Justia Government & Administrative Law Opinion Summaries

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Torres started working for Precision in 2011. He was not then legally authorized to work in the U.S. but obtained work authorization about five months later. Torres listed a fake Social Security number on a tax form when he started the job. In May 2012, Torres injured his back at work. Precision did not pay all of the doctor's bills. Torres pursued a workers’ compensation claim. After receiving a September 2011 call from Torres’s lawyer, supervisors confronted Torres. Torres recorded their threatening and profanity-laced statements. Torres was immediately terminated.Torres sued, claiming Precision violated Tennessee law by firing him in retaliation for making a workers’ compensation claim. The district court rejected the claim, citing the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. On remand, the district court found Precision liable for retaliatory discharge and held that federal law did not preempt a damage award. The court awarded Torres backpay, compensatory damages for emotional distress, and punitive damages. The Sixth Circuit affirmed. Federal law makes it illegal to employ undocumented aliens, but Tennessee’s workers’ compensation law protects them. Because of federal law, the company cannot be required to pay lost wages that the alien was not allowed to earn; the employer is liable for wages the employee could have lawfully received, and for damages unrelated to the employee’s immigration status. View "Torres v. Precision Industries, Inc." on Justia Law

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Pro se petitioner-appellant John Minemyer appealed two orders from the United States Tax Court. The first order granted the Commissioner of Internal Revenue’s (“Commissioner’s”) Motion for Partial Summary Judgment and denied Minemyer’s Motion for Summary Judgment. The second order denied Minemyer’s Motion for Reconsideration. Neither order, however, was a final decision by the Tax Court. Further, Minemyer’s appeal of those orders did not ripen after the Tax Court issued an opinion, without a “decision,” addressing the only remaining claim. Accordingly, the Tenth Circuit dismissed Minemyer’s appeal for lack of appellate jurisdiction. View "Minemyer v. CIR" on Justia Law

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At Tax Court, the parties disagreed about what types of equipment fall within the definition of "logging equipment" exempt from ad valorem property taxation under ORS 307.27. Specifically, they disagreed about what types of equipment used for logging road work - logging road construction, maintenance, reconstruction, improvement, closure, or obliteration - fell within the definition. Plaintiff Bert Brundige, LLC argued that all types of equipment used for logging road work fell within the definition. Defendant, the Oregon Department of Revenue, argued that excavators were the only type of equipment used for logging road work that fell within the definition. The Tax Court agreed with defendant and entered a judgment in its favor. Plaintiff appealed. Finding no reversible error, the Oregon Supreme Court affirmed. View "Bert Brundige, LLC v. Dept. of Rev." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed an order of the circuit court finding in favor of Welspun Tubular, LLC in this challenge to a disallowed compensating-use-tax exemption, holding that the circuit court did not err.A "sales and use" tax audit of Welspun's books and records for the reporting periods May 1, 2009 through April 30, 2012 resulted in an assessment of compensating-use tax totaling $162,266 on Welspun's purchases of steel grit during the audit period. Welspun brought this suit, arguing that its grit purchases were tax exempt as the purchase of manufacturing equipment. The circuit court found for Welspun, concluding that the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration erred in assessing tax on Welspun's purchases of grit. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not clearly err in finding that the grit was used to manufacture an article of commerce. View "Walther v. Welspun Tubular, LLC" on Justia Law

