757 F.2d 581 (3rd Cir. 1985), 84-1007, Hahn v. United States

Docket Nº:84-1007.
Citation:757 F.2d 581
Party Name:HAHN, Michael S. and Bradley, B. Shay and all other persons similarly situated v. UNITED STATES of America, Appellant.
Case Date:March 18, 1985
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
 
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Page 581

757 F.2d 581 (3rd Cir. 1985)

HAHN, Michael S. and Bradley, B. Shay and all other persons

similarly situated

v.

UNITED STATES of America, Appellant.

No. 84-1007.

United States Court of Appeals, Third Circuit

March 18, 1985

Argued Nov. 26, 1984.

As Amended April 1, 1985.

Rehearing and Rehearing In Banc Denied April 16, 1985.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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Richard K. Willard, Acting Asst. Atty. Gen., Washington, D.C., Edward S.G. Dennis, Jr., U.S. Atty., Philadelphia, Pa., Anthony J. Steinmeyer, Richard A. Olderman (argued), Appellate Staff, Dept. of Justice Civil Div., Washington, D.C., for appellant.

Stuart J. Agins (argued), Robert B. Bodzin, Stephanie R. Whitlon, Mesirov, Gelman, Jaffee, Cramer & Jamieson, Philadelphia, Pa., for appellees.

Before ADAMS, HIGGINBOTHAM and SLOVITER, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

A. LEON HIGGINBOTHAM, Jr., Circuit Judge.

This is an appeal from a final judgment of the district court for a plaintiff class consisting of persons who participated in the National Health Service Corps Scholarship Program prior to September 15, 1981 and who became or will become commissioned medical or dental officers of the Public Health Service after that date. The district court permanently enjoined the government from denying class members "constructive service credit" for their professional education in the calculation of their basic pay, ordered that class members receive constructive service credit retroactive to the date of their commissions, and awarded back pay. Because we find that the district court did not have jurisdiction over the plaintiffs' claims for monetary relief, and that it erred in concluding that plaintiffs were entitled to constructive service credit under applicable statutes, we will vacate the judgment of the district court.

I.

The events giving rise to this litigation have unfolded before a somewhat complicated statutory backdrop. Thus, it will be helpful to first explore the relevant statutory scheme, and then the specific events leading to this appeal.

  1. The Scholarship Program & Constructive Service Credit

    The National Health Service Corps (the "NHS Corps") was established within the Public Health Service of the Department of Health and Human Services "to improve the delivery of health services in health manpower shortage areas...." 42 U.S.C. Sec. 254d(a)(2) (1982). To assure an adequate supply of trained physicians and dentists for the NHS Corps, Congress established the National Health Service Corps Scholarship Program (the "Scholarship Program"). 42 U.S.C. Sec. 254l. Under the Scholarship Program, the Secretary of Health and Human Services (the "Secretary") provides scholarships to eligible students in professional health degree programs who, by written contract, agree to serve upon the completion of their training, a "period of obligated service" equal to one year for each year the student receives a scholarship, or a minimum of two years. 42 U.S.C. Sec. 254l(f).

    A scholarship recipient may meet his or her service obligation in a number of ways: (1) as a member of the NHS Corps, 42 U.S.C. Sec. 254m(a); (2) in private practice in a health manpower shortage area, 42 U.S.C. Sec. 254n; or (3) through service under a National Research Service Award, 42 U.S.C. Sec. 254m(e). The NHS Corps consists of three categories of members: (1) commissioned officers of the Regular and Reserve Corps of the Public Health Service (the "PHS Commissioned Corps"); (2) civilian

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    employees of the United States; and (3) other individuals who are not employees of the United States. 42 U.S.C. Sec. 254d(a)(1). The Public Health Service is considered a "uniformed service", 37 U.S.C. Sec. 101(3), and therefore the compensation and benefits for officers of the PHS Commissioned Corps are governed by the same basic laws as for members of the armed forces. Compensation and benefits for civilian employees are governed by the civil service laws.

