Justia Weekly Opinion Summaries

Government & Administrative Law
September 2, 2022

Table of Contents

Domingo-Mendez v. Garland

Government & Administrative Law, Immigration Law

US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit

Rivera-Medrano v. Garland

Government & Administrative Law, Immigration Law

US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit

Duncan v. Governor of the Virgin Islands

Civil Procedure, Class Action, Government & Administrative Law, Tax Law

US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

Franciscan Alliance v. Becerra

Civil Procedure, Government & Administrative Law, Health Law

US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

Gripum, LLC v. United States Food and Drug Administration

Consumer Law, Drugs & Biotech, Government & Administrative Law

US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

NW AR Conservation Authority v. Crossland Heavy Contractors

Contracts, Government & Administrative Law, Government Contracts

US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

Sailboat Bend Sober Living, et al v. City of Fort Lauderdale, FL.

Government & Administrative Law, Real Estate & Property Law

US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit

State of Georgia, et al v. President of the United States, et al

Constitutional Law, Government & Administrative Law, Health Law

US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit

Everport Terminal Services Inc v. NLRB

Government & Administrative Law, Labor & Employment Law

US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

In re: National Nurses United

Government & Administrative Law, Labor & Employment Law

US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

NYC C.L.A.S.H., Inc. v. Marcia L. Fudge

Civil Procedure, Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, Government & Administrative Law, Real Estate & Property Law

US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

USA v. Honeywell International, Inc.

Corporate Compliance, Government & Administrative Law, Products Liability

US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

Viasat, Inc. v. FCC

Aerospace/Defense, Environmental Law, Government & Administrative Law

US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

Administrative Office of the Courts v. Abell Foundation

Government & Administrative Law

Maryland Court of Appeals

Becker v. Falls Road Community Ass'n

Government & Administrative Law, Real Estate & Property Law, Zoning, Planning & Land Use

Maryland Court of Appeals

Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Inc. v. CREG Westport I, LLC

Environmental Law, Government & Administrative Law, Real Estate & Property Law

Maryland Court of Appeals

Abner A. v. Mass. Interscholastic Athletic Ass'n

Education Law, Government & Administrative Law

Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court

Spann v. Minneapolis City Council

Government & Administrative Law

Minnesota Supreme Court

Mississippi Division of Medicaid v. Yalobusha County Nursing Home

Civil Procedure, Government & Administrative Law, Health Law, Public Benefits

Supreme Court of Mississippi

Mid America Agri Products v. Perkins County Bd. of Equalization

Government & Administrative Law, Real Estate & Property Law

Nebraska Supreme Court

Newfield Exploration Company, et al. v. North Dakota, et al.

Civil Procedure, Contracts, Energy, Oil & Gas Law, Government & Administrative Law, Government Contracts

North Dakota Supreme Court

Sholy v. Cass Cty. Comm'm

Government & Administrative Law, Tax Law

North Dakota Supreme Court

Schwartz v. King County

Civil Procedure, Government & Administrative Law, Personal Injury

Washington Supreme Court

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Government & Administrative Law Opinions

Domingo-Mendez v. Garland

Court: US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit

Docket: 21-1029

Opinion Date: August 31, 2022

Judge: William Joseph Kayatta, Jr.

Areas of Law: Government & Administrative Law, Immigration Law

The First Circuit denied Petitioner's petition for review of the ruling of the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) vacating the immigration judge's (IJ) decision granting Petitioner's application for cancellation of removal and ordering Petitioner removed, holding that the BIA did not commit reversible legal error.

Petitioner, a native and citizen of Guatemala, conceded that he was removable from the United States but sought cancellation of removal predicated on the impact his removal would have on his young children. The IJ granted the application, concluding that Petitioner established the requisite extreme hardship. The BIA reversed, holding that the IJ incorrectly concluded that the hardships presented were sufficient to satisfy the applicable standard. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that Petitioner failed to show that the BIA misconstrued or overlooked relevant evidence and that there was no evidence that the BIA applied an improper standard.

