Judicial Appeal of a SNAP Disqualification

Judicial Appeal of a SNAP Disqualification

Filing a Judicial Appeal when you have been disqualified from the USDA SNAP program is your last line of defense after your EBT machine gets shut off.  To arrive at this stage, you will have already had your SNAP Violation Letter and gone through the administrative appeal process with the Department’s Division of Administrative Review.  Nonetheless, this may be your most hopeful opportunity to mitigate the damage that has already been caused to your store, and to revive your EBT business again.

 

Why Work With Us to Litigate Your USDA SNAP Case?

We have seen in our experience that numerous store proprietors choose to have local attorneys deal with their USDA SNAP Violation issues.  Though local attorneys want to help them in earnest, the USDA SNAP administrative program is a highly specialized, distinct and convoluted area of the law.  Lawyers who lack experience in this area may make mistakes in SNAP cases without having any idea how they steered their client wrong, and without you ever becoming aware.

 

Our legal team at BLG has worked arduously since the United States Congress reauthorized the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in 2014 to get this new legislation under our belts so we can represent your needs with expertise.  The staff of attorneys here have dealt with many federal appeals of USDA SNAP disqualifications and are well acquainted with the positions and strategies regularly employed by the USDA in court.  Furthermore, our retailers benefit from our breadth of experience in anticipating the Department’s tactics and arguments, and figuring out early where the USDA’s case against them is the weakest. For example, if you sell dab rigs, or sell liquor from your liquor store, you could be accused of SNAP Fraud. 

 

Fewer than a small number of law firms in the United States are as skilled as we are in handling USDA SNAP regulatory law, and of those (whose information is readily available) our lawyers have by far the most experience and place the most focus on retailer representation.

 

What Exactly is a USDA SNAP Judicial Appeal?

A USDA SNAP Judicial Appeal is a lawsuit that you can file on behalf of your retail store against the United States Department of Agriculture under 7 CFR §279 and 7 USC §2023 to appeal the Final Determination of the Administrative Review Division that your business must be permanently disqualified from SNAP (most often on trafficking charges).  Judicial Appeals work just like regular civil litigation, just with the additional complication of having the United States of American as the defendant.

 

These kinds of lawsuits have three phases:

 

  1. Pleading Phase:  In this phase, we file our complaint in the district court against the United States in the State in which your grocery store does business. When  The United States responds to our allegations after sixty days with an Answer or a Motion to Dismiss (depending upon the details of our case).  Customarily, this part of the litigation can take as much as eighty days to complete, allowing time for service of process and normal procedural delays.
  2. Discovery/Motion Phase:  We round up all of the evidence that is relevant to your case and assemble the motions that we will use to get the case moving along or potentially even get it resolved faster.  The motions we use most frequently include 
    1. a Motion to Abate Disqualification – an effort to reverse your suspension during the period the litigation progresses and 
    2. a Motion for Summary Judgment – in which we request that the Court consider the undisputed evidence and enter an order in our favor based on the pleadings (also an effort to conclude the case quicker).
  3. Trial Phase: This phase of the litigation is the culmination of all of the work you have done since the day you received the SNAP Violation letter in the mail months before.  Even though the trial is only before a judge (there is no jury allowed for these trials under the regulations or the United States Code), the judge may hear the case in the same manner and procedure in which all normal trials occur.  The details of your business and the allegations charged by the USDA are considered by the judge to help them arrive at a determination as to whether or not he or she agrees with the USDA that you violated the SNAP regulations at your store.

 

After the USDA SNAP Judicial Appeal

If it so happens that the judicial appeal delivers us an unfavorable decision, a grocer can appeal that decision to the circuit court of appeals where appellate judges will be able to review the evidence, the decision entered by the judge and the process through which your EBT retailer status has been revoked.  In the event that the circuit court of appeals does not agree with the store’s position, or if the appellate court decides to uphold the entire disqualification or suspension, then the United States Supreme Court can have final say.

 

The majority of cases never make it even as far as the circuit court of appeals.  Nevertheless, our office aims to thoroughly advise you of your options throughout our representation in a meaningful and complete way.

 

How to Retain Us for your SNAP Judicial Appeal

Act fast before your rights run out!  There may be only a matter of days before your appeal deadline expires, so don’t delay in contacting us to set up a consultation at your earliest convenience.