West Virginia Ass'n of Community Health Centers, Inc. v. Heckler, No. 83-2113

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
Writing for the CourtBefore WRIGHT, BORK and STARR; STARR
Citation236 U.S.App.D.C. 287,734 F.2d 1570
Decision Date18 May 1984
Docket NumberNo. 83-2113
PartiesWEST VIRGINIA ASSOCIATION OF COMMUNITY HEALTH CENTERS, INC., et al., Appellants v. Margaret M. HECKLER, Secretary, Health & Human Services.

Page 1570

734 F.2d 1570
236 U.S.App.D.C. 287
WEST VIRGINIA ASSOCIATION OF COMMUNITY HEALTH CENTERS, INC.,
et al., Appellants
v.
Margaret M. HECKLER, Secretary, Health & Human Services.
No. 83-2113.
United States Court of Appeals,
District of Columbia Circuit.
Argued March 9, 1984.
Decided May 18, 1984.

Page 1572

Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of columbia.

James L. Feldesman, Washington, D.C., with whom Jacqueline C. Leifer, Washington, D.C., was on the brief, for appellants.

Edward R. Cohen, Washington, D.C., of the Bar of the Supreme Court of New York, pro hac vice, by special leave of the Court, with whom Richard K. Willard, Acting Asst. Atty. Gen., Joseph E. diGenova, U.S. Atty., and Anthony J. Steinmeyer, Atty. Dept. of Justice, Washington, D.C., were on the brief, for appellee.

Before WRIGHT, BORK and STARR, Circuit Judges.

Opinion for the Court filed by Circuit Judge STARR.

STARR, Circuit Judge:

This case arises under a federal block grant statute which provides financial assistance to States to support the delivery of health services to needy populations. In appealing from the District Court's denial of a preliminary injunction, appellants ask this court to hold that the Secretary of Health and Human Services ("HHS") unlawfully calculated the amount of funding to which the State of West Virginia is entitled under the federal block grant program. We conclude that, while appellants have standing to assert their claims, the legal issues with respect to fiscal year 1983 funding are now moot, inasmuch as all such funds have been awarded and disbursed by the Secretary. For the reasons set forth below, we also decline to reach the merits of appellants' claims with respect to fiscal year 1984 funds. We do, however, retain jurisdiction over this case to ensure that these latter claims are subject to prompt appellate review.

I.

Appellants are the West Virginia Association of Community Health Centers, Inc. ("WVACHC") and the Mountaineer Family Health Plan, Inc. ("Mountaineer"). WVACHC is a nonprofit organization consisting of eleven of West Virginia's 22 community health centers ("CHC's"). 1 Mountaineer is an individual West Virginia CHC that belongs to WVACHC.

On September 8, 1983, with the expiration of fiscal year 1983 looming only three weeks away, appellants filed suit against the Secretary of HHS, seeking both a preliminary injunction and permanent relief. Appellants alleged that the formula adopted by the Secretary for awarding block grants to participating States under the Primary Care Block Grant ("PCBG") statute, 42 U.S.C. Sec. 300y, 2 unlawfully deprived the State of West Virginia of monies

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to which it was entitled. 3 The parties apparently agreed that if appellants' challenge to the Secretary's funding formula was sustained, West Virginia would be entitled to an additional $299,950 in fiscal year 1983 ("FY83") funding. See Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to Amend Complaint, at 1 n. 1 (filed with District Court Oct. 14, 1983) (seeking to amend complaint to reflect, inter alia, this mutual understanding). Appellants also sought relief against the Secretary's implementation of the challenged formula in FY84. It cannot be determined, however, what amount is at issue for the current fiscal year.

The District Court advised the parties at a hearing on September 30, 1983 that it would not grant a preliminary injunction as to FY83 funds; the court subsequently issued a formal order and accompanying memorandum opinion denying preliminary relief. WVACHC v. Heckler, C.A. No. 83-2651 (D.D.C. Oct. 17, 1983). The court grounded its holding upon its application of the four factors governing requests for interim, equitable relief in this Circuit. Memorandum Opinion at 7-14; see, e.g., Ambach v. Bell, 686 F.2d 974, 979 (D.C.Cir.1982) (per curiam) (citing Virginia Petroleum Jobbers Association v. FPC, 259 F.2d 921, 925 (D.C.Cir.1958) (per curiam)); National Association of Farmworkers Organizations v. Marshall, 628 F.2d 604, 613 (D.C.Cir.1980); Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Commission v. Holiday Tours, Inc., 559 F.2d 841, 843 (D.C.Cir.1977).