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Rivera-Medrano v. Garland

Court: US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit

Docket: 20-1667

Opinion Date: August 26, 2022

Judge: Kermit Victor Lipez

Areas of Law: Government & Administrative Law, Immigration Law

The First Circuit vacated the judgment the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) affirming the denial of Appellant's request for withholding of removal under 8 U.S.C. 1231(b)(3) and protection under the Convention Against Torture (CAT), 8 C.F.R. 1208. 16(c)-1208.18 and the denial of her motion to remand, holding that the BIA abused its discretion in denying Appellant's motion to remand.

Appellant, a citizen and native of El Salvador, pursued withholding of removal under 8 U.S.C. 1231(b)(3) and protection under the CAT. An immigration judge (IJ) denied Appellant's claims on the basis that she was not credible. On appeal, Appellant sought to, among other things, remand her case for consideration of new evidence that she claimed had not been previously available. The BIA upheld the IJ's adverse credibility finding and affirmed the denial of relief. The First Circuit vacated the BIA's decision and remanded the case, holding that the BIA abused its discretion in determining that the new evidence was not likely to change the result in this case.

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Duncan v. Governor of the Virgin Islands

Court: US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

Docket: 21-3024

Opinion Date: August 31, 2022

Judge: Jordan

Areas of Law: Civil Procedure, Class Action, Government & Administrative Law, Tax Law

In 2015, the Ninth Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of Guam taxpayers in their class action lawsuit against the territorial government. Guam had excessively withheld income taxes to support government spending. Some taxpayers got their refunds through an “expedited refund” process that devolved into arbitrariness and favoritism. The district court had certified a class of taxpayers who were entitled to but did not receive timely tax refunds.

Duncan then filed a purported class action challenging the Virgin Islands' income tax collection practices. Duncan alleged that the Territory owed taxpayers at least $97,849,992.74 in refunds for the years 2007-2017, and that, for the years 2011-2017, the Territory failed to comply with the requirement in Virgin Islands Code title 33, section 1102(b), that the Territory set aside 10 percent of collected income taxes for paying refunds, leaving the required reserve underfunded by $150 million. The district court denied class certification, citing Duncan’s receipt of a refund check from the Territory during the pendency of her lawsuit; the check, while not the amount Duncan claims, called into question Duncan’s standing and made all of her claims atypical for the putative class. The Third Circuit vacated, rejecting the conclusion that the mid-litigation refund check deprived Duncan of standing and rendered all of her claims atypical. In evaluating whether Duncan was an adequate representative, the district court applied an incorrect legal standard.

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Franciscan Alliance v. Becerra

Court: US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

Docket: 21-11174

Opinion Date: August 26, 2022

Judge: Don R. Willett

Areas of Law: Civil Procedure, Government & Administrative Law, Health Law

Section 1557 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act prohibits health care programs that receive federal funds from discriminating against patients on the basis of sex. Section 1557 incorporates Title IX’s definition of prohibited sex discrimination. The Secretary of HHS has authority to issue regulations to implement Section 1557.

In May 2016, HHS issued a rule interpreting Section 1557’s prohibition of “discrimination on the basis of sex.” Plaintiffs claimed the rule violated the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) by defining “sex discrimination” inconsistently with Title IX. Initially, the district court issued a nationwide preliminary injunction and ultimately granted summary judgment to Plaintiffs but denied permanent injunctive relief. Significant litigation followed.

In this case, HHS argues that any challenge to the 2016 Rule is now moot because the district court already vacated the parts of the rule that violated the APA, and because the 2020 Rule rescinded the 2016 Rule. The Fifth Circuit agreed.

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Gripum, LLC v. United States Food and Drug Administration

Court: US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

Docket: 21-2840

Opinion Date: August 29, 2022

Judge: Diane Pamela Wood

Areas of Law: Consumer Law, Drugs & Biotech, Government & Administrative Law

Gripum manufactures and distributes flavored liquids for use in e-cigarette devices. Gripum submitted a “premarket tobacco product application” to the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2021. The agency denied the application, reasoning that Gripum had failed to demonstrate public-health benefits as required by the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, 21 U.S.C. 387j. The 2016 “Deeming Rule,” promulgated under the Act requires denial of an application to market a new tobacco product if the manufacturer fails to show that the product would be “appropriate for the protection of public health,” considering the risks and benefits to the population as a whole, including users and non-users, the “increased or decreased likelihood that existing users of tobacco products will stop using such products and those who do not use tobacco products will start using such products.

