Lindahl v. Office of Personnel Management

RESPONDENT: Office of Personnel Management
LOCATION: Los Angeles International Airport

DOCKET NO.: 83-5954
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1981-1986)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit

CITATION: 470 US 768 (1985)
ARGUED: Dec 03, 1984
DECIDED: Mar 20, 1985

Edwin S. Kneedler - on behalf of Respondent
John Murcko - on behalf of Petitioner

Facts of the case


Media for Lindahl v. Office of Personnel Management

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - December 03, 1984 in Lindahl v. Office of Personnel Management

Warren E. Burger:

We'll hear arguments next in Lindahl against Office of Personnel Management.

Mr. Murcko, I think you may proceed when you're ready.

John Murcko:

Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the Court:

The case here concerns the issue of whether or not the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals had jurisdiction to rule on the determinations of disability retirement.

There is an anomaly in this case, that the majority of judges below decided that the Federal Circuit does have jurisdiction; however, the ruling was that in this particular case there is not jurisdiction.

We think that resolution of this issue is very straightforward.

Simply, this Court is called upon to determine whether under 5 U.S.C. 8347(c) the Federal Circuit has jurisdiction to rule on physical disability determinations that are denied by the OPM or whether it is precluded only from... the Federal Circuit is only precluded from reviewing decisions on factual determinations.

And we think the canons of judicial interpretation by this Court in the past provide a very straightforward answer here, and we think essentially that the Congressional intent here was only to limit determinations of disability retirement on factual issues and not on legal, procedural or constitutional issues.

And we think the court below erred when it ruled the way it did.

And we think the first cannon of judicial interpretation is that there is no clear and convincing evidence of Congressional intent to bar all judicial review under 8347(c).

Sandra Day O'Connor:

Well now, Mr. Murcko, I guess you have to persuade us, first of all, that the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has jurisdiction by virtue of Section 7703, do you, before we even reach the 8347(c) question?

John Murcko:


Sandra Day O'Connor:

Don't you have a preliminary step?

John Murcko:

--No, I don't believe that we do have to reach that issue, because I think in the retirement cases, the disability retirement cases, jurisdiction exists under 8347(c), and that that is the basis of jurisdiction.

Sandra Day O'Connor:

Well, what if Section 7703 deals only with employees or applicants for employment and there was no jurisdiction conferred at all?

John Murcko:

Well, we think that under 7703 that, first, that issue is not related here, that is not related to this case.

However, when Congress passed the Civil Service Reform Act in '77... in 1978, it gave a broad grant of jurisdiction under 7703 and it specifically stated that it covered all cases coming from the Merit System Protection Board.

It covered all cases coming from the Merit System Protection Board, and there was no exclusion of any cases except for Section 2 cases, which cover discrimination.

So we think that there is a broad grant of review there under 7703, as we cover in our brief, stating that we believe that--

Sandra Day O'Connor:

You think it covers retired employees?

John Murcko:

--Yes, I think that it does.

Sandra Day O'Connor:

And survivors?

John Murcko:

No, I think it just covers employees or retired employees.

In fact, the Federal Circuit below in Bronger specifically stated that it includes employees and the retired employees.

And if you look under 8337, the retirement section, it says that an employee is entitled to retirement if he puts in five years and he's too disabled to work.

And if you don't... if you adopt the interpretation by the U.S. Government, that would mean that an individual could never apply for retirement if he's terminated from his job.

And there's a one-year statute of limitations after a person is terminated, so that would mean a person, once he is no longer working, can no longer apply for retirement.

And second, it would mean that any person who is terminated--

Warren E. Burger:

Mr. Murcko, it would be helpful if you would raise your voice and stay near the center of the lectern.

John Murcko:

--I'm sorry, yes.