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Maniilaq Ass'n v. Burwell - 72 F. Supp. 3d 227 (D.D.C. 2014)


The purpose of the requirement in 42 C.F.R. § 137.132 that a "final offer" be "clearly identified" as such is to put the Indian Health Service ("IHS") on notice that the 45 day statutory clock is ticking. A letter sent to IHS from a proposed lessee may satisfy § 137.132 where the content of the letter and the context in which it was sent make it sufficiently clear that the lessee intended that the letter be a final offer in such a way that IHS could not credibly claim to have been taken by surprise.


Maniilaq sought to enter into a new lease with IHS for a certain clinic, pursuant to statute. After negotiations stalled, Maniilaq sent IHS a letter describing the parties' negotiations and proposing that IHS enter into a 25 U.S.C.S. § 450j(l)(1) lease for the clinic. Attached to the letter was a copy of the proposed lease. The letter stated: Enclosed please find a proposed lease for the Ambler Clinic, submitted in accordance with the final offer provisions of Section 507 of the ISDEAA, 25 U.S.C.S. § 458aaa-6." The lease was to be incorporated into Maniilaq's 2013 FA, and would be renewable at the option of either party. Fifty-eight days later, IHS responded and took the position that it did not agree that the lease proposal in Maniilaq's offer could be submitted as a "final offer" under § 458aaa-6. Maniilaq filed a lawsuit in federal district court seeking a declaration that the lease for the clinic was incorporated into Maniilaq's 2013 funding agreement as a matter of law. The parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment.


Was Maniilaq entitled to summary judgment?




The court granted Maniilaq's motion for summary judgment and denied IHS' cross-motion. The Court found that the letter was identified with sufficient clarity to put IHS on notice that the letter was intended as a final offer, and that IHS was in fact on notice of Maniilaq's intentions. The court further found the proposed lease of the clinic was included in Maniilaq's 2013 FA by operation of law.



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