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Claimants appealed the denial of civil claims under the Settlement Program that was established following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Claimants submitted Individual Economic Loss (IEL) claims for lost wages as employees of their architectural firm. The firm had already received a Business and Economic Loss (BEL) award under the Settlement Program. The Fifth Circuit held that the BEL framework, by compensating the business for the owners' lost wages through the fixed-cost designation of their wages, precluded compensating those same owners for the same wages through an IEL claim. Because the Settlement Program did not contemplate the requested compensation, the court affirmed the judgment. View "In Re: Deepwater Horizon" on Justia Law

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The Surface Water Withdrawal, Permitting, Use, and Reporting Act regulated surface water withdrawals in South Carolina. Surface water is defined as "all water that is wholly or partially within the State . . . or within its jurisdiction, which is open to the atmosphere and subject to surface runoff, including, but not limited to, lakes, streams, ponds, rivers, creeks, runs, springs, and reservoirs . . . ." Agricultural users are treated differently under the Act. Plaintiffs jointly filed this action against DHEC in Barnwell County, challenging the Act's registration system for agricultural users, contending, amongst other things, that the Act’s provisions were an unconstitutional taking, a violation of due process, and a violation of the public trust doctrine. The circuit court granted summary judgment against the plaintiffs on the grounds the case did not present a justiciable controversy, both because the plaintiffs lacked standing and the dispute was not ripe for judicial determination. Finding no reversible error with that holding, the South Carolina Supreme Court affirmed. View "Jowers v. SCDHEC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals that granted a limited writ of mandamus ordering the Industrial Commission to amend its order awarding permanent-total-disability compensation to adjust the start date of the benefits awarded to Terry Phillips. Phillips suffered a workplace injury in 2011. In 2013, Phillips applied for permanent-total-disability compensation. After a hearing, a staff hearing officer concluded that Phillips was permanently and totally disabled based on the reports of Dr. Amol Soin, Dr. Steven Rosen, and Dr. Norman Berg. R&L Carriers Shared Services, LLC filed a complaint in mandamus arguing that the Commission’s order was not supported by the evidence. The magistrate recommended that the court of appeals issue a writ of mandamus ordering the Commission to amend its order to eliminate from consideration the reports of Dr. Soin and Dr. Rosen and to adjust the start date of the award to coincide with the date of Dr. Berg’s report. The court of appeals adopted the magistrate’s decision. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that R&L failed to demonstrate that the Commission abused its discretion by entering an order not supported by some evidence in the record. View "State ex rel. R&L Carriers Shared Services, LLC v. Industrial Commission of Ohio" on Justia Law

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House Bill No. 67 passed the Idaho State House on February 2, 2017, and it was transmitted to the Senate. The bill was amended twice in the Senate, and it passed the Senate, as amended, on March 22, 2017, and was returned to the House. As amended by the Senate, the bill passed the House on March 27, 2017. The bill exempted from the state sales tax the sale of food, as defined in the bill, sold for human consumption. The Governor vetoed the bill and delivered it to the Secretary of State on April 11, 2017. Because of the veto, the Secretary of State thereafter refused to certify House Bill No. 67 as law. This case was brought in the Idaho Supreme Court’s original action seeking a writ of mandamus compelling the Secretary of State to certify 2017 House Bill No. 67 as law because the Governor did not veto the bill and return it to the Secretary of State within ten days (excluding Sundays) after the legislature adjourned. The Supreme Court overruled Cenarrusa v. Andrus, 582 P.2d 1082 (1978), but held that all parties were misconstruing Article IV, section 10, of the Idaho Constitution, and denied the writ of mandate. View "Nate v. Denney" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs-Appellants Pueblo of Pojoaque appealed a district court’s dismissal of its claim for declaratory and injunctive relief based on the New Mexico’s alleged unlawful interference with Class III gaming operations on the Pueblo’s lands. In July 2005, the Pueblo and New Mexico executed a Class III gaming compact pursuant to the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (“IGRA”) that allowed it to operate casino-style gaming on its lands. Prior to the expiration of the compact, the New Mexico Gaming Control Board (“the Gaming Board”) sought to perform its annual compliance review of the Pueblo’s gaming operations. The Pueblo complied on June 24; on June 30, 2015, the compact expired at midnight. The Gaming Board announced that despite the U.S. Attorney’s decision allowing the Pueblo’s gaming operations to continue pending the review, the Pueblo’s casinos were operating illegally due to the absence of a compact, and it placed in abeyance approval of any license application or renewal for vendors who did business with the Pueblo. The Pueblo commenced this action, asserting in part that New Mexico failed to conduct compact negotiations in good faith in violation of IGRA and that individual defendants conspired under the color of state law to “deprive the federal right of the Pueblo and its members to be free of state jurisdiction over activities that occur on the Pueblo lands.” The Pueblo sought an injunction, contending that the Gaming Board’s actions were an impermissible attempt to assert jurisdiction over gaming operations on tribal lands, despite the termination of New Mexico’s jurisdiction over such activities upon the expiration of the compact. The district court entered final judgment, stayed the effects of the preliminary injunction, and issued an indicative ruling that it would vacate or dissolve the preliminary injunction on remand. The Pueblo sought to stay the district court’s judgment and restore the preliminary injunction. The district court declined to do so, but the Tenth Circuit extended a temporary injunction against the State mirroring the preliminary injunction entered by the district court. On appeal, the Pueblo argued the district court did not have jurisdiction to proceed to the merits given the interlocutory appeal of the preliminary injunction and, even if it did, it erred in concluding that IGRA did not preempt New Mexico’s regulatory action. The Tenth Circuit found the text of IGRA clearly evinced congressional intent that Class III gaming would not occur in the absence of a compact, and no such compact existed. Accordingly, conflict preemption also does not apply. For similar reasons, the Court rejected the Pueblo’s argument that the Gaming Board’s determination as to the unlawful nature of the Pueblo’s gaming activities was an improper assertion of jurisdiction preempted by IGRA. Because the Pueblo’s gaming activities are not conducted pursuant to a compact or an alternative mechanism permitted under IGRA, the Pueblo’s present gaming is unlawful under federal law, and the State’s conclusion to this effect was not an exercise of jurisdiction that IGRA preempts. View "Pueblo of Pojoaque v. New Mexico" on Justia Law

