Justia Government & Administrative Law Opinion Summaries

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Petitioners who pursue the recall of a local school board member under the Recall Act are entitled to the procedural protections of the New Mexico statute prohibiting strategic litigation against public participation (Anti-SLAPP statute). This dispute arose out of a malicious abuse of process claim made by Taos school board member Arsenio Cordova (Cordova) against eighteen members of an unincorporated citizens’ association (collectively, Petitioners) following their efforts to remove Cordova from office under the Local School Board Member Recall Act (Recall Act). The New Mexico Supreme Court concluded that petitioners were entitled to immunity under the Noerr-Pennington doctrine when they exercise their right to petition unless the petitioners: (1) lacked sufficient factual or legal support; and (2) had a subjective illegitimate motive for exercising their right to petition. View "Cordova v. Cline" on Justia Law

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The Wyoming Workers’ Compensation Division covered the surgery on Jeffrey Baker’s shoulder, which was injured at work. The Division, however, denied Baker’s subsequent request for temporary total disability benefits related to a neck injury Baker claimed occurred with the shoulder surgery. The Medical Commission Hearing Panel denied Baker’s claim on review, determining that Baker failed to prove a causal relationship between his neck injury and the work-related accident. The district court upheld the decision of the Commission. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Commission’s determination was supported by substantial evidence. View "Baker v. State ex rel. Department of Workforce Services" on Justia Law

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Petitioner, a citizen of Guatemala, petitioned for review of a decision of the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) denying his requests for asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under the Convention Against Torture (CAT). The BIA affirmed the decision of the Immigration Judge (IJ), concluding (1) the level of mistreatment Petitioner suffered did not rise to the level that could qualify as persecution to be entitled to a grant of asylum, and (2) Petitioner could not meet the requirements for withholding of removal and for protection under the CAT. The First Circuit denied Petitioner’s petition for review, holding (1) Petitioner failed to provide the court with a basis for reversing the BIA’s ruling denying his application for asylum; and (2) Petitioner failed to offer any basis on which to conclude that he could satisfy the requirements for withholding for removal or for protection under the CAT. View "Morales-Morales v. Sessions" on Justia Law

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In a discretionary appeal, the issue before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court centered on whether a home rule municipality could amend its home rule charter to eliminate mandatory subjects of bargaining as defined by the Police and Firemen Collective Bargaining Act ("Act 111"), the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Act ("PLRA"), and applicable case law. Appellant, the Fraternal Order of Police, Fort Pitt Lodge No. 1 (“FOP”) was the exclusive collective bargaining representative for the police officers of Appellee, the City of Pittsburgh (“City”), pursuant to Act 111 and the PLRA. The City was subject to the Policemen’s Civil Service Act, which requires officer applicants be residents of the city at the time of application and throughout their term of employment. The General Assembly repealed the residency mandate in 2012. The parties met to bargain the residency issue, but were unable to reach an agreement. The matter went to arbitration, and pending those proceedings, the Pittsburgh City Council passed a resolution to place a referendum on the upcoming general election ballot asking the voters whether the City’s home rule charter should be amended to require all City employees and officials, including police and fire personnel, to maintain their domicile within the City. Voters approved the home rule charter amendment in 2013. The arbitration panel issued a Supplemental Interest Arbitration Award, which provided that the City-only residency requirement would immediately discontinue and be replaced with a different residency requirement: officers would be required to reside within a twenty-five air-mile radius from the Pittsburgh City-County Building. The City sought review with the court of common pleas, seeking to vacate the arbitration supplemental award. The Supreme Court found that to ensure that home rule municipalities would not abrogate the right of police and firefighters to collectively bargain, the General Assembly enacted Section 9 of Act 111, specifically providing that the act was applicable to every political subdivision in the Commonwealth, regardless of its adoption of a home rule charter. Because the home rule charter amendment changed or modified Act 111 by removing residency as a subject of collective bargaining, it violated Section 2962(e) of the Home Rule Charter law. Thus, based strictly on Section 2962 of the Home Rule Charter Law, the FOP was entitled to relief. The trial court affirming the supplemental interest arbitration award directing officers be required to reside within a twenty-five mile radius from the City-County Building was reinstated. View "City of Pittsburgh v. Fraternal Order of Police Ft. Pitt Ldg. 1" on Justia Law

