Washoe County v. Otto

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Justia Opinion Summary

In March 2006, the Washoe County Board of Equalization adjusted the property tax values of approximately 300 Incline Village and Crystal Bay taxpayers based on a determination that those properties' taxable values had been improperly assessed. The County Board determined that rolling back the 300 properties' taxable values had created an unequal rate of taxation for the 2006-2007 tax year and acted to fix the error. The Washoe County Assessor administratively appealed the equalization decision to the State Board of Equalization, but the State Board did not immediately consider the appeal because this court had imposed a stay temporarily enjoining the rollbacks pending a decision in a related appeal concerning the assessment methods. After the State Board ruled on Washoe County's motion, the Assessor made several objections to the taxpayers' involvement in the proceedings. Pertinent to this appeal, the Assessor argued that: (1) The Village League to Save Incline Assets, Inc., did not have standing to appear on behalf of any of the taxpayers; (2) any taxpayer not represented by counsel, absent from the State Board proceedings without an excuse, or represented by Village League should not be recognized as a party; and (3) none of the 300 taxpayers who previously obtained rollbacks should be recognized as parties. The issue before the Supreme Court pertained to the Nevada Administrative Procedure Act (APA) requirement that a petitioner name, as respondents to a petition for judicial review of an administrative decision, "all parties of record." Upon review, the Supreme Court concluded that a party must strictly comply with the APA naming requirement as a prerequisite to invoking the district court's jurisdiction. Thus, when a petitioner fails to name in its petition each party of record to the underlying administrative proceedings, the petition is jurisdictionally defective and must be dismissed. Further, if the petitioner fails to invoke the district court's jurisdiction by naming the proper parties within the statutory time limit, the petition may not subsequently be amended to cure the jurisdictional defect.