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Sierra Club petitioned for review of EPA's determination that EPA satisfied its responsibilities under 42 U.S.C. 7412(c)(6) to establish "maximum achievable control technology" (MACT) standards for emissions of certain hazardous air pollutants (HAPs). The DC Circuit held that the petition was timely and EPA did not adequately respond to petitioners' comments raising the issues concerning the use of surrogacy in the administrative proceedings. Accordingly, the court denied EPA's motion to dismiss and ordered the matter remanded to EPA for further proceedings. View "Sierra Club v. EPA" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the decision of the Board of Tax Appeals (BTA) that retained the reduced values that the Franklin County Board of Revision (BOR) adopted for eighteen condominium parcels in Franklin County for tax years 2011 through 2013. The BTA upheld the BOR’s valuation on the grounds that it found no evidence to counter the BOR’s decision to modify the auditor’s original assessment of the property. The Supreme Court held (1) the BTA erred by relying on a presumption of validity rather than independently weighing the evidence; and (2) under recent case law, the reduced values ordered by the BOR were properly carried forward from tax year 2011 to tax years 2012 and 2013. View "Columbus City Schools Board of Education v. Franklin County Board of Revision" on Justia Law

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Appeals from decisions of the Industrial Commission cannot be turned into inverse condemnation actions; the Industrial Commission was authorized to modify previously designated spacing units. Arthur Langved appealed an Industrial Commission grant of Continental Resources, Inc.'s application to terminate existing oil and gas well spacing units, to create new spacing units, and to modify well setback requirements for portions of the Elm Tree-Bakken and Sanish-Bakken pools. Langved owned leased and unleased mineral interests in property covered by spacing units created by the Commission in 2013 and 2014. In 2015, Continental filed an application to amend these Commission orders to terminate the existing spacing units and to create new spacing units. On appeal, Langved stated the issue was "[w]hether the [Commission] could constitutionally, statutorily, or discretionally reunitize a producing drilling and spacing unit and thereby diminish his vested property rights and take his surface estate to afford Continental and the state of North Dakota an opportunity to access submerged minerals under the sections added in the enlarged unit." The North Dakota Supreme Court determined the Commission regularly pursued its authority, and its findings and conclusions were sustained by the law and by substantial and credible evidence. Accordingly, the Court affirmed the judgment. View "Langved v. Continental Resources, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs are current and former federal law enforcement employees and their spouses who were deceived into investing in a Ponzi scheme presenting as the Federal Employee Benefits Group (FEBG). Plaintiffs filed suit against the Government under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), 28 U.S.C. 1346(b)(1), for negligent conduct and aiding and abetting the scheme. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of the Government's motion to dismiss based on lack of subject matter jurisdiction and held that the misrepresentation exception applied to bar plaintiffs' claim. In this case, plaintiffs' claims arose out of Kenneth Wayne McLeod's misrepresentations about his bond fund. McLeod founded and ran the FEBG Bond Fund. View "Alvarez v. United States" on Justia Law

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Louisiana law recognizes the right to extract minerals separately from ownership of the land (mineral servitudes). Servitudes generally revert back to the landowner if not used for 10 years. The servitudes at issue were established in 1932-1934, by deeds contemplating the 10-year prescriptive period. From 1934-1937, the United States acquired 180,000 acres of the encumbered land in Kisatchie National Forest. In 1940, Louisiana’s Act 315 retroactively declared that outstanding mineral rights in land sold to the United States would be imprescriptible while the government remained the landowner. Nebo acquired mineral rights in 1942, believing its rights imprescriptible. The government sought a declaratory judgment. The Fifth Circuit held that Nebo’s rights to a specific tract were imprescriptible. In 1973, the Supreme Court held that Act 315 could not be applied retroactively to land acquired by the government under the Migratory Bird Conservation Act. The Court did not overrule Nebo, distinguishing its facts. The government began issuing mineral leases. Servitude owners sought declaratory relief. The Fifth Circuit held that Act 315 could not provide the federal rule of decision and that the Kisatchie servitudes had prescribed. The Supreme Court denied certiorari. One servitude holder sued in the Claims Court, based on the same facts. The Federal Circuit affirmed dismissal of permanent takings claims, contract claims, and some temporary takings claims under the statute of limitations. The Claims Court subsequently held that remaining temporary takings claims were barred by 28 U.S.C. 1500; because the judicial takings claim would require the Claims Court to question the merits of the Fifth Circuit’s decision it also lacked jurisdiction over those claims. View "Petro-Hunt, L.L.C. v. United States" on Justia Law