Federal Circuit - The FindLaw Federal Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog

December 2012 Archives

One of the key roles of the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals is to hear reviews from the Merit System Protection Board (MSPB). This year, the court has issued a number of decisions affecting the rights of federal employees post-termination.

Below, we've included a run-down of three of the more interesting employment law decisions handed down this year.

Fed Circuit: I'm Gonna Git You, Sucka

Marsha Fox had only one option when the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board refused to register her trademark for a custom-candy line: Pray that the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals would have a sense of humor. Sadly, it didn't.

This week, the Federal Circuit agreed that Fox's mark was unregistrable because it creates a clearly vulgar double entendre.

So what turn of phrase was too offensive to trademark?

Federal Circuit Transfers Dulles Toll Road Challenge

You can't blame the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals for what happens to the Dulles Toll Road.

The Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority (MWAA) operates the Dulles Toll Road in Virginia. Plaintiffs John Corr and John Grisby claim the tolls are a tax and constitute an illegal exaction in violation of the Due Process Clause because they are assessed by MWAA, an unelected body.

They also assert that the MWAA composition violates separation of powers by intruding on the president's authority under Article II.

SCOTUS; District Court Has Original Jurisdiction in MSPB 'Mixed Cases'

The Federal Circuit Court of Appeals generally hears reviews from the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB). The Supreme Court clarified an exception to that rule this week.

Monday, the Court ruled that a federal employee who claims that an agency action appealable to the MSPB violates an anti-discrimination statute should seek judicial review in district court — not the Federal Circuit — regardless whether the MSPB decided her case on procedural grounds or on the merits.

SCOTUS to Review Fed Circuit's Gene Patenting Decision

The Federal Circuit has twice ruled that human genes can be patented. Now, it's the Supreme Court's turn to decide.

Last week, the Court granted certiorari in Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, Inc.

Vets Aren't Guaranteed Effective Counsel for Benefits Appeals

Ernest Pitts, Jr., a veteran, claimed that he was entitled to disability benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) based on post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD), a psychiatric disorder other than PTSD, a sinus disorder, and a skin disorder, all of which he contends are service-connected conditions.

The Board of Veterans' Appeals found that (1) Pitt's lower back condition resulted not from service but from a post-service work-related injury; (2) there was no evidence that his psychiatric disorder other than PTSD was linked to his service; and (3) his PTSD claim was not shown to be service-connected because there was no evidence of an in-service stressor.

The Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC) affirmed the Board's ruling.