Modoc Lassen Indian Housing v. DOHUD, No. 14-1313 (10th Cir. 2017)Annotate this Case
Consolidated appeals arose from a government agency’s decision to recapture via administrative offset funds that the agency allegedly overpaid to multiple grant recipients. The grant recipients filed suit arguing in relevant part that the agency lacked authority to recapture the funds without first providing them with administrative hearings. The district court agreed and ordered the agency to repay the grant recipients. The agency appealed that order. The issues the appeal raised for the Tenth Circuit's review were: (1) did the agency recapture the funds pursuant to a statute or regulation that imposed a hearing requirement, thus rendering the recaptures illegal; (2) if the agency didn’t recapture the funds pursuant to such a statute or regulation, did it have authority to recapture the alleged overpayments at all; and (3) if not, must the agency reimburse the grant recipients for the amounts it illegally collected? The Court found the agency didn’t recapture the funds pursuant to a statute or regulation that imposes a hearing requirement, therefore, the district court erred in ruling that the recipients were entitled to hearings before the agency could recapture the alleged overpayments. Two members of the panel agreed the agency lacked authority to recapture the funds via administrative offset, and the Court affirmed the portion of the district court’s order that characterized the recaptures as illegal. The two other members of the panel agreed that if the agency no longer had the recaptured funds in its possession, then the district court lacked authority to order the agency to repay the recipients. Thus, the Court reversed that portion of the district court’s order and remanded for further factual findings.