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The FTC filed a complaint against Tucker alleging deceptive payday lending practices in violation of the Federal Trade Commission Act Section 5(a). The district court entered a permanent injunction to prevent Tucker from committing future violations and relied on the same authority to direct Tucker to pay $1.27 billion in restitution and disgorgement. The Ninth Circuit rejected Tucker’s argument that section 13(b) does not authorize the award of equitable monetary relief.The Supreme Court reversed. Section 13(b) does not authorize the Commission to seek, or a court to award, equitable monetary relief such as restitution or disgorgement. The Commission has authority to enforce the Act’s prohibitions on “unfair or deceptive acts or practices,” 15 U.S.C. 45(a)(1)–(2), by commencing administrative proceedings under Section 5. Section 5(l) authorizes the Commission, following completion of the administrative process and the issuance of a final cease and desist order, to seek civil penalties, and permits district courts to “grant mandatory injunctions and such other and further equitable relief.” Section 19 authorizes district courts to grant “such relief as the court finds necessary,” in cases where someone has engaged in unfair or deceptive conduct with respect to which the Commission has issued a final cease and desist order.In Tucker's case, the Commission sought equitable monetary relief directly in district court under Section 13(b)’s authorization to seek a “permanent injunction” without having used the Commission’s traditional administrative proceedings. Section 13(b) does not explicitly authorize the Commission to obtain court-ordered monetary relief, and such relief is foreclosed by the structure and history of the Act. It is unlikely that Congress, without mentioning the matter, would grant the Commission authority to circumvent traditional Section 5 administrative proceedings. In enacting Section 19 two years after Section 13(b), Congress did not create an alternative enforcement path with similar remedies. View "AMG Capital Management, LLC v. Federal Trade Commission" on Justia Law

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Petitioners, whose applications for disability benefits were denied by the Social Security Administration (SSA) unsuccessfully challenged their adverse determinations before an SSA administrative law judge (ALJ). The SSA Appeals Council denied discretionary review in each case. Thereafter, the Supreme Court decided Lucia v. SEC, holding that the appointment of Securities and Exchange Commission ALJs by lower-level staff violated the Constitution’s Appointments Clause. The SSA ALJs were also appointed by lower-level staff. The Courts of Appeals held that the petitioners could not obtain judicial review of their Appointments Clause claims because they failed to raise those challenges in their administrative proceedings. The Supreme Court reversed. The Courts of Appeals erred in imposing an issue-exhaustion requirement on petitioners’ Appointments Clause claims. Administrative review schemes commonly require parties to give the agency an opportunity to address an issue before seeking judicial review of that question. If no statute or regulation imposes an issue-exhaustion requirement, courts decide whether to require issue exhaustion based on “an analogy to the rule that appellate courts will not consider arguments not raised before trial courts.” In the context of petitioners’ Appointments Clause challenges, two considerations tip the scales against imposing an issue-exhaustion requirement: agency adjudications are generally ill-suited to address structural constitutional challenges, which usually fall outside the adjudicators’ areas of technical expertise, and the Supreme Court has consistently recognized a futility exception to exhaustion requirements. Petitioners assert purely constitutional claims about which SSA ALJs have no special expertise and for which they can provide no relief. View "Carr v. Saul" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed in part the decision of the Board of Tax Appeals (BTA) that upheld three use-tax assessments based on Appellant's purchase of three trucks, holding that the BTA erred by failing to correlate its findings with the distinct primary uses of the trucks.The trucks at issue were two Peterbilt trucks and one Lodal truck. Appellant argued that because it purchased the three trucks for use in its business as a for-hire motor carrier, the purchase were exempt from sales and use tax under Ohio Rev. Code 5739.02(B)(32)'s "highway transportation for hire" exemption. The tax commissioner and the BTA determined that the exemption did not apply to the purchases because Appellant's use of the trucks to transport waste material to landfills did not qualify as the transportation of "personal property belonging to others." The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding (1) for purposes of section 5739.02(B)(32), waste is "personal property belonging to" the person or entity that generated it when the person or entity has an agreement with the hauler that specifies where the waste is to be taken for disposal; and (2) because the generators of the waste hauled by the Peterbilt trucks designated the destination of the waste, the Peterbilt trucks were entitled to the exemption. View "N.A.T. Transportation, Inc. v. McClain" on Justia Law

