Corder v. U.S., 96-1448

Decision Date24 February 1997
Docket NumberNo. 96-1448,96-1448
Citation107 F.3d 595
PartiesMary CORDER, doing business as Corder Convenience Store, Inc., dba 7-Eleven 27472B, Appellant, v. UNITED STATES of America, Appellee.
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Eighth Circuit

Page 595

107 F.3d 595
Mary CORDER, doing business as Corder Convenience Store,
Inc., dba 7-Eleven 27472B, Appellant,
v.
UNITED STATES of America, Appellee.
No. 96-1448.
United States Court of Appeals,
Eighth Circuit.
Submitted Nov. 26, 1996.
Decided Feb. 24, 1997.

Page 596

Mary Corder, appellant, pro se.

Eric T. Tolen, Asst. U.S. Atty., St. Louis, MO, for appellee.

Before BOWMAN, MAGILL, and LOKEN, Circuit Judges.

LOKEN, Circuit Judge.

Mary Corder owns a small 7-Eleven food store in St. Louis. In August 1994, an employee working alone at the store on three occasions exchanged a total of $305 in cash for $610 in food stamp coupons offered by a Department of Agriculture investigator. The Department's Food and Consumer Service (FCS) then charged Corder with illegal trafficking in violation of the Food Stamp Program. See 7 U.S.C. §§ 2021, 2024(b)(1); 7 C.F.R. §§ 271.2, 278.2(a). Corder requested that she be assessed a civil monetary penalty in lieu of permanent disqualification from the Program. FCS determined that Corder meets the criteria for a monetary penalty set forth in 7 C.F.R. § 278.6(i) and imposed the maximum penalty authorized by statute, $40,000. Corder commenced this action seeking judicial review of the sanction. The district court granted FCS summary judgment, and Corder appeals. Concluding that the formula used to determine this monetary penalty is arbitrary and capricious, at least as applied to Corder, we reverse.

Congress has dealt harshly with food stamp traffickers--those who barter food stamps for cash, guns, drugs, or other ineligible consideration. Prior to 1988, 7 U.S.C. § 2021(b)(3) mandated permanent disqualification of first offenders, a sanction so harsh--because of its devastating impact on

Page 597

stores doing business in low income neighborhoods--that reviewing courts struggled with the question whether innocent store owners should be liable for employee trafficking. In 1988, Congress amended the statute, authorizing FCS to impose a monetary penalty in lieu of permanent disqualification in carefully limited circumstances. 7 U.S.C. § 2021(b)(3)(B) (1988). The legislative history clarified that innocent store owners are liable, while recognizing the need for a less harsh monetary sanction in some cases:

The permanent disqualification of retail food stores upon the first trafficking offense--without any evaluation of preventive measures taken or complicity in the trafficking--seems excessively harsh.

* * * * * *

The Committee expects [FCS] to continue to vigorously pursue and punish those perpetrators involved in food stamp fraud, including store personnel and owners that are culpable or negligent with respect to trafficking offenses.... However, innocent persons should not be subject to the harsh penalty of disqualification where a store or concern has undertaken and implemented an effective program and policy to prevent violations.

* * * * * *

With Secretarial discretion, we can be assured that the punishment will more closely fit the crime.

H.R.Rep. No. 100-828, pt.1 at 27-28 (1988). See generally Ghattas v. United States, 40 F.3d 281 (8th Cir.1994); Freedman v. United States Dep't of Agric., 926 F.2d 252, 255-59 (3d Cir.1991).

In this case, it is undisputed that Corder timely requested and met the criteria for the alternative monetary sanction. She submitted substantial evidence that she was neither aware of nor benefitted from the...

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  • 7-Eleven #22360 v. United States
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Maryland
    • July 1, 2021
    ...of disqualification for trafficking violations to the discretion of the Secretary of USDA (the "Secretary"). See Corder v. United States , 107 F.3d 595 (8th Cir. 1997) (discussing statutory history of Food Stamp Program); Ghattas v. United States , 40 F.3d 281, 283-84 (8th Cir. 1994) (same)......
  • Juan E. Burgos Arias & Townsend Deli Grocery Corp. v. U.S. & Tom Vilsack
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Southern District of New York
    • September 29, 2014
    ...the fourth criterion, but they fail to offer any documentation or other evidence to support this assertion. Cf. Corder v. United States, 107 F.3d 595, 597 (8th Cir. 1997) (civil monetary penalty imposed where firm owner submitted statement from employee that he accepted benefits without own......
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    • August 18, 2022
    ... ... of USDA (the “Secretary”). See Corder v ... United States, ... 107 F.3d 595 (8th Cir. 1997) (discussing statutory history ... : “Consideration has ... been given to the information available to us relating to our ... letter of charges dated August 12, 2020, and to your reply of ... ...
  • 7-Eleven v. United States
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    • U.S. District Court — District of Maryland
    • July 1, 2021
    ...of disqualification for trafficking violations to the discretion of the Secretary of USDA (the "Secretary"). See Corder v. United States, 107 F.3d 595 (8th Cir. 1997) (discussing statutory history of Food Stamp Program); Ghattas v. United States, 40 F.3d 281, 283-84 (8th Cir. 1994) (same); ......
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