The Seventh Circuit upheld the denial. The FDA required Gripum to show that its flavored e-cigarette products were relatively better at reducing rates of tobacco use than products already on the market. It properly applied the comparative standard mandated by the statute. Gripum failed to provide evidence specific to its products; its studies of other products did not even compare tobacco-flavored e-cigarette products to flavored products resembling Gripum’s products.

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NW AR Conservation Authority v. Crossland Heavy Contractors

Court: US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

Docket: 21-2498

Opinion Date: August 30, 2022

Judge: COLLOTON

Areas of Law: Contracts, Government & Administrative Law, Government Contracts

The Northwest Arkansas Conservation Authority is a public corporation created to handle wastewater treatment for municipalities in northwest Arkansas. After a series of pipeline failures, the Authority sued the pipeline contractor and its surety, alleging deficient construction. The Authority sued outside the time periods specified in the relevant statutes of limitations and repose, but asserted that the time did not run against its claims, because the Authority was suing as a public entity seeking to vindicate public rights. The district court concluded that the rights the Authority sought to enforce were merely proprietary and that its claims were therefore time-barred.
 
The Eighth Circuit affirmed. The court explained that the relevant proprietary interests are not transformed into public rights just because the Authority spent public money to repair the pipeline. Every action by a public entity impacts the public fisc to some degree. But if financial implications alone were enough to invoke nullum tempus, then the public-rights exception would swallow the general rule that statutes of limitations and repose run against municipal entities. Here, the damages sought would replenish the public entity’s coffers, but the relief would not vindicate a distinct public right. The Authority therefore cannot invoke nullum tempus to avoid the statutes of limitations or repose.

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Sailboat Bend Sober Living, et al v. City of Fort Lauderdale, FL.

Court: US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit

Docket: 20-13444

Opinion Date: August 26, 2022

Judge: Marcus

Areas of Law: Government & Administrative Law, Real Estate & Property Law

Sailboat Bend Sober Living, LLC (“Sailboat Bend”), a for-profit sober living home in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Silboat Bend has had trouble complying with the City of Fort Lauderdale (“the City”)’s Building and Fire Codes (collectively, “Codes”) and the City’s recently enacted Zoning Ordinance. Sailboat Bend brought several claims under the Fair Housing Act and Amendments (“FHA”) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) against the City in the Southern District of Florida, claiming that the City’s code enforcement decisions were motived by hostility to the disabled, their accommodation request was wrongfully denied, and the Zoning Ordinance was facially discriminatory against people with disabilities.

The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's order granting summary judgment to the City of Fort Lauderdale, finding that the challenged zoning ordinance does not discriminate against the plaintiffs, but instead works to their benefit. The court also determined that plaintiff's requested accommodation was not necessary.

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State of Georgia, et al v. President of the United States, et al

Court: US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit

Docket: 21-14269

Opinion Date: August 26, 2022

Judge: Grant

Areas of Law: Constitutional Law, Government & Administrative Law, Health Law

Several states challenged the portion of the vaccine mandate as it pertains to employees who work on or in connection with a covered contract, or share a workplace with another employee who does. The district court determined that Plaintiffs were entitled to a preliminary injunction.

On appeal, the Eleventh Circuit agreed with the district court that Plainitffs were likely to prevail on the merits. However, the court also found that the injunction’s nationwide scope was too broad. Thus, the Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court’s order to the extent that it enjoins federal agencies from enforcing the mandate against the plaintiffs and to the extent that it bars the federal government from considering a bidder’s compliance with the mandate when deciding whether to grant a contract to a plaintiff or to a nonparty bidder. However, the Eleventh Circuit vacated the remaining portion of the preliminary injunction.

