A child succumbs to paralysis after a routine vaccine shot. A Native American tribe learns it’s being cheated out of proceeds from oil wells located on its land. A defense contractor nearly goes bankrupt after the government refuses to pay for a shipment of planes.

That’s a day in the life of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, which has the unique mandate of presiding over nothing but cases against the United States. It’s at once the nation’s most neglected and politically charged court. Just a block from the White House, the court’s judges conduct their business in relative anonymity — despite the big-ticket cases that hum along throughout the sedate building.

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