Case: Hara v. Office of Personnel Management

09-03134 | No Court

Filed Date: 2009

Closed Date: 2013

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

Dean Hara, the appellant in this suit, is the widower of his legal same-sex spouse in Massachusetts (U.S. Congressman Gerry Studds, who died in October 2006). He filed two separate applications with the Office of Personnel Management (OPM); the first, seeking a survivor annuity benefit, and the second seeking to be enrolled as a surviving spouse for health benefits under the Congressman's Federal Employees' Health Benefit Plan. OPM denied coverage, on two bases: first, because of the Defens…

Dean Hara, the appellant in this suit, is the widower of his legal same-sex spouse in Massachusetts (U.S. Congressman Gerry Studds, who died in October 2006). He filed two separate applications with the Office of Personnel Management (OPM); the first, seeking a survivor annuity benefit, and the second seeking to be enrolled as a surviving spouse for health benefits under the Congressman's Federal Employees' Health Benefit Plan. OPM denied coverage, on two bases: first, because of the Defense of Marriage Act's ban on federal recognition of same-sex marriages, the plaintiff did not count as a "spouse," and second, Congressman Studds had not elected the sought coverage.

Hara obtained review of the first denial (of annuitant status) by the Merit Systems Protection Board; the Board upheld OPM's denial of coverage, but solely because of DOMA; the Board found that Congressman Studds' failure to elect coverage did not bar annuitant status. Plaintiff appealed to the Federal Circuit. The second denial (of FEHBP health enrollment) is also subject to the Federal Circuit's review.

Meanwhile, Hara was also one of several named plaintiffs in a U.S. District Court case in the District of Massachusetts, Gill v. Office of Personnel Management (PB-MA-0006 in this Clearinghouse), which asserted that DOMA violated the Equal Protection Clause. The Court stayed proceedings in this case pending the outcome of Gill. The Court of Appeals agreed with the Gill plaintiffs that DOMA is unconstitutional; the U.S. Supreme Court denied certiorari.

On July 26, 2013, the plaintiff moved that the Court vacate the Merit System Protection Board's decision affirming the decision of OPM to deny the plaintiff spousal benefits and remand the matter to the Board for proceeding consistent with the Supreme Court's decision in Windsor.

On September 16, 2013, the Court issued a mandate granting the motion to vacate the earlier decision of the Merit System Protection Board and remanded to the Board for further proceedings. Shortly thereafter Hara and OPM began settlement discussions. OPM rescinded its decision from 2008 and granted Hara survivor annuity benefits. At the end of April 2014, both OPM and Hara filed for the Merit System Protection Board to dismiss the case. The Board complied, noting in its order that Hara could could still request consideration if dissatisfied with subsequent OPM decisions.

Summary Authors

Darren Miller (11/26/2012)

Claire Lally (3/15/2015)

Carolyn Weltman (2/14/2016)

Related Cases

Gill v. Office of Personnel Management, District of Massachusetts (2009)

People


Judge(s)

Newman, Pauline (District of Columbia)

O'Malley, Kathleen McDonald (Ohio)

Tauro, Joseph Louis (Massachusetts)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Anderson, Stacy (Massachusetts)

Bickett, Samuel P. (Massachusetts)

Bonauto, Mary L. (Massachusetts)

Buseck, Gary D. (Massachusetts)

Deneke, Catherine C. (Massachusetts)

Eshghi, Nima R (Massachusetts)

Halmkin, William E. (Massachusetts)

Judge(s)

Newman, Pauline (District of Columbia)

O'Malley, Kathleen McDonald (Ohio)

Tauro, Joseph Louis (Massachusetts)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Anderson, Stacy (Massachusetts)

Bickett, Samuel P. (Massachusetts)

Bonauto, Mary L. (Massachusetts)

Buseck, Gary D. (Massachusetts)

Deneke, Catherine C. (Massachusetts)

Eshghi, Nima R (Massachusetts)

Halmkin, William E. (Massachusetts)

Harris, Cathy A. (District of Columbia)

Henry, Vickie L. (Massachusetts)

Jones, Richard L. (Massachusetts)

Laporte, Claire (Massachusetts)

Miller, Matthew E. (Massachusetts)

Nagle, David J. (Massachusetts)

Senier, Amy (Massachusetts)

Smith, Paul M. (District of Columbia)

Wu, Janson (Massachusetts)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Goldberg, Arthur Robert (District of Columbia)

Loucks, Michael K. (District of Columbia)

Simpson, W. Scott (District of Columbia)

Stern, Hillary A. (District of Columbia)

West, Tony (District of Columbia)

Other Attorney(s)

Moran, Philip D. (Massachusetts)

Expert/Monitor/Master

Sorokin, Leo Theodore (Massachusetts)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

09-03134

Docket [Federal Circuit]

U. S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit

Sept. 16, 2013

Sept. 16, 2013

Docket

09-03134

Order

U. S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit

May 18, 2009

May 18, 2009

Order/Opinion
18

1:09-cv-10309

First Amended Complaint

U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts

July 31, 2009

July 31, 2009

Complaint
65

1:09-cv-10309

2nd Amend. Complaint

U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts

May 25, 2010

May 25, 2010

Complaint
89

1:09-cv-10309

Opinion of the USCA

U. S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit

May 31, 2012

May 31, 2012

Order/Opinion

09-03134

Order

U. S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit

Sept. 16, 2013

Sept. 16, 2013

Order/Opinion

08-00831

Order [Remanding Appeal to Office of Personnel Management]

April 30, 2014

April 30, 2014

Order/Opinion

Docket

Last updated May 11, 2022, 8 p.m.

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

Case Details

State / Territory: Massachusetts

Case Type(s):

Public Benefits/Government Services

Special Collection(s):

Same-Sex Marriage

Key Dates

Filing Date: 2009

Closing Date: 2013

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

Widower of a U.S. Congressman, lawfully married under Massachusetts law.

Attorney Organizations:

GLAD (GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders)

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: No

Class Action Outcome: Not sought

Defendants

Office of Personnel Management, Federal

United States, Federal

Case Details

Constitutional Clause(s):

Equal Protection

Special Case Type(s):

Out-of-court

Availably Documents:

Complaint (any)

Any published opinion

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Source of Relief:

Litigation

Issues

General:

Gay/lesbian/transgender

Marriage

Public benefits (includes, e.g., in-state tuition, govt. jobs)

Discrimination-basis:

Sex discrimination

Sexual orientatation