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Everport Terminal Services Inc v. NLRB

Court: US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

Docket: 20-1411

Opinion Date: August 26, 2022

Judge: Rao

Areas of Law: Government & Administrative Law, Labor & Employment Law

The issue in this case revolves around which union—the International Association of Machinists (“IAM”) or the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (“ILWU”)—is entitled to represent the mechanic workforce at the Ben Nutter Terminal in Oakland, California.

For many years, the Terminal’s mechanics were represented by the IAM. In 2015, Everport Terminal Services, Inc., took over the Terminal’s operation and decided to hire a new workforce. As a member of the multi-employer Pacific Maritime Association (“PMA”), Everport was party to a collective bargaining agreement negotiated between the PMA and the ILWU. As Everport read that agreement, it required Everport to prioritize ILWU applicants in hiring its new mechanics and to recognize the ILWU as their representative. Everport therefore gave qualified ILWU applicants first choice of the available mechanic positions, filling the remaining vacancies with applicants from the Terminal’s existing, IAM-represented workforce.

The NLRB found that Everport had unlawfully discriminated against the Terminal’s incumbent mechanics on the basis of their IAM affiliation; that it had violated its statutory obligation to recognize and bargain with the incumbent mechanics’ chosen union, the IAM; and that it had prematurely recognized the ILWU as the representative of the Terminal’s mechanics. The NLRB also found the ILWU had unlawfully demanded and accepted recognition from Everport. In its order, the Board did not dispute—or even engage with— Everport’s reading of the PMA-ILWU agreement, instead dismissing it as a “red herring.”

The D.C. Circuit held that the NLRB's action was arbitrary, granted Everport's petition for review, and vacated the NLRB's order.

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In re: National Nurses United

Court: US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

Docket: 22-1002

Opinion Date: August 26, 2022

Judge: Srikanth Srinivasan

Areas of Law: Government & Administrative Law, Labor & Employment Law

In June 2021, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) promulgated an emergency temporary standard to mitigate the risk of COVID19 transmission in healthcare settings (“Healthcare ETS”). In December 2021, OSHA announced its intent to withdraw the Healthcare ETS while continuing to work on the permanent standard. National Nurses United and its co-petitioners (“the Unions”) seek a writ of mandamus compelling OSHA (1) to issue a permanent standard superseding the Healthcare ETS within 30 days of the writ’s issuance; (2) to retain the Healthcare ETS until a permanent standard supersedes it; and (3) to enforce the Healthcare ETS.

The D.C. Circuit found that it lacked jurisdiction to compel OSHA to maintain the emergency standard put in place to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 in the healthcare setting. The decision rests squarely with OSHA.

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NYC C.L.A.S.H., Inc. v. Marcia L. Fudge

Court: US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

Docket: 20-5126

Opinion Date: August 26, 2022

Judge: Srikanth Srinivasan

Areas of Law: Civil Procedure, Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, Government & Administrative Law, Real Estate & Property Law

In 2016, the Department of Housing and Urban Development promulgated a rule prohibiting the use of lit tobacco products in HUD-subsidized public housing units and their immediate surroundings. Appellants, led by New York City Citizens Lobbying Against Smoker Harassment (C.L.A.S.H.), brought an action raising a number of statutory and constitutional challenges to the Rule. The district court rejected all of C.L.A.S.H.’s claims.

The D.C. Circuit affirmed, finding that the Department did not exceed its authority in passing the rule and was not arbitrary, capricious, and an abuse of discretion. The Court similarly rejected C.L.A.S.H.’s constitutional claims under the Spending Clause and the Fourth, Fifth, and Tenth Amendments.

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USA v. Honeywell International, Inc.

