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Fells v. US, 10-1537

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By FindLaw Staff on December 23, 2010 3:24 PM

Convenient store owner's challenge to a decision disqualifying him from participating in the Food Stamp Program

Fells v. US, 10-1537, concerned a challenge to the district court's affirmance of a final decision of the Food and Nutrition Service of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), permanently disqualifying plaintiff's convenience store from participating in the Food Stamp Program for engaging in the trafficking of food stamps.  In affirming the judgment, the court held that the the district court correctly found that plaintiff failed to satisfy his burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that the disqualification from the Program was invalid.

As the court wrote: "Here, we cannot say that the district court's finding that Mr. Fells failed to provide evidence to prove the invalidity of the agency's action was clearly erroneous.  The district court carefully examined all of the evidence - store photos, inventory receipts and information about customer purchasing patterns at surrounding stores - which amply supported the agency's finding that Mr. Fells trafficked in food stamps.  Mr Fells was "free to rebut" that evidence.  Here on appeal, however, Mr. Fell has not demonstrated that the district court's conclusion that his explanations were unpersuasive and unsupported by the record is clearly erroneous."

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