Justia Government & Administrative Law Opinion Summaries

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The Department of Justice filed suit against the State of Florida, seeking declaratory and injunctive relief under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and 28 C.F.R. 35.130(d). The Department alleged that Florida was failing to meet its obligations under Title II by unnecessarily institutionalizing hundreds of children with disabilities in nursing facilities. The Department also alleged that Florida's Medicaid policies and practices placed other children who have "medically complex" conditions, or who are "medically fragile," at risk of unnecessary institutionalization. The Eleventh Circuit held that the Attorney General has a cause of action to enforce Title II of the ADA. The court held that when Congress chose to designate the "remedies, procedures, and rights" in section 505 of the Rehabilitation Act, which in turn adopted Title VI, as the enforcement provision for Title II of the ADA, Congress created a system of federal enforcement. The court also held that the express statutory language in Title II adopts federal statutes that use a remedial structure based on investigation of complaints, compliance reviews, negotiation to achieve voluntary compliance, and ultimately enforcement through "any other means authorized by law" in the event of noncompliance. Therefore, courts have routinely concluded that Congress's decision to utilize the same enforcement mechanism for Title II as the Rehabilitation Act, and therefore Title VI, demonstrates that the Attorney General has the authority to act "by any other means authorized by law" to enforce Title II, including initiating a civil action. Accordingly, the court reversed the district court's judgment and remanded. View "United States v. State of Florida" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed Save Your Courthouse Committee's action seeking a writ of prohibition against the city of Medina and its director of finance (collectively, the municipal respondents) and denied the mandamus claim on the merits, holding that the committee could not show that article II, section 1g of the Ohio Constitution imposes a duty to allow ten days to gather additional signatures in support of a municipal initiative petition. The committee prepared an initiative petition that would allow city electors to vote on a courthouse project. The petition did not have enough valid signatures to qualify for the ballot. When a committee member asked the board of elections to afford the committee ten additional days to gather signatures, the board denied the request. The committee then filed its complaint for writs of prohibition and mandamus. The Supreme Court denied relief, holding (1) because the city did not exercise quasi-judicial authority, prohibition was not available to block the ordinance; and (2) the committee failed to show that the board had a duty to allow ten extra days to gather additional signatures for the municipal initiative petition. View "State ex rel. Save Your Courthouse Committee v. City of Medina" on Justia Law

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University of Pittsburgh Medical Center includes 20 hospitals. Its more than 2,700 doctors are employed by Medical Center subsidiaries. Each surgeon had a base salary and an annual Work-Unit quota. Every medical service is worth a certain number of Work Units, which are one component of Relative Value Units (RVUs). RVUs are the units that Medicare uses to measure how much a medical procedure is worth. The surgeons were rewarded or punished based on how many Work Units they generated. The number of Work Units billed by the Neurosurgery Department more than doubled in 2006-2009. The relators accuse the surgeons of artificially boosting their Work Units: The surgeons said they acted as assistants on surgeries and as teaching physicians when they did not and billed for procedures that never happened. They did surgeries that were medically unnecessary or needlessly complex. Most of the surgeons reported total Work Units that put them in the top 10% of neurosurgeons nationwide. Whenever a surgeon did a procedure at one of the hospitals, the Medical Center billed for hospital and ancillary services. The United States intervened in a suit as to the physician services claims, settling those claims for $2.5 million. It declined to intervene in the hospital services claims. The Third Circuit reversed the dismissal of those claims. The relators adequately pleaded violations of the Stark Act, 42 U.S.C. 1395nn(b)(4), which forbids hospitals to bill Medicare for certain services when the hospital has a financial relationship with the doctor who requested those services. It is likely that the surgeons' pay is so high that it must take referrals into account. Stark Act exceptions work like affirmative defenses; the burden lies with the defendant, even under the False Claims Act, 31 U.S.C. 3729(a)(1)(A). View "United States v. University of Pittsburgh Medical Center" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals affirming the judgment of the trial court granting declaratory judgment ordering the planning commission of the city of Broadview Heights to issue a certificate of approval to Gloria Wesolowski, holding that the thirty-day time limit set forth in Ohio Rev. Code 711.09(C) applies to a city planning commission and prevailed over the municipal subdivision regulation at issue in this case. After the commission denied Wesolowski's application seeking to subdivide property Wesolowski filed an administrative appeal alleging that the commission failed to comply with section 711.09(C), which requires that the commission either approve or deny a subdivision application within thirty days after its submission. The trial court agreed and granted partial summary judgment in Wesolowski's favor. The commission appealed, arguing that section 711.09(C) does not apply to cities because the city's regulations, adopted pursuant to its home-rule powers, prevail over section 711.09(C). The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the time limit set forth in section 711.09(C) applies to both cities and villages; and (2) a home-rule municipality's adoption of subdivision regulations is an exercise of its police powers, and therefore, section 711.09(C) prevails over any conflicting municipal subdivision regulation. View "Wesolowski v. Broadview Heights Planning Commission" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals granting Thomas Beyer's request for a writ of mandamus and ordering the Industrial Commission of Ohio to vacate its decision denying Beyer's request for an award under Ohio Rev. Code 4123.57 for the permanent partial loss of sight in his right eye, holding that a physician, not the commission, must determine the degree of a claimant's impairment. In denying Beyer's request, the Commission found that the record did not contain sufficient medical evidence to substantiate it because Beyer did not present medical evidence of the percentage of vision lost. The court of appeals ordered the commission to vacate its decision and grant Beyer the requested award, finding that Beyer had provided the commission with sufficient evidence for the commission to determine the percentage of vision lost. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) claims involving medical determinations may be established only by submitting appropriate medical evidence; and (2) Beyer's evidence fell short because he did not present evidence of a physician's determination of the degree of his impairment. View "State ex rel. Beyer v. Autoneum North America" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit denied Petitioner's petition for review of a Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) decision affirming an immigration judge's (IJ) denial of his claims for asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under the Convention Against Torture (CAT), holding that there was substantial evidence supporting the BIA's affirmance of the IJ's decision. In ordering the removal of Petitioner, a native and citizen of Ecuador, the IJ found that Petitioner was not a credible witness and that Petitioner had not met his burden for any relief. The BIA affirmed. Before the First Circuit, Petitioner argued that the BIA failed to consider all the evidence and erred in determining that he had not meaningfully challenged the adverse credibility finding. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that there was substantial evidence supporting the BIA's affirmance of the IJ's decision. View "Loja-Paguay v. Barr" on Justia Law