Court: US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

Docket: 21-5179

Opinion Date: August 30, 2022

Judge: RAO

Areas of Law: Corporate Compliance, Government & Administrative Law, Products Liability

The United States sued Honeywell International Inc. for providing the material in allegedly defective bulletproof vests sold to or paid for by the government. Among other relief, the government sought treble damages for the cost of the vests. It has already settled with the other companies involved, and Honeywell seeks a pro tanto, dollar for dollar, credit against its common damages liability equal to those settlements. For its part, the government argues Honeywell should still have to pay its proportionate share of damages regardless of the amount of the settlements with other companies. The district court adopted the proportionate share rule but certified the question for interlocutory review under 28 U.S.C. Section 1292(b).
 
The DC Circuit reversed the district court’s ruling and held the pro tanto rule is the appropriate approach to calculating settlement credits under the False Claims Act. The court explained that in the False Claims Act, Congress created a vital mechanism for the federal government to protect itself against fraudulent claims. The FCA, however, provides no rule for allocating settlement credits among joint fraudsters. Because the FCA guards the federal government’s vital pecuniary interests, and because state courts widely diverge over the correct rule for settlement offsets, the court found it appropriate to establish a federal common law rule. The pro tanto rule best fits with the FCA and the joint and several liability applied to FCA claims. Thus, Honeywell is entitled to offset its common damages in the amount of the government’s settlements from the other parties.

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Viasat, Inc. v. FCC

Court: US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

Docket: 21-1123

Opinion Date: August 26, 2022

Judge: Katsas

Areas of Law: Aerospace/Defense, Environmental Law, Government & Administrative Law

The Federal Communications Commission approved a request by Space Exploration Holdings, LLC to fly its satellites at a lower altitude.

The D.C. Circuit rejected the merits of a competitor's claim that the FCC did not adequately consider the risk of signal interference. The D.C. Circuit also declined to review a claim brought by another competitor and an environmental group because the competitor's asserted injury did not fall within the zone of interests protected by the NEPA and the environmental group lacked standing.

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Administrative Office of the Courts v. Abell Foundation

Court: Maryland Court of Appeals

Docket: 48/21

Opinion Date: August 15, 2022

Judge: Robert N. McDonald

Areas of Law: Government & Administrative Law

The Court of Appeals agreed with the conclusions of the circuit court and the court of appeals that the record containing the "code key" assigning each judge a code for purposes of access to information about court proceedings and filings did not fall under the exception from public access in the Maryland Rules, holding that the code key was disclosable in response to the records request in this case.

An online database Case Search, which is overseen by the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC), provides public access to information regarding court proceedings. For cases in the District Court sitting in Baltimore City, the judge is identified by an alphanumeric code called the code key. The code key does not appear anywhere that is accessible to the public. Abell Foundation requested a copy of the code key from the AOC under the Maryland Public Information Act, but the AOC did not comply, citing the the exception for certain administrative records in Maryland Rule 16-905(f)(3), as it existed at the time. The circuit court granted summary judgment for Abell on judicial review, and the court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the code key was disclosable in response to Abell's public records request and was not exempt from disclosure under the Maryland Rules.

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Becker v. Falls Road Community Ass'n

Court: Maryland Court of Appeals

Docket: 24/21

Opinion Date: August 26, 2022

Judge: Getty

Areas of Law: Government & Administrative Law, Real Estate & Property Law, Zoning, Planning & Land Use

The Court of Appeals ruled that the Board of Appeals of Baltimore County erred in reversing an administrative law judge's determination that substantial changes existed between an original development plan and a later proposed development plan, holding that, contrary to the Board's conclusion, the doctrine of collateral estoppel did not bar approval of the later-proposed development plan.

After a hearing, the Board issued an opinion concluding that the ALJ erred as a matter of law in ruling that the most recent development plan modification at issue was not barred by collateral estoppel. The circuit court reversed the Board's decision, concluding that the Board misapplied the law and misconstrued the facts in making its decision. The court of special appeals reversed. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the Board erred in concluding that collateral estoppel barred the approval of the most recent development plan.

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Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Inc. v. CREG Westport I, LLC

Court: Maryland Court of Appeals

Docket: 53/21

Opinion Date: August 26, 2022

Judge: Booth

Areas of Law: Environmental Law, Government & Administrative Law, Real Estate & Property Law

The Court of Appeals held that the Forest Conservation Act of 1991 (the Act) and regulations promulgated by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) required a right to appeal the approval of a forest conservation plan and that a county agency's approval of a forest conservation plan is a "final decision" for appeal purposes.

