Court Dismisses PPACA Lawsuit

July 22, 2013 ( – A federal appeals court dismissed a lawsuit challenging provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.

In the case of Liberty University, Inc. v. Lew, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld an earlier ruling by the U.S. District Court for the District of Virginia to dismiss the lawsuit and upheld the constitutionality of the PPACA provision the plaintiffs were suing over.

Liberty University, a Virginia college, had filed the suit, in cooperation with others, to challenge the individual and employer mandates of the PPACA (“High Court Revives University’s Health Law Challenge”). The individual mandate calls for individuals to purchase a minimum level of health insurance coverage, while the employer mandate requires certain employers to offer such coverage to their employees and their dependents.

The appeals court supported this decision by citing the district’s court’s reference to Liberty University, Inc. v. Geithner, which had previously established that the plaintiffs had failed to state a claim. On this point, the appeals court also cited E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. v. Kolon Industries, Inc.

The plaintiffs argued in post-remand briefs that the PPACA violated their religious rights with regard to group health plans covering all FDA-approved contraceptive methods. The appeals court also pointed to the fact, however, that the plaintiffs’ second amended complaint does not mention the relevant portions of the law nor does it mention contraception.

The court added, "The plaintiffs did not challenge these regulations, or make any argument related to contraception…in the district court, in their first appeal before us, or in their Supreme Court briefs."

The court contended that once the PPACA was passed, the plaintiffs tried to retroactively make their lawsuit apply to other parts of the law that they took issue with. However, said the court, "a new implementing regulation cannot become a vehicle for converting plaintiffs' lawsuit into a challenge to the new regulation when a challenge to that regulation would raise substantially different legal issues from the arguments already propounded in the lawsuit." They cited Phillips v. McLaughlin and Kinney v. District of Columbia in support of this.

Due to the fact that the plaintiffs later arguments do not match up with the challenges included in the original lawsuit or the amended documents to that suit, the appeals court found that the plaintiffs therefore did not state a claim, leading to the dismissal of the case.

The full text of the appeals court decision can be found here.