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George Glassmeyer sent Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to the South Carolina Lottery Commission for information relating to million-dollar lottery winners. The Lottery Commission claimed the information sought was "personal" and "disclosure . . . would constitute unreasonable invasion of personal privacy." Instead, the Lottery Commission disclosed the hometown and state of each winner, the amount of each prize, the date of each prize, and the game associated with each prize. Glassmeyer responded that the Lottery Commission's disclosure did not satisfy his requests. The Lottery Commission then filed this lawsuit seeking a declaratory judgment that the release of lottery winners' names, addresses, telephone numbers, and forms of identification would constitute an unreasonable invasion of personal privacy under subsection 30-4-40(a)(2) and could be withheld. The Lottery Commission also sought injunctive relief preventing Glassmeyer from obtaining the information. The circuit court granted the Lottery Commission's motion and declared the release of the lottery winners' personal identifying information as an unreasonably invasion of personal privacy, and also entered an injunction permanently restraining Glassmeyer from seeking the lottery winners' full names, addresses, telephone numbers, and forms of identification. The court of appeals reversed, by the South Carolina Supreme Court reversed: "a proper injunction could restrict Glassmeyer only from seeking this information from the Lottery Commission. The Lottery Commission had no right to request an injunction permanently restraining Glassmeyer from seeking this information from any source, and the circuit court had no authority to prevent Glassmeyer from doing so." View "South Carolina Lottery Commission v. Glassmeyer" on Justia Law

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Developers submitted an application for a Berkeley mixed-use development with 135 apartments over 33,000 square feet of retail space and parking, pursuant to Government Code section 65913.4, which provides for streamlined, ministerial approval of affordable housing projects meeting specified requirements. The site is the location of the West Berkeley Shellmound, “believed to have been one of the first of its kind at the Bay’s edge, built ca 3,700 B.C.,” part of a City of Berkeley Landmark. Shellmounds were “sacred burial sites for the average deceased mound-dweller,” slowly constructed over thousands of years from daily debris and artifacts. The city denied the application.The court of appeal ruled in favor of the developers. There is no evidence that the project “would require the demolition of a historic structure that was placed on a . . . historic register.” Remnants and artifacts could be disturbed, but that is not the issue under section 65913.4(a)(7)(C). With regard to tribal cultural resources, the project’s draft environmental impact report concluded impacts on the Shellmound would be reduced to “a less-than-significant level” by agreed-upon mitigation measures. Given the Legislature’s history of attempting to address the state’s housing crisis and frustration with local governments’ interference with that goal, and the highly subjective nature of historical preservation, the intrusion of section 65913.4 into local authority is not broader than necessary to achieve the legislation's purpose. View "Ruegg & Ellsworth v. City of Berkeley" on Justia Law

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Karen and Jerome Schirado appealed a judgment granting the City of Glen Ullin and the Glen Ullin Park District permanent injunctive relief and awarding the Park District attorney’s fees. The Schirados owned land near both Park District and City property. In 2013, the Park District sued the Schirados to enjoin them from fencing and allowing their horses to graze on Park District lots. The Park District was granted default judgment. In 2019, the Park District and the City sued again, alleging the Schirados violated the 2013 judgment. The suit contained claims similar to the 2013 suit, with additional claims involving the City’s streets and alleys which were not involved in the original action. The Schirados conceded they placed fencing on the properties and allowed their horses to graze, but alleged they were given permission by the City. The district court granted a preliminary injunction in favor of the City and the Park District. The court found the Schirados in contempt of court because of their violation of the 2013 judgment, and awarded attorney’s fees and costs to the City and the Park District. The North Dakota Supreme Court reversed the judgment in favor of the City, and reversed and remanded the fee award for the district court to explain its rationale for the award, including which amount is a sanction for contempt, and which portion is allocated to each plaintiff. On remand, the Schirados moved a new trial, claiming Karen Schirado possessed additional testimony and evidence “necessary to allow her to fully present her case.” The district court denied the motion for trial and concluded the Schirados had two opportunities to present evidence of an oral or written agreement to use the City property and failed to do so. The court granted the City’s motion for summary judgment, concluding the Schirados failed to present admissible evidence in resistance to the City and Park District’s motion for summary judgment. The court also granted the City and the Park District permanent injunctive relief and awarded the Park District $5,460.00 in attorney’s fees. The Schirados appeal from the amended judgment. Finding no reversible error in the amendment judgment, the North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed. View "City of Glen Ullin, et al. v. Schirado, et al." on Justia Law