The initial factor considered by the District Court was appellants' likelihood of success. Memorandum Opinion at 7-12. After extensively analyzing the PCBG statutory scheme, the court concluded that the Secretary's allocation formula was a reasonable one that did not appear inconsistent with the statute. Id. at 11. The court thus held that appellants had not demonstrated a sufficient likelihood of success to warrant issuance of a preliminary injunction. Id. at 12.

The court's analysis of the remaining three factors buttressed its decision. In the District Court's view, appellants' claim of irreparable injury was speculative because they could not demonstrate that the Secretary's actions were actually causing a denial of additional funding that they otherwise would receive. Id. Furthermore, the court concluded that a preliminary injunction should not issue in light of the harm that would thereby be caused to CHC's outside West Virginia. Specifically, the court found that an award of increased funding to West Virginia could not be made without totally denying funding to two CHC's in Michigan and California. Id. at 13. Finally, the court held that the

Page 1574

issuance of a preliminary injunction would not serve the public interest. Id. at 14.

Appellants filed a timely notice of appeal and now seek reversal. We have jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. Sec. 1292(a)(1).

II.

A.

The threshold issue before us is whether appellants have standing to prosecute this action. In denying preliminary injunctive relief, the District Court specifically left this question open. We must nevertheless decide this issue, inasmuch as it bears fundamentally upon our jurisdiction to decide the case. See Village of Arlington Heights v. Metropolitan Housing Development Corp., 429 U.S. 252, 260, 97 S.Ct. 555, 560, 50 L.Ed.2d 450 (1977) (citing Jenkins v. McKeithen, 395 U.S. 411, 421, 89 S.Ct. 1843, 1848, 23 L.Ed.2d 404 (1969) (plurality opinion)).

To invoke federal jurisdiction, a party must show at a minimum that the challenged actions have caused it injury that is likely to be redressed by a favorable judicial decision. Valley Forge Christian College v. Americans United for Separation of Church and State, Inc., 454 U.S. 464, 472, 102 S.Ct. 752, 758, 70 L.Ed.2d 700 (1982). 4 The Secretary argues that appellants have not satisfied these requirements, inasmuch as they have failed to demonstrate that a judicial decision mandating an increase in West Virginia's PCBG funding would redound to their benefit. In this regard, the Secretary relies principally upon the fact that West Virginia would have complete discretion to award any additional funding it might receive to other CHC's within the State which are not parties to this lawsuit. In response to this line of reasoning, appellants argue that they have been injured by being denied an opportunity to compete for this increased funding, and that to have standing they need not demonstrate that they would actually receive the additional funding. 5 Our examination of applicable law mandates the conclusion that appellants do indeed have standing to sue.

The Supreme Court decision in Village of Arlington Heights v. Metropolitan Housing Development Corp., 429 U.S. 252, 97 S.Ct. 555, 50 L.Ed.2d 450 (1977), provides the logical starting point for this branch of our inquiry. In that case, a legal challenge was mounted against a local government's refusal to rezone a parcel of real estate to

Page 1575

permit a private development concern to construct a townhouse complex for low- and moderate-income tenants. The Court held that the development firm had standing to bring its challenge, even though there was no guarantee that the project would ultimately be built if the rezoning request were granted. Id. at 261-62, 97 S.Ct. at 561-562. But, importantly for our case, the Court also considered the standing of an individual plaintiff, because it was questionable whether the developer would be allowed to advance the claim that the rezoning refusal resulted from racial prejudice. In a holding that has direct bearing upon the present case, the Court stated:

[The individual plaintiff] works ... in Arlington Heights and lives approximately 20 miles away.... The complaint alleged that he seeks and would qualify for the housing MHDC wants to build in Arlington Heights. [The plaintiff] testified at trial that if [the proposed project] were built he would probably move there, since it is closer to his job.

The injury [the plaintiff] asserts is that his quest for housing nearer his employment has been thwarted by official action that is racially discriminatory. If a court grants the relief he seeks, there is at least a "substantial probability," that the [housing] project will materialize, affording [the plaintiff] the housing opportunity he desires in Arlington Heights. His is not a generalized grievance. Instead, ... it focuses on a particular project and is not dependent on speculation about the possible actions of third parties not before the court. * * * [The plaintiff] has adequately averred an "actionable causal relationship" between Arlington Heights' zoning practices and his asserted injury.

Id. at 264, 97 S.Ct. at 563 (citations omitted; emphasis added). The Court's language plainly indicates that the individual plaintiff's injury was the denial of an opportunity to obtain housing for which he would otherwise be qualified. Certainty of success in seeking to exploit that opportunity was not required. 6

The Supreme Court's treatment of standing in Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, 438 U.S. 265, 98 S.Ct. 2733, 57 L.Ed.2d 750 (1978), lends additional support to our conclusion. In Bakke, the Regents argued that a rejected medical school applicant did not have standing to challenge the...

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40 practice notes
  • King v. Bradley, No. 92 C 1564.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Northern District of Illinois)
    • 9 Agosto 1993
    ...support their argument,4 other cited appellate court cases do support it. In West Va. Ass'n of Community Health Centers v. Heckler, 734 F.2d 1570 (D.C.Cir.1984), for example, appellant community health centers in the State of West Virginia challenged the formula employed by the Secretary of......
  • Bullfrog Films, Inc. v. Wick, No. 86-6630
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • 17 Mayo 1988
    ...438 U.S. at 280 n. 14, 98 S.Ct. at 2743 n. 14; Preston, 734 F.2d at 1366; West Virginia Assn. of Community Health Centers v. Heckler, 734 F.2d 1570, 1576 (D.C.Cir.1984). 8 III. In the interests of judicial economy, the court should decide this case on non-constitutional grounds, if possible......
  • Natural Law Party of U.S. v. Federal Elec. Com'n, No. CIV. A. 98-1025(ESH).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • 28 Agosto 2000
    ...plaintiffs would actually have been elected but for the prohibition"); West Virginia Assoc. of Community Health Centers v. Heckler, 734 F.2d 1570 (D.C.Cir.1984) (Community health care centers had standing to challenge calculation of block grant funding because they were injured by deni......
  • Hotel & Restaurant Employees Union, Local 25 v. Attorney General, No. 84-5859
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • 12 Enero 1987
    ...as exclusive representative of those workers. 743 F.2d at 910. In West Virginia Ass'n of Community Health Centers, Inc. v. Heckler, 734 F.2d 1570, 1574 n. 4 (D.C.Cir.1984), we held that an association has standing to challenge the Secretary of HHS' formula for awarding block grants for prim......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
40 cases
  • King v. Bradley, No. 92 C 1564.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Northern District of Illinois)
    • 9 Agosto 1993
    ...support their argument,4 other cited appellate court cases do support it. In West Va. Ass'n of Community Health Centers v. Heckler, 734 F.2d 1570 (D.C.Cir.1984), for example, appellant community health centers in the State of West Virginia challenged the formula employed by the Secretary of......
  • Bullfrog Films, Inc. v. Wick, No. 86-6630
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • 17 Mayo 1988
    ...438 U.S. at 280 n. 14, 98 S.Ct. at 2743 n. 14; Preston, 734 F.2d at 1366; West Virginia Assn. of Community Health Centers v. Heckler, 734 F.2d 1570, 1576 (D.C.Cir.1984). 8 III. In the interests of judicial economy, the court should decide this case on non-constitutional grounds, if possible......
  • Natural Law Party of U.S. v. Federal Elec. Com'n, No. CIV. A. 98-1025(ESH).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • 28 Agosto 2000
    ...plaintiffs would actually have been elected but for the prohibition"); West Virginia Assoc. of Community Health Centers v. Heckler, 734 F.2d 1570 (D.C.Cir.1984) (Community health care centers had standing to challenge calculation of block grant funding because they were injured by deni......
  • Hotel & Restaurant Employees Union, Local 25 v. Attorney General, No. 84-5859
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • 12 Enero 1987
    ...as exclusive representative of those workers. 743 F.2d at 910. In West Virginia Ass'n of Community Health Centers, Inc. v. Heckler, 734 F.2d 1570, 1574 n. 4 (D.C.Cir.1984), we held that an association has standing to challenge the Secretary of HHS' formula for awarding block grants for prim......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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