At issue before the Court of Appeals was whether the approval of a forest conservation plan, as well as an associated waiver that authorizers a developer to remove trees that would otherwise be protected under the Act, is a final agency decision subject to independent judicial review under the Harford County Forest Conservation Program. The Court of Appeals reversed the decision of the court of special appeals with directions to remand the case for further proceedings in the circuit court, holding that the Act and regulations promulgated by DNR require a right to appeal the approval of a forest conservation plan and that a county agency's approval of a forest conservation plan is a "final decision" for appeal purposes.

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Abner A. v. Mass. Interscholastic Athletic Ass'n

Court: Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court

Docket: SJC-13224

Opinion Date: August 29, 2022

Judge: Gaziano

Areas of Law: Education Law, Government & Administrative Law

The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the decision of the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) declaring a high school senior ineligible to play a fifth year of interscholastic football and basketball and denying his request for an exception, holding that the MIAA's determination was not arbitrary and capricious.

Plaintiff, a high school senior who had repeated his junior year and had played a total of four prior years on the interscholastic teams of his high schools, and his school brought this action requesting injunctive relief enjoining the MIAA from enforcing its decision declaring Plaintiff ineligible to participate in interscholastic high school sports for a fifth academic year. The superior court allowed the motion for preliminary injunction, concluding that the MIAA acted arbitrarily and capriciously in rejecting Plaintiff's application for a waiver. The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the order and remanded the matter to the superior court, holding (1) a reviewing court should examine a challenge to an MIAA eligibility determination only to determine whether the decision was arbitrary and capricious; and (2) the MIAA's decision in this case was not arbitrary and capricious.

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Spann v. Minneapolis City Council

Court: Minnesota Supreme Court

Docket: A21-0931

Opinion Date: August 24, 2022

Judge: Lorie Skjerven Gildea

Areas of Law: Government & Administrative Law

The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part the decision of the court of appeals reversing the district court's issuance of an alternative writ of mandamus to compel the Minneapolis Mayor and the Minneapolis City Council to comply and fund a minimum number of police officers, holding that the City Council was meeting its uncontested clear legal duty to fund at least 731 sworn police officers.

A group of north Minneapolis residents sought a writ of mandamus to compel the Mayor and City Council to employ and fund at least 0.0017 sworn police officers per resident. The district court concluded that the Minneapolis City Charter created a clear legal duty to employ and fund 0.0017 officers per resident and that Defendants had failed to meet this duty. The court of appeals reversed, holding (1) the Mayor did not have a clear legal duty to employ a minimum number of officers, and (2) the City Council was satisfying its clear legal duty to fund 0.0017 officers per resident. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded in part, holding (1) the Mayor had a clear legal duty to employ 0.0017 sworn police officers per Minneapolis resident; and (2) the City Council was meeting its clear legal duty in this case.

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Mississippi Division of Medicaid v. Yalobusha County Nursing Home

Court: Supreme Court of Mississippi

Citation: 2021-SA-00030-SCT

Opinion Date: August 25, 2022

Judge: Leslie D. King

Areas of Law: Civil Procedure, Government & Administrative Law, Health Law, Public Benefits

The Mississippi Division of Medicaid (DOM) and Yalobusha County Nursing Home (YNH) disputed four costs submitted for reimbursement by YNH in its fiscal year 2013 Medicaid cost report. The DOM appealed a Chancery Court’s judgment ordering the DOM to reverse the four adjustments at issue. Because the DOM correctly interpreted the appropriate statutes and because its decisions were supported by substantial evidence, the Mississippi Supreme Court reversed the chancery court’s order and rendered judgment reinstating the decisions of the DOM.

