Justia Public Benefits Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Arbitration & Mediation
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The Randolph-Sheppard Act, 20 U.S.C. 107(a), provides economic opportunities by granting blind persons priority to operate vending facilities at certain government properties. When a blind vendor, Belsha, was awarded certain vending operations in Racine County, Wisconsin, a different blind vendor, Taylor, became unhappy and challenged the award. The Act is administered by state licensing agencies; Taylor’s challenge traveled first through Wisconsin’s regulatory process. Although Taylor achieved some success through the Wisconsin Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, she commenced federal administrative proceedings with the Secretary of Education. An arbitration panel awarded Taylor money damages and a permanent vending machine services contract for a site in Racine.The district court vacated the arbitration decision, ruling that there were no material deficiencies in the choice of Belsha for the Racine site, that the arbitration panel’s key factual findings were not supported by substantial evidence, and the arbitration panel’s ultimate conclusion was arbitrary and capricious. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. The arbitration panel mistakenly substituted the APA standard of review for the burden of proof of a disappointed vendor under the Act. View "Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development v. Taylor" on Justia Law

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The Randolph-Sheppard Act, 20 U.S.C. 107–107e, gives blind persons a priority in winning contracts to operate vending facilities on federal properties. Fort Campbell, Kentucky, operates a cafeteria for its soldiers. For about 20 years, Kentucky’s Office for the Blind (OFB) has helped blind vendors apply for and win the base’s contracts for various services. In 2012, the Army, the federal entity that operates Fort Campbell, published a solicitation, asking for bids to provide dining-facility-attendant services. Rather than doing so under the Act, as it had before, the Army issued this solicitation as a set aside for Small Business Administration Historically Underutilized Business Zones. OFB, representing its blind vendor, filed for arbitration under the Act, and, days later, filed suit, seeking to prevent the Army from awarding the contract. The district court held that it lacked jurisdiction to consider a request for a preliminary injunction. The Sixth Circuit vacated. OFB’s failure to seek and complete arbitration does not deprive the federal courts of jurisdiction. View "Commonwealth of Kentucky v. United States" on Justia Law

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From 2007 to 2008, Dorothy Rogers received Medicare benefits through Pacificare's federally-approved Medicare Advantage Plan, Secure Horizons. Rogers and Pacificare entered into separate contracts each year providing the terms and conditions of coverage. After receiving treatment from the Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada (ECSN), a facility approved by Pacificare for use by its Secure Horizons plan members, Rogers tested positive for hepatitis C. Rogers sued Pacificare, alleging that Pacificare should be held responsible for her injuries because it failed to adopt and implement an appropriate quality assurance program. Pacificare moved to dismiss her claims and compel arbitration based on a provision in the parties' 2007 contract. The district court determined that the 2007 contract governed, but held that the arbitration provision was unconscionable and, thus, unenforceable. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) because the parties in this case did not expressly rescind the arbitration provision at issue, the provision survived the 2007 contract's expiration and was properly invoked; and (2) as the Medicare Act expressly preempts any state laws or regulations with respect to the Medicare plan at issue in this case, Nevada's unconscionability doctrine was preempted to the extent that it would regulate federally-approved Medicare plans. View "Pacificare of Nevada v. Rogers" on Justia Law