Justia Government Contracts Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals
HDC, LLC v. City of Ann Arbor
The city accepted a proposal to develop city-owned property. The developer formed companies to develop and own the affordable housing portion of the project. The city gave the developer an option to purchase the property under certain conditions. The developer failed to meet a condition that it obtain a demolition permit by a specific date. The city terminated the agreement. The developer alleged violations of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. 3601, and state laws, claiming that the city knew or should have known that the condition was impossible to meet and actually terminated the agreement because the project would accommodate handicapped tenants. The district court dismissed. The Sixth Circuit affirmed. The facts alleged do not plausibly support findings: that the city designed the agreement to fail by including a condition it should have known that plaintiffs, sophisticated developers, could not meet; that the city did not want to house the handicapped; or that termination caused handicapped individuals to suffer disproportionately more than others. View "HDC, LLC v. City of Ann Arbor" on Justia Law
Ross Cnty. Water Co., Inc v. City of Chillicothe
Plaintiff is a non-profit, member-owned, water company serving rural areas of Ross County, Ohio. To finance its system, plaintiff borrowed nearly $10.6 million from the USDA. The disputed area of the county includes properties served by the city and properties served by plaintiff. Each has objected to the other's extension of new lines to the area. The district court granted plaintiff summary judgment, finding that the company is protected under the Agriculture Act, 7 U.S.C. 1926(b)(2), based on its obligations under the USDA contract, had a legal right to serve the area under a contract with the county, and did not have unclean hands. The Sixth Circuit affirmed.View "Ross Cnty. Water Co., Inc v. City of Chillicothe" on Justia Law
Golden Living Ctr.-Frankfort v. Sec’y of Health & Human Servs.
A 66-year -old arrived at petitioner's center with complex ailments, but oriented, able to feed herself and able to speak. During her 18 days at the center, she was sent to the hospital twice with serious medical complications. Upon investigation, the center was found to have failed to maintain substantial compliance with federal regulations for facilities that participate in Medicare and Medicaid (42 U.S.C. § 1395) in its treatment of the resident and appealed the resulting civil money penalty. An administrative law judge, the Departmental Appeals Board, and the Sixth Circuit affirmed. The ALJ acted properly in requiring submission of written testimony, properly weighed the evidence, and found violation of the federal hydration standard, laboratory services requirement, and mandate of a care plan, resulting in "immediate jeopardy." View "Golden Living Ctr.-Frankfort v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs. " on Justia Law
Chesbrough v. VPA, P.C.
Doctors filed suit, alleging violations of the False Claims Act, 31 U.S.C. 3279 and the Michigan Medicaid False Claim Act, as qui tam relators on behalf of the United States/ The claimed that the business defrauded the government by submitting Medicare and Medicaid billings for defective radiology studies, and that the billings were also fraudulent because the business was an invalid corporation. The federal government declined to intervene. The district court dismissed. Sixth Circuit affirmed. The doctors failed to identify any specific fraudulent claim submitted to the government, as is required to plead an FCA violation with the particularity mandated by the FRCP. A relator cannot merely allege that a defendant violated a standard (in this case, with respect to radiology studies), but must allege that compliance with the standard was required to obtain payment. The doctors had no personal knowledge that claims for nondiagnostic tests were presented to the government, nor do they allege facts that strongly support an inference that such billings were submitted.View "Chesbrough v. VPA, P.C." on Justia Law
Henry Ford Health Sys. v. Dept. of Health & Human Servs.
The Medicare program pays teaching hospitals to cover "direct" and "indirect costs of medical education," 42 U.S.C. 1395ww(d)(5)(B), (h). Direct costs include expenses such as residents' salaries. Indirect costs are incurred due to "general inefficiencies" and "extra demands placed on other staff." Congress created a formula for calculating indirect expenses based on full-time equivalency interns; an HHS regulation referred to time residents spend in the "portion of the hospital subject to the prospective payment system or in the outpatient department of the hospital." In reimbursing plaintiff, HHS excluded from the FTE count time residents spent on pure research, unrelated to treatment of a patient. While appeal of a decision favoring the hospital was pending, Congress enacted the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, 124 Stat. 119, 660–61. For the years at issue, HHS must include in FTE: "all the time spent by an intern or resident in an approved medical residency training program in non-patient care activities, such as didactic conferences and seminars, as such time and activities are defined by the Secretary." HHS promulgated a regulation specifying that eligible non-patient care activities do not include time residents spend conducting pure research. The Sixth Circuit upheld the regulation as within the Secretary's authority and applicable to the years at issue. View "Henry Ford Health Sys. v. Dept. of Health & Human Servs." on Justia Law
Nat’l Air Traffic Controllers Ass’n v. Sec’y of the Dep’t. of Transp.
In 1993, the FAA decided to privatize all Level I air traffic control towers. About 1500 controllers were forced to leave the field, be trained to operate higher level towers, or secure employment with the private contractors. Office of Management and Budget Circular A-76 prohibits the federal government from performing an activity that could be performed for less cost by the private sector. Before privatizing a function, an agency must determine whether that function is inherently governmental or commercial. A governmental function must be performed by government employees. The district court first dismissed, but, on remand, instructed the FAA to undergo Circular A-76 analysis. The FAA continued to privatize towers and controllers again brought suit. The district court again remanded to the FAA for analysis, but refused to terminate private contracts already in place. The court later granted the FAA partial summary judgment, based on a 2003 amendment to 49 U.S.C. 47124, indicating that work in Level I towers is not an inherently governmental function, then dismissed remaining claims for lack of standing. The Sixth Circuit affirmed. Every tower privatized in the 1993 program fit within the section 47124(b)(3) mandate. View "Nat'l Air Traffic Controllers Ass'n v. Sec'y of the Dep't. of Transp." on Justia Law
Himes v. United States
Plaintiff, employed by a company contracted to do grounds maintenance, was injured while mowing grass at an Army base. A deteriorating steam pipe fell, striking him in the head. The district court granted summary judgment to the United States, reasoning that under the Kentucky Workers' Compensation Law, the United States was an up-the-ladder contractor, or statutory employer, so that plaintiff's only remedy was the workers' compensation benefits he received from his direct employer. The Sixth Circuit affirmed, holding that the U.S. government is a "person" entitled to the up-the-ladder defense and that the waiver of immunity under the Federal Torts Claims Act, 28 U.S.C. 1346, provides for claims in the same manner and to the same extent as a private individual. The government "secured the payment of compensation" by hiring a contractor and, therefore, cannot be treated as an employer that did not secure benefits. The work performed by plaintiff was a "regular and recurrent" part of work at the facility and the government was entitled to contractor immunity. View "Himes v. United States" on Justia Law
United States v. Jones
A podiatrist, primarily serving elderly patients, was convicted of healthcare fraud counts that resulted in a loss of $120. The podiatrist was sentenced to 18 months in prison followed by three years of supervision and ordered to pay more than $244,000, based on acquittal counts. The Sixth Circuit affirmed the conviction, but vacated and remanded the sentence. There was sufficient evidence that the podiatrist mailed bills for patients who were not actually treated and for work done by staff no longer employed at the office. Sentencing based on acquittal counts is not unconstitutional if those counts have been established by a preponderance of evidence, but the sentence was unreasonable. Although a court need only make a reasonable estimate of loss, the court relied solely on statistical evidence about loss from up-coding without a sound representative sample. The acquittal counts were part of a broad scheme to defraud and an award of restitution, based on those counts, was proper.