The United States Court of Federal Claims
(in case citations, Fed. Cl.
) is a United States federal court
The United States federal courts make up the judiciary branch of federal government of the United States organized under the United States Constitution and laws of the federal government.-Categories:...
that hears monetary claims against the U.S. government
The federal government of the United States is the national government of the constitutional republic of fifty states that is the United States of America. The federal government comprises three distinct branches of government: a legislative, an executive and a judiciary. These branches and...
. The court is established pursuant to Congress's authority under Article One of the United States Constitution
Article One of the United States Constitution describes the powers of Congress, the legislative branch of the federal government. The Article establishes the powers of and limitations on the Congress, consisting of a House of Representatives composed of Representatives, with each state gaining or...
. Unlike judges of courts established under Article Three of the United States Constitution
Article Three of the United States Constitution establishes the judicial branch of the federal government. The judicial branch comprises the Supreme Court of the United States and lower courts as created by Congress.-Section 1: Federal courts:...
, judges on the Court of Federal Claims do not have life tenure
A life tenure or service during good behaviour is a term of office that lasts for the office holder's lifetime , unless the office holder is removed from office for cause under extraordinary circumstances or chooses to resign.Judges and members of some upper chambers have life tenure...
(see Article I and Article III tribunals
In the United States, the American legal system includes both state courts and United States federal courts. The federal tribunals may be an Article III tribunal or another adjudicative body classified as an Article I or an Article IV tribunal...
). Instead they serve for 15-year terms and are eligible for reappointment. The sixteen judges of the court are nominated by the President
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....
Advice and consent is an English phrase frequently used in enacting formulae of bills and in other legal or constitutional contexts, describing a situation in which the executive branch of a government enacts something previously approved of by the legislative branch.-General:The expression is...
by the Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...
The court house of the Court of Federal Claims is situated in the Howard T. Markey National Courts Building
The Howard T. Markey National Courts Building is a courthouse in Washington, D.C., which houses the United States Court of Federal Claims and the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit...
(on Madison Place
Madison Place is a one-block street located in northwest Washington, D.C., across from the White House. It forms the eastern border of Lafayette Square between Pennsylvania Avenue and H Street NW. Buildings on Madison Place include the Howard T...
across from the White House
The White House is the official residence and principal workplace of the president of the United States. Located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW in Washington, D.C., the house was designed by Irish-born James Hoban, and built between 1792 and 1800 of white-painted Aquia sandstone in the Neoclassical...
) in Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....
The court was formed on October 1, 1982, as the United States Claims Court
(in case citations, Cl. Ct.
) and it is a successor to the trial division of the United States Court of Claims
The Court of Claims was a federal court that heard claims against the United States government. It was established in 1855 as the Court of Claims, renamed in 1948 to the United States Court of Claims , and abolished in 1982....
. The National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act
The National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 was enacted in the United States to reduce the potential financial liability of vaccine makers due to vaccine injury claims. The legislation was aimed at ensuring a stable market supply, and to provide cost-effective arbitration for vaccine...
of 1986 gave the court the authority to create an Office of Special Master
In law, a special master is an authority appointed by a judge to make sure that judicial orders are actually followed.In England, at common law, there were "Masters in Chancery," who acted in aid of the Equity Courts. There were also "Masters in Lunacy," who conducted inquiries of the same nature...
s to receive and hear certain vaccine injury cases, and the jurisdiction to review those cases. On October 28, 1992, the name of the court was changed to the United States Court of Federal Claims
The court has special jurisdiction
Jurisdiction is the practical authority granted to a formally constituted legal body or to a political leader to deal with and make pronouncements on legal matters and, by implication, to administer justice within a defined area of responsibility...
, spelled out in : it hears claims for money that arise from the United States Constitution
The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the United States of America. It is the framework for the organization of the United States government and for the relationship of the federal government with the states, citizens, and all people within the United States.The first three...
, federal statutes
An Act of Congress is a statute enacted by government with a legislature named "Congress," such as the United States Congress or the Congress of the Philippines....
, executive regulations, or an express or implied in fact contract
An implied-in-fact contract is a contract agreed by non-verbal conduct, rather than by explicit words. As defined by the United States Supreme Court, it is "an agreement 'implied in fact'" as "founded upon a meeting of minds, which, although not embodied in an express contract, is inferred, as a...
with the United States Government, most notably under the Tucker Act
Through the Tucker Act , the United States government has waived its sovereign immunity with respect to certain lawsuits....
