litigation with the Federal Government (2006), p. 246: "Even today, the traditional money claim under the Tucker Act remains the grist for the Court of Federal Claims mill. The Court of Federal Claims does not have general authority to grant equitable remedies, such as injunctions or specific performance in contract".
  12. ^ 28 U.S.C. § 2501
  13. ^ 28 USC § 2505: "Any judge of the United States Court of Federal Claims may sit at any place within the United States to take evidence and enter judgment".
  14. ^ 28 U.S.C. § 1492, 28 U.S.C. § 2509
  15. ^ "President Trump Designates Judge Margaret M. Sweeney as Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims". The United States Court of Federal Claims. The United States Court of Federal Claims. Retrieved July 20, 2018.
  16. ^ "President Obama Designates Judge Patricia E. Campbell-Smith to Serve as Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims". The White House. Office of the Press Secretary. Retrieved January 13, 2014.
  17. ^ "President Trump Designates Judge Susan G. Braden as Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims". The United States Court of Federal Claims. The United States Court of Federal Claims. Retrieved March 17, 2017.

Bibliography

  • The United States Court of Federal Claims handbook and procedures manual by David B. Stinson. 2nd ed. Washington, D.C.: Bar Association of the District of Columbia, 2003.
  • The United States Court of Federal Claims : a deskbook for practitioners by United States Court of Federal Claims Bar Association. 4th ed. Washington, D.C.: The Bar Association, 1998.

Further reading

External links

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