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Ten small telephone companies sought review of a California Public Utilities Commission (Commission) resolution and decision declining to issue certain funding to Siskiyou Telephone Company (Siskiyou) and Volcano Telephone Company (Volcano). The telephone companies claimed the resolution and decision departed from well-established requirements governing the issuance of funding from the California High Cost Fund A (CHCF-A). Although the Court of Appeal rejected the telephone companies’ assertion that certain adjustments were mandatory, it agreed with them that the Commission’s resolution and decision did not conform to applicable rules. Accordingly, the Court annulled portions of the resolution and decision denying Siskiyou and Volcano’s adjustment requests for 2016 nonrecurring revenue impacts, and remanded the matter for further proceedings. View "Calaveras Telephone Company v. Public Utilities Commission" on Justia Law

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In a case of first impression for the Alaska Supreme Court, at issue was the use of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) to a catatonic, non-consenting patient. In March 2017, police officers found Lucy G. in an Anchorage parking lot, wet and shivering. She was taken to a local hospital, where she initially exhibited “agitated, self-harming, and disoriented” behaviors requiring sedation for her and the staff’s safety. Lucy, who was calm but unresponsive by the end of the day, was diagnosed as catatonic. Hospital staff also noted her prior schizophrenia diagnosis and psychotropic medication prescriptions, as well as hospitalization the prior month. After a petition by hospital staff, the superior court authorized Lucy’s hospitalization for an involuntary commitment evaluation. She would ultimately be diagnosed with catatonia, involuntarily committed for 30 days, and given psychotropic medication and involuntary ECT. At the superior court hearing, the parties agreed that constitutional standards established in Myers v. Alaska Psychiatric Institute, 138 P.3d 238 (Alaska 2006) for ordering involuntary, non-emergency administration of psychotropic medication also applied to involuntary ECT. The patient argued there should have been heightened standards for ordering involuntary ECT and that, in any event, the superior court’s Myers analysis was legally deficient. The Alaska Supreme Court held that the superior court did not plainly err by applying the existing Myers constitutional standards to authorize involuntary ECT to the non-consenting patient. The Court also held the superior court made sufficient findings related to each relevant, contested mandatory Myers factor. Therefore, the Court surmised these findings supported the court’s involuntary ECT order. View "In the Matter of the Necessity of the Hospitalization of Lucy G." on Justia Law

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The DC Circuit granted a petition for review challenging the Postal Services' stamp price increase for the "Forever Stamp," which was part of the Postal Regulatory Commission Order 4875. The court held that the price hike did not meet the Administrative Procedure Act's requirements for reasoned decisionmaking, because the Commission failed to provide an adequate explanation of the increase and failed to respond to public comments challenging the increase under relevant statutory factors and objectives included in the Commission's organic statute, the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA). Accordingly, the court vacated Order 4875 addressing rate adjustments for the category of first-class mail. View "Carlson v. Postal Regulatory Commission" on Justia Law

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Petitioners challenged the EPA's rule implementing the "Good Neighbor Provision," which requires upwind states to eliminate their significant contributions to air quality problems in downwind States, by promulgating a regulation addressing the interstate transport of ozone, or smog. The DC Circuit held that the rule was inconsistent with the Clean Air Act, because it allows upwind States to continue their significant contributions to downwind air quality problems beyond the statutory deadlines by which downwind States must demonstrate their attainment of air quality standards. The court held that EPA acted lawfully and rationally in all other respects. Accordingly, the petitions for review were granted in part and denied in part. View "Wisconsin v. EPA" on Justia Law