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Forget to state your claim and you could lose your case

The legal world can be tricky. There are very specific rules to follow and a failure to follow those rules can result in you losing your case — even if based on the merits and facts of the case it is clear you should have won.

A recent case provides an example.

The case involves a federal employee who was under investigation for misconduct. The investigation took less than a year, but the government agency responsible for the employee took over three years to act on the information gathered from the investigation. After this substantial amount of time had passed, the federal employer decided to dismiss the employee from his position. Due to the delay, the employee argued that the employer’s decision to fire him was improper.

The worker had a number of arguments to support this claim. The court reviewed the arguments and all failed on appeal but one, a constitutional challenge that the employer’s delay was a due process violation.

The court of appeals recognized this was a strong argument. The court explained that the argument would likely have won the case. However, since the worker failed to state this argument in the lower court it could not be made on appeal. As such, the court of appeals found in favor of the government agency.

The error is frustrating, but provides a valuable lesson to other federal employees in similar situations: review your claims carefully before moving forward with your lawsuit. Although it is not advisable to bring all possible claims it is wise to bring all claims that provide a strong argument in favor of your case. A failure to do so could waive the ability to bring the claim in the future.

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