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A non-negligently constructed and maintained piece of playground equipment cannot be a “dangerous condition” under the Colorado Governmental Immunity Act’s recreation-area waiver. Nine-year-old Alexa Loveland fell while using her elementary school playground’s zip line apparatus and severely fractured her wrist and forearm. Alexa and her parents filed a tort action against the school district, seeking damages for Alexa’s injuries. Because the Colorado legislature limited when public entities such as the school district may be sued, the issue this case presented for the Colorado Supreme Court’s review was whether the Lovelands’ lawsuit fell within one of the limited exceptions to sovereign immunity under the Act. The Supreme Court concluded the facts as the Lovelands have alleged them, did not satisfy the dangerous-condition requirement, and that the trial court was correct to conclude the recreation-area waiver did not apply. View "St. Vrain Valley Sch. Dist. RE-1J v. Loveland" on Justia Law

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Lisa Reasner suffered years of sexual abuse while in foster care and after the Office of Children’s Services (OCS) approved her adoption. Years later, Reasner sued OCS after discovering that OCS might have played a role in allowing her abuse. The superior court concluded that Reasner’s claims were untimely and granted summary judgment in favor of OCS. The Alaska Supreme Court reversed and remanded. The Court found the superior court erred in granting summary judgment to OCS based on the statute of limitations because it found a genuine issue of material facts existed as to when Reasner's claims accrued. The Court found Reasner's remaining claims could have withstood summary judgment. View "Reasner v. Dept. of Health & Social Services" on Justia Law

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In 2009, Richard Mattox sued the Department of Corrections (DOC) for injuries arising from an assault by another prisoner. Mattox alleged that DOC was negligent in failing to accommodate his requests for transfer to a different housing module prior to the assault and that DOC was negligent in permitting the correctional officer on duty to leave the module during the time the assault occurred. The superior court granted DOC’s motion for partial summary judgment regarding classification and housing assignments and then granted DOC’s motion for summary judgment on all other causes of action. The Alaska Supreme Court remanded because there was a material question of fact regarding the foreseeability of the assault. Mattox moved for a new trial on the grounds that the jury erroneously applied the doctrine of discretionary function immunity in reaching its verdict when that question should have been decided by the court before trial. The court denied that motion and Mattox appealed. The Supreme Court concluded Mattox waived any challenge to the jury’s application of the doctrine, and the superior court committed no reversible error by allowing the jury to apply the doctrine rather than applying the doctrine itself sua sponte. View "Mattox v. Dept. of Corrections" on Justia Law

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Section 309 of the Federal Power Act (FPA), 16 U.S.C. 825h, vests the Commission with broad remedial authority, including the authority to grant recoupment when it is justified; Section 201(f) does not limit the authority of the Commission to grant relief under Section 309 with respect to matters that are beyond the strictures of Sections 201(f) and 205; and an order of recoupment, as distinguished from an order to refund under Section 205, is beyond the strictures of Sections 201(f) and 205. In this case, Chehalis sought relief from the Commission by filing a Motion for an Order Requiring Recoupment of Payments, but the Commission concluded that it could not order recoupment because the Commission's refund authority does not extend to exempt public utilities such as the Intervenor Bonneville. The DC Circuit held that the Commission erred when it held that it lacked the authority to grant the Order Requiring Recoupment where the Commission clearly had jurisdiction over the subject of this dispute and the Commission retained the authority to order Bonneville to return the funds when the agency acknowledged that its initial order was mistaken. The court granted in part and denied in part Chehalis's petitions for review, and remanded for further proceedings. View "TNA Merchant Projects v. FERC" on Justia Law

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The FAA's Registration Rule requires the owners of small unmanned aircraft operated for recreational purposes (model aircraft) to register with the FAA. Advisory Circular 91-57A announced that model aircraft would be subject to certain flight restrictions in the Washington, D.C., area. The DC Circuit granted the petition for review in this case, vacating the Registration Rule to the extent it applies to model aircraft because Section 336(a) of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act, 49 U.S.C. 40101 note, states that the FAA "may not promulgate any rule or regulation regarding a model aircraft." The DC Circuit held that petitioner's challenge to the Advisory Circular was untimely and petitioner did not have reasonable grounds for the late filing. View "Taylor v. Huerta" on Justia Law

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A district court has broad discretion to decide whether and when to grant an agency's request for a voluntary remand. But a voluntary remand is typically appropriate only when the agency intends to revisit the challenged agency decision on review. After the Department rejected Limnia's two loan applications, Limnia filed suit alleging that the Department's rejection of Limnia's applications was unlawful under the Administrative Procedure Act. The district court then granted the Department's voluntary remand request. The DC Circuit held that the district court erred by granting the Department's request for a voluntary remand in this case because the Department did not intend to revisit the original application decisions under review. Therefore, the DC Circuit reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "Limnia, Inc. v. DOE" on Justia Law