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Mid America Agri Products v. Perkins County Bd. of Equalization

Court: Nebraska Supreme Court

Citation: 312 Neb. 341

Opinion Date: August 26, 2022

Judge: Lindsey Miller-Lerman

Areas of Law: Government & Administrative Law, Real Estate & Property Law

The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the Tax Equalization and Review Commission (TERC) affirming the judgment of the Perkins County Board of Equalization dismissing a 2021 property valuation protest brought by Mid America Products/Wheatland Industries LLC (Wheatland) because it was not timely filed, holding that there was no error.

Wheatland, which owned a real estate parcel in Perkins County, protested the Perkins County assessor's valuation for the 2021 tax year. The Board automatically dismissed the 2021 protest as a matter of law. TERC affirmed, concluding that the Board correctly dismissed Wheatland's protest because the protest had not been timely filed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that because Wheatland's protest was filed after the statutory June 30 deadline, the Board properly dismissed the protest of the 2021 property valuation.

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Newfield Exploration Company, et al. v. North Dakota, et al.

Court: North Dakota Supreme Court

Citation: 2022 ND 166

Opinion Date: September 1, 2022

Judge: Daniel J. Crothers

Areas of Law: Civil Procedure, Contracts, Energy, Oil & Gas Law, Government & Administrative Law, Government Contracts

The State of North Dakota, ex rel. the North Dakota Board of University and School Lands, and the Office of the Commissioner of University and School Lands, a/k/a the North Dakota Department of Trust Lands appealed a judgment dismissing its claim against Newfield Exploration Company relating to the underpayment of gas royalties. The North Dakota Supreme Court found that the district court concluded the State did not establish a legal obligation owed by Newfield. However, the State pled N.D.C.C. § 47-16-39.1 in its counterclaim, which the court recognized at trial. Because the State satisfied both the pleading and the proof requirements of N.D.C.C. § 47-16-39.1, the Supreme Court held the district court erred in concluding the State did not prove Newfield owed it a legal obligation to pay additional royalties. Rather, as the well operator, Newfield owed the State an obligation under N.D.C.C. § 47-16-39.1 to pay royalties according to the State’s leases. The court failed to recognize Newfield’s legal obligations as a well operator under N.D.C.C. § 47-16-39.1. The Supreme Court concluded the district court erred in dismissing the State's counterclaim; therefore, judgment was reversed and the matter remanded for findings related to the State's damages and Newfield's affirmative defenses.

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Sholy v. Cass Cty. Comm'm

Court: North Dakota Supreme Court

Citation: 2022 ND 164

Opinion Date: September 1, 2022

Judge: Jerod E. Tufte

Areas of Law: Government & Administrative Law, Tax Law

David Sholy appealed a district court order dismissing his appeal from the Cass County Commission’s (“Commission”) decision to deny his applications for abatement or refund of taxes. Sholy argued the court misapplied the law in ordering him to file a certificate of record. The Commission argued Sholy failed to timely file his notice of appeal with the court. The North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the district court’s reasoning for dismissing Sholy’s appeal was incorrect but that dismissal was nonetheless appropriate because the court lacked jurisdiction over Sholy’s untimely appeal. The Court therefore affirmed the order dismissing Sholy’s appeal.

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Schwartz v. King County

Court: Washington Supreme Court

Docket: 99359-9

Opinion Date: September 1, 2022

Judge: Debra Stephens

Areas of Law: Civil Procedure, Government & Administrative Law, Personal Injury

Carl Schwartz filed suit against King County, Washington (County) for the catastrophic injuries he suffered when he collided with a bollard the County installed on the Green River Trail. The County moved for summary judgment dismissal, arguing that Washington’s recreational use immunity statute, RCW 4.24.210, precluded liability and that the statute’s exception for known dangerous artificial latent conditions did not apply. The trial court agreed and granted summary judgment for the County. The Court of Appeals disagreed and reversed summary judgment. The Washington Supreme Court affirmed the Court of Appeals, finding Schwartz presented evidence showing a genuine issue of material fact as to whether the bollard was a known dangerous artificial latent condition, so the trial court erred by granting summary judgment for the County. The case was remanded to the trial court for further proceedings.

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