. The court has concurrent jurisdiction
Concurrent jurisdiction exists where two or more courts from different systems simultaneously have jurisdiction over a specific case. This situation leads to forum shopping, as parties will try to have their civil or criminal case heard in the court that they perceive will be most favorable to...
with U.S. district courts
The United States district courts are the general trial courts of the United States federal court system. Both civil and criminal cases are filed in the district court, which is a court of law, equity, and admiralty. There is a United States bankruptcy court associated with each United States...
, when the claim is for less than $10,000, by the provisions of . Claims have a statute of limitations
A statute of limitations is an enactment in a common law legal system that sets the maximum time after an event that legal proceedings based on that event may be initiated...
of six years from the time the claim first accrues . This limitation is strictly construed by the court.
The court has concurrent jurisdiction involving contracts with the federal government, where a contractor has the option of choosing between filing suit with the court or with the agency Board of Contract Appeals. The general rule is that a contractor may either 1) file suit within 90 days with the agency Board of Contract Appeals or 2) file suit within one year with the court. A contractor, however, must choose which forum in which to file; a contractor cannot file suit with both the agency Board and with the court. (However, in a case where a contractor has filed with the Board, and the Government challenges the timeliness of the filing — the 90-day limit is statutory and cannot be extended — the contractor can file with the court within the one-year period to protect its claims.)
Unlike district courts, which generally only have jurisdiction over disputes in their geographic district, the COFC has jurisdiction over disputes wherever they occur in the country. To accommodate litigants, judges on the court may hold trials at local courthouses near where the disputes arise.
All trials at the court are bench trial
A bench trial is a trial held before a judge sitting without a jury. The term is chiefly used in common law jurisdictions to describe exceptions from jury trial, as most other legal systems do not use juries to any great extent....
s, without juries. Because the court only hears cases against the Government, the United States is always the defendant in cases before the COFC.
The court receives a variety of claims against the government, including breach of contract
Breach of contract is a legal cause of action in which a binding agreement or bargained-for exchange is not honored by one or more of the parties to the contract by non-performance or interference with the other party's performance....
claims, illegal exaction claims, takings claims under the 5th Amendment
The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which is part of the Bill of Rights, protects against abuse of government authority in a legal procedure. Its guarantees stem from English common law which traces back to the Magna Carta in 1215...
, claims involving military pay
United States Military Pay is money paid to members in the United States Armed Forces. The amount of pay may vary by the member's rank, time in the military, location duty assignment, and by some special skills the member may have.-Pay versus Allowance:...
, claims for patent
In the United States, a patent provides its proprietor with the right to exclude others from utilizing the invention claimed in that patent. Should a person utilize that invention, without the permission of the patent proprietor, they may infringe that patent.More specifically, an infringement may...
and copyright infringement
Copyright infringement is the unauthorized or prohibited use of works under copyright, infringing the copyright holder's exclusive rights, such as the right to reproduce or perform the copyrighted work, or to make derivative works.- "Piracy" :...
against the government, federal tax refund claims, and protests regarding contract bidding procedures.
Orders and judgments from the court are appealed to the united State Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which resides in the same building as the COFC.
The court also may hear congressional reference cases, which are cases referred to the court by either house of Congress. The judge serving as hearing officer renders a report as to the case's merits, which is reviewed by a panel of judges formed for that purpose. The report is forwarded back to the chamber of Congress requesting it.
Current judges include:
- Emily C. Hewitt
-Early life:Hewitt graduated from the Roland Park Country School in Baltimore, Maryland and earned an A.B. from Cornell University in 1966. She received an M.Phil. degree from the Union Theological Seminary in New York City in studies focusing on religion and education, and was ordained to the...
, Chief Judge
- Francis M. Allegra
Francis Marion Allegra is an American federal judge on the United States Court of Federal Claims.-Early life and education:Judge Allegra grew up in Cleveland and graduated from St. Edward High School in Lakewood, Ohio...
- Lawrence M. Baskir
- Lawrence J. Block
Lawrence J. Block is an American federal judge on the United States Court of Federal Claims who was confirmed on October 2, 2002.-Education and Experience:...
- Susan G. Braden
- Lynn J. Bush
- Edward J. Damich
- Nancy B. Firestone
- Marian Blank Horn
- Charles F. Lettow
- Christine Odell Cook Miller
- George W. Miller
- Margaret M. Sweeney
- Thomas C. Wheeler
- Mary Ellen Coster Williams
- Victor J. Wolski
- Eric G. Bruggink
- Bohdan A. Futey
- Robert H. Hodges, Jr.
- Lawrence S. Margolis
- James F. Merow
- Loren A. Smith
- John Paul Wiese
- Robert J. Yock
Judgments of the court may be appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
-Vacancies and pending nominations:-List of former judges:-Chief judges:Notwithstanding the foregoing, when the court was initially created, Congress had to resolve which chief judge of the predecessor courts would become the first chief judge...