Justia Government & Administrative Law Opinion Summaries

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Midship Pipeline Company, L.L.C. challenged part of a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) order directing an administrative law judge to determine the “reasonable cost” for Midship to complete remediation activities at Sandy Creek Farms in Oklahoma.The Fifth Circuit disagreed with the FERC, finding that the matter was ripe for appeal. Further, the Fifth Circuit determined that the FERC order directing an administrative law judge to determine the “reasonable cost” of remediation activities was ultra vires because the FERC lacked authority under the Natural Gas Act (NGA) to do so. Thus, the court held that the FERC's action was ultra vires and vacated that portion of the Commission's order. The court remanded the remaining portion of the order to the FERC for further proceedings. View "Midship Pipeline v. FERC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the judgments of the lower courts in this appeal addressing mootness when a law challenged in the trial court is altered or amended after the trial court issued its final judgment and while the appeal is pending, holding that remand was required in this case.Plaintiffs filed a lawsuit against Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County (Metro) challenging an ordinance prohibiting them from having clients in their home-based businesses. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Metro. While Plaintiffs' appeal was pending, Metro repealed the ordinance at issue and enacted a new ordinance allowing limited client visits to home-based businesses. The court of appeals determined that Plaintiffs' case was moot. The Supreme Court vacated the judgments below and remanded the case to give the parties an opportunity to amend their pleadings to address any claims asserted under the new ordinance, holding that, based on the current record, it could not be determined whether Plaintiffs would suffer ongoing harm from the new ordinance, how the change could affect their claims, and whether they retained a residual claim under the new ordinance. View "Shaw v. Metropolitan Government of Nashville" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Yesenia Pacheco sought contraception from Neighborcare Health, a federally funded community health center, “to prevent the birth of an unwanted child.” The method Pacheco and her care providers selected was Depo-Provera, “a highly effective” injectable contraceptive medication that “must be administered on a timely basis every eleven to thirteen weeks.” Pacheco received regular Depo-Provera injections from December 2009 until July 2011. On September 30, 2011 for her next scheduled appointment, a medical assistant “mistakenly injected [Pacheco] with a flu vaccine instead.” The medical assistant “failed to confirm why Ms. Pacheco was there, to document consent to the flu vaccine or a change in the orders, or to advise Ms. Pacheco of the side effects of a flu shot and/or the consequences of skipping a Depo-Provera injection.” Neighborcare did not inform Pacheco of its mistake until December 2011, when she sought an appointment for her next Depo-Provera injection. At that time, Neighborcare asked Pacheco to come to the clinic for a pregnancy test, which was positive. Plaintiff S.L.P. was born to Pacheco and plaintiff Luis Lemus, diagnosed with perisylvian polymicrogyria (PMG), a congenital defect resulting in permanent disabilities. In March 2017, Pacheco, Lemus, and S.L.P. filed an amended complaint against the United States pursuant to the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) at the federal district court for the Western District of Washington, seeking damages relating to Pacheco’s pregnancy and S.L.P.’s PMG. The federal district court certified a question of law to the Washington Supreme Court, asking whether a patient who received negligent reproductive health care could recover all damages proximately caused by the provider’s negligence, regardless of the patient’s reason for seeking care. To this, the Supreme Court answered yes: if any Washington health care provider breaches their duty “to follow the accepted standard of care,” then damages proximately caused by the provider’s negligence may be recovered upon the necessary factual findings. Where negligent contraceptive care results in the birth of a child, and that child has a congenital defect, the provider may be liable for damages relating to the child’s condition. Such liability does not require proof that the child was at a known, heightened risk for developing congenital defects or that the patient sought contraception for the specific purpose of preventing the birth of a child with congenital defects. View "Pacheco v. United States" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals denying a writ of mandamus against the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, Annette Chambers-Smith, the Ohio Adult Parole Authority, and the Ohio Bureau of Sentencing Computation (collectively, DRC), holding that there was no error.Appellant, an inmate, filed an original action in the court of appeal seeking a writ of mandamus to compel DRC to correct what he alleged were inaccurate records pertaining to him and alleging that he had a right to be released from custody under Ohio Rev. Code 2967.15(B). The court of appeals denied the writ. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Appellant failed to show error, let alone plain error, in the judgment of the court of appeals. View "State ex rel. Anderson v. Chambers-Smith" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part rulings made by the State Corporation Commission during its triennial review of Appalachian Power Company's rates, terms, and conditions pursuant to Va. Code 56.585.1, holding that remand was required for further proceedings.Specifically, the Supreme Court held that the Commission (1) erred in finding that it was not reasonable for Appalachian to record its costs associated with the early retirement of its coal-fired power plants as asset impairments; (2) did not err when it implemented depreciation rates from the revised 2017 Depreciation Study for the years 2018 and 2019 in the triennial review; (3) did not err by refusing to apply Va. Code 56-585.1(E) retroactively; and (4) did not err in finding Appalachian's affiliate costs under an Inter-Company Power Agreement with Ohio Valley Electric Cooperation to be reasonable. View "Appalachian Power Co. v. State Corp. Commission" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the appellate court upholding the trial court's determination affirming the decision of the Board of Review of The Employment Security Appeals Division that tattoo services are part of the usual course of business of a body art and piercing business for purposes of the statutory ABC test used to determined whether an individual is an employee for purposes of the Unemployment Compensation Act, Conn. Gen. Stat. 31-222 et seq., holding that there was no error.Plaintiff, a business that provides body piercing and body art services, argued on appeal that the Board acted unreasonably and arbitrarily in holding it liable for unpaid unemployment compensation contributions after concluding that the offering of tattoo services was within Plaintiff's usual course of business. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that substantial evidence existed to support the Board's determination that tattoo services were within Plaintiff's "usual course of business" for purposes of part B of the ABC test. See Conn. Gen. Stat. 31-222(a)(1)(B)(ii)(II). View "Vogue v. Administrator, Unemployment Compensation Act" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit dismissed Petitioner's petition for review of an immigration judge's (IJ) denial of his application for withholding of removal and protection under the Convention Against Torture and denied Petitioner's petition to review the Board of Immigration Appeals' (BIA) denial of his motion to reopen proceedings, holding that Petitioner was not entitled to relief.On January 16, 2020, the BIA dismissed Petitioner's appeal of the IJ's denial of his application for withholding of removal and protection under CAT. On June 10, 2020, the BIA denied Petitioner's motion to reopen. Petitioner petitioned for review of both decisions. The First Circuit held (1) Petitioner's petition for review was untimely as to the January 16 decision; and (2) the BIA did not err by denying Petitioner's motion to reopen his orders of removal. View "Sarmiento v. Garland" on Justia Law

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The California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (Department) suspended the license of real party in interest, Bogle Vineyards, Inc. (Bogle), for 10 days after finding that Bogle violated Business and Professions Code section 25502 (a)(2) by furnishing, giving, or lending a “thing of value”—a nonoperational pizza oven—to a Raley’s grocery store as part of a promotional display. The pizza oven was part of a Bogle point-of-sale promotional campaign highlighting pizza month, in which a customer would receive $4 off a pizza with the purchase of a bottle of Bogle wine. Bogle provided a guidance packet on the promotion for its employees and wholesaler which stated in part that “[i]f buyers are still w[]ary, FYI the ovens ‘don’t work’ without propane AND the regulators can be removed, if needed.” It also showed how the pizza ovens were to be set up in the displays. Bogle paid for the pizza oven promotional campaign. Raley's store #119 received an oven for use in the display, but did not fully assemble the oven per instructions. As a result, the oven was inoperative when placed in the display at the store. Later, an agent for Bogle returned to store #119 ti discuss the display; the display had been removed, and the oven parts not used in assembly, had disappeared. An ALJ determined that while Bogle did not intend to "gift" the ovens to retailers in exchange for prominent displays in their stores, the "net result" was an unlawful furnishing in violation of the statute. Bogle appealed the Department’s decision to the Alcoholic Beverage Control Appeals Board (Board), and the Board reversed the suspension, calling the Department’s result “absurd.” It concluded that the Department’s decision that the pizza oven was a “thing of value” was inaccurate as a matter of law and was not supported by substantial evidence because there was no evidence presented that Raley’s reassembled the pizza oven or removed the pizza stone for use. It therefore found the Department’s result was based on speculation and conjecture and was not within the spirit or letter of the law. It accordingly reversed the Department’s decision. The Court of Appeal agreed with Bogle that the Department erred in finding the inoperative pizza oven, used solely for the purposes of a temporary promotional display, was a "thing of value" under the statute. View "Dept. of Alcoholic Beverage Control v. Alcoholic Beverage etc." on Justia Law

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In 2002, Petitioner Mayra Estrada-Cardona entered the United States on a tourist visa which she subsequently overstayed. She resided in the United States with her two United States citizen children: A.E. and L.E. A.E. suffers from mental and physical disabilities, some of which are likely to be lifelong. While in the United States, Petitioner played a key role in ensuring A.E. received physical therapy and special education support—both vital to A.E.’s wellbeing and continued progress. In 2009, Petitioner was arrested for driving without a license. She pled guilty and paid the associated fines, but because of the traffic violation, Immigration and Customs Enforcement detained Petitioner and began removal proceedings. At the hearing, Petitioner appeared unrepresented and conceded the charge contained in the notice to appear—rendering her removable. At the time, Petitioner was in the country for at most seven years, making her statutorily ineligible for any discretionary relief from removal. The immigration judge therefore ordered Petitioner to voluntarily depart the United