    Prior to September 15, 1981, scholarship recipients who became medical or dental officers of the PHS Commissioned Corps were entitled to receive, in the calculation of their basic pay, "constructive service credit" of up to four years. "Constructive service credit is a way of recognizing time invested in additional preparation for professional status and is awarded to officers entering service when that advanced preparation, beyond the bachelor degree, is a prerequisite to his or her being appointed as an officer in a professional specialty." H.R.Rep. No. 1462, 96th Cong., 2d Sess. 37, reprinted in 1980 U.S.Code Cong. & Ad.News 6333, 6367. The Defense Officer Personnel Management Act of 1980, P.L. No. 96-513, 94 Stat. 2835 ("DOPMA"), as part of a major restructuring of the military pay system, and in recognition of other incentives that had previously been enacted, repealed the provision allowing medical and dental officers constructive service credit. DOPMA did, however, contain the following saving provision:

    Sec. 625. (a) The amendments made by this Act do not affect the crediting of years of service to any person who on the day before the effective date of this Act--

    (1) had been credited with years of service upon an original appointment as an officer or after such an appointment; or

    (2) was participating in a program leading to an appointment as an officer in the Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marine Corps and the crediting of years of service.

    (b)(1) Any officer who on the effective date of this Act is an officer of the Army or Navy in the Medical or Dental Corps of his armed force, an officer of the Air Force designated as a medical or dental officer, or an officer of the Public Health Service commissioned as a medical or dental officer is entitled to include in the years of service creditable to him for the computation of basic pay and retired pay the years of service creditable to him for such purposes under clauses (7) and (8) of section 205(a) of title 37, United States Code, as in effect on the day before the effective date of this Act.

    (2) Any person who on the day before the effective date of this Act was enrolled in the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences under chapter 104 of this title or the Armed Forces Health Professions Scholarship Program under chapter 105 of this title and who on or after the effective date of this Act graduates from such university or completes such program, as the case may be, and is appointed in one of the categories specified in paragraph (1) is entitled to include in the years of service creditable to him for the computation of basic pay and retired pay the years of service that would have been credited to him under clauses (7) and (8) of section 205(a) of title 37, United States Code, as in effect on the day before the effective date of this Act, had such clauses not been repealed by this Act.

    94 Stat. at 2951-52. It is undisputed that the plaintiff class, all of whom were participants in the Scholarship Program prior to September 15, 1981, but who were not or will not be appointed officers of the PHS Commissioned Corps until after that date, are not within the express terms of this saving provision.

  2. This Lawsuit

    According to the affidavits and exhibits submitted on their motion for summary judgment, class representatives Michael S. Hahn and B. Shay Bradley became participants in the Scholarship Program in May of 1978, as they prepared to enter four-year

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    dental programs that fall. At that time officers of the PHS Commissioned Corps were still entitled to constructive service credit. Though the form contract they signed contained no provisions relating to compensation, each received a pamphlet stating that officers of the PHS Commissioned Corps would be entitled to constructive service credit. Each was advised by representatives of the NHS Corps, in on-campus meetings during 1980, that they would receive the four-year constructive service credit upon becoming officers of the PHS Commissioned Corps. On May 24, 1982, after he was appointed a dental officer in the PHS Commissioned Corps and more than eight months after the effective date of DOPMA, Hahn received a "Pay Information Fact Sheet" from the Public Health Service that stated that dental officers would receive four years constructive service credit for their professional education. Upon graduation from dental school in 1982, Hahn owed two years of obligated service and Bradley owed four years. Neither has received constructive service credit in the calculation of basic pay. Each alleges that as a result of the denial of constructive service credit, their annual basic pay is approximately $5,500 less than they would have otherwise received.

    Hahn and Bradley filed this suit on November 18, 1982, on their behalf and on behalf of all others similarly situated, seeking declaratory, injunctive, and monetary relief. Their complaint was in three counts, the first two alleging that DOPMA's repeal of the constructive service credit violated the fifth amendment as applied to them in that it was impermissibly retroactive and that the saving provision was arbitrary and discriminatory. The third count alleged that the government breached its contract with the plaintiffs in denying them the constructive service credit they had expected to receive.

    By order dated May 3, 1983 the district court certified a plaintiff class consisting of "[a]ll persons who were participants in the National Health Service Corps Scholarship Program prior to September 15, 1981, and who are or were commissioned medical or dental officers of the United States Public Health Service after September 15, 1981." Cross-motions for summary judgment were filed, and on November 7, 1983 the court entered judgment for the...

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