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United States Court of Federal Claims

The United States Court of Federal Claims (in case citations, Fed. Cl. or C.F.C.) is a United States federal court that hears monetary claims against the U.S. government. It is the direct successor to the United States Court of Claims, which was founded in 1855, and is therefore a revised version of one of the oldest federal courts in the country.

The jurisdiction of the United States Court of Federal Claims is currently codified in 28 U.S.C. § 1491. The court is established pursuant to Congress's authority under Article One of the United States Constitution. Unlike judges of courts established under Article Three of the United States Constitution, judges on the Court of Federal Claims do not have life tenure (see Article I and Article III tribunals). Instead they serve for 15-year terms[1] and are eligible for reappointment. The President appoints the judges of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims with the Senate's advice and consent.[2] The judges are removable by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit for "incompetency, misconduct, neglect of duty, engaging in the practice of law, or physical or mental disability." [3]

The courthouse of the Court of Federal Claims is situated in the Howard T. Markey National Courts Building (on Madison Place across from the White House) in Washington, D.C..


  • History 1
  • Jurisdiction 2
    • Congressional references 2.1
  • Judges 3
    • Current judges 3.1
  • Vacancies and pending nominations 4
    • Past judges 4.1
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • Bibliography 7
  • Further reading 8
  • External links 9


The Federal Courts Improvement Act of 1982 created the modern Court and, in 1992 the Claims Court name was changed to 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.[4] The National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 gave the court the authority to create an Office of Special Masters to receive and hear certain vaccine injury cases, and the jurisdiction to review those cases.[5] On October 28, 1992, the name of the court was changed to the United States Court of Federal Claims.[6]

Though a provision of the Administrative Dispute Resolution Act of 1996 gave the Court of Federal Claims and U.S. districts courts concurrent jurisdiction over post-award protests, subsequent legislation provided that, as of January 2001, that the United States Court of Federal Claims would be the exclusive judicial forum for bid protest litigation.

In 2006, the court rendered judgments in more than 900 cases and awarded $1.8 billion in damages.


United States Court of Federal Claims on Madison Place in Washington, D.C.

The court has special jurisdiction, spelled out in 28 U.S.C. § 1491: it hears claims for monetary damages[7] that arise from the United States Constitution, federal statutes, executive regulations, or an express or implied in fact contract with the United States Government, most notably under the Tucker Act. The court has concurrent jurisdiction with U.S. district courts, when the claim is for less than $10,000, by the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 1346. Claims have a statute of limitations of six years from the time the claim first accrues.[8] 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 CFC 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.[9]

All trials at the court are bench trials, without juries. Because the court only hears cases against the Government, the United States is always the defendant in cases before the CFC.

The court receives a variety of claims against the government, including breach of contract claims, illegal exaction claims, takings claims under the 5th Amendment, claims involving military pay, claims for patent and copyright infringement against the government, federal tax refund claims, and protests regarding contract bidding procedures. According to the Court, tax refund suits make up a quarter of the claims brought before it, although the court exercises concurrent jurisdiction with United States district courts in this area.

Orders and judgments from the court are appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which resides in the same building as the CFC.

Congressional references

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.[10]


Current judges

Judge Duty Station Born Appointed Chief Senior Appointed by
Patricia E. Campbell-Smith Washington 1966 2013–present 2013–Present[11] —— Obama (as judge and Chief Judge)
Marian Blank Horn Washington 1943 1986
—— —— Reagan
G.W. Bush
Lawrence J. Block Washington 1951 2002–present —— —— G.W. Bush
Susan G. Braden Washington 1948 2003–present —— —— G.W. Bush
Charles F. Lettow Washington 1941 2003–present —— —— G.W. Bush
Mary Ellen Coster Williams Washington 1953 2003–present —— —— G.W. Bush
Victor J. Wolski Washington 1962 2003–present —— —— G.W. Bush
Margaret M. Sweeney Washington —— 2005–present —— —— G.W. Bush
Thomas C. Wheeler Washington 1948 2005–present —— —— G.W. Bush
Elaine D. Kaplan Washington 1955 2013–present —— —— Obama
Lydia Kay Griggsby Washington 1968 2015–present —— —— Obama
Vacant Washington —— 2014–present —— —— ——
Vacant Washington —— 2014–present —— —— ——
Vacant Washington —— 2014–present —— —— ——
Vacant Washington —— 2014–present —— —— ——
Vacant Washington —— 2014–present —— —— ——
Eric G. Bruggink Washington 1949 1986–2001 —— 2001–present Reagan
John Paul Wiese Washington 1934 1982–2001 —— 2001–present Reagan
James F. Merow Washington 1932 1982–1998 —— 1998–present Reagan
Francis M. Allegra Washington 1957 1998–2013 —— 2013–present Clinton
Lynn J. Bush Washington 1948 1998–2013 —— 2013–present Clinton
Edward J. Damich Washington 1948 1998–2013 2002–2009 2013–present Clinton (Judge)
Bush (Chief Judge)
Nancy B. Firestone Washington 1951 1998–2013 —— 2013–present Clinton

Vacancies and pending nominations

Seat last held by Vacancy reason Date of vacancy Nominee Date of nomination
Lynn J. Bush Senior Status October 21, 2013 Thomas L. Halkowski April 10, 2014
Emily C. Hewitt Retirement October 21, 2013 Patricia M. McCarthy May 21, 2014
Edward J. Damich Retirement October 21, 2013 Armando Omar Bonilla May 21, 2014
Nancy B. Firestone Senior Status October 21, 2013 Nancy B. Firestone (reappointment) April 10, 2014
George W. Miller Retirement ???? Jeri Kaylene Somers May 21, 2014

Past judges

See also


  1. ^ 28 U.S.C. § 172
  2. ^ 28 U.S.C. § 171
  3. ^ 28 U.S.C. § 176(a)
  4. ^ (§105, §165 & §167, Federal Courts Improvement Act of 1982, P.L. 97-164, 96 Stat. 25, 50).
  5. ^ 42 U.S.C. § 300aa-12
  6. ^ Court History Brochure
  7. ^ Gregory C. Sisk, Michael F. Noone, Litigation with the Federal Government (2006), p. 246: "Even today, the traditional money claim under the Tucker Act remains the grist for the Court of Federal Claims mill. The Court of Federal Claims does not have general authority to grant equitable remedies, such as injunctions or specific performance in contract".
  8. ^ 28 U.S.C. § 2501
  9. ^ 28 USC § 2505: "Any judge of the United States Court of Federal Claims may sit at any place within the United States to take evidence and enter judgment".
  10. ^ 28 U.S.C. § 1492, 28 U.S.C. § 2509
  11. ^ "President Obama Designates Judge Patricia E. Campbell-Smith to Serve as Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims". The White House. Office of the Press Secretary. Retrieved 13 January 2014. 


  • The United States Court of Federal Claims handbook and procedures manual by David B. Stinson. 2nd ed. Washington, D.C.: Bar Association of the District of Columbia, 2003.
  • The United States Court of Federal Claims : a deskbook for practitioners by United States Court of Federal Claims Bar Association. 4th ed. Washington, D.C.: The Bar Association, 1998.

Further reading

  • The Jurisdiction of the Court of Federal Claims and Forum Shopping in Monitary Claims Against the Federal Government

External links

  • Website of the United States Court of Federal Claims
  • Papers of Franklin M. Stone, former judge, U.S. Court of Claims, Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library
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