The United States Supreme Court announced Monday that it had granted review of three more cases involving civil procedure, bankruptcy law and workers’ compensation. The announcement marked the first list of regular court orders in nearly a month, as the judges returned from their winter break vacation.
The first case, United States v. Washington, discusses the federal government’s challenge to a state’s workers’ compensation law in Washington. It involves 10,000 federal workers employed at the Hanford site, a former nuclear production complex operated by the US government from 1943 to 1971.
The site was the world’s first large-scale plutonium production reactor and produced material used in atomic bombs dropped on Japan during World War II. It also generated a significant amount of radioactive waste which led to environmental and occupational health problems. The question is whether workers at the clean-up site are eligible under a workers’ compensation law passed by the Washington legislature in 2018, or whether such a law is prohibited by the principles of immunity. intergovernmental.
The state legislature amended its workers’ compensation law to cover 100,000 former and current federal contract workers who have performed work on the site over the past 70 years. The amended law presumes that occupational diseases resulting from work at the radioactive site must trigger eligibility for benefits. According to a Bloomberg report, the federal government argued that such laws expose it and federal contractors to “massive new costs” that similarly situated public and private employers do not incur. Ninth Circuit judges upheld the law, and the Justice Ministry asked the Supreme Court to take up the case.
The second case, Siegel v. Fitzgerald, deals with bankruptcy court fees. The Bankruptcy Judgeship Act, passed in 2017, increased fees in some bankruptcy courts, but not in others. The Supreme Court will decide whether this violates a provision of the Constitution’s bankruptcy clause that directs Congress to establish “uniform bankruptcy laws across the United States.” The charges in question were challenged by a Circuit City trustee and were found unconstitutional by the Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. On appeal, the charges were confirmed by the Fourth Circuit.
The last case, Kemp v. United States, deals with civil procedure. The case examines whether a district court can reopen a judgment under federal rule of civil procedure 60 (b) (1). Under this rule, the district court can reopen a judgment due to “excusable error, inadvertence, surprise or negligence”, if the original judgment was based on a legal error of the district court. The district court dismissed Kemp’s post-conviction petition as untimely, and it was upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. The Supreme Court granted a review despite opposition from the Justice Department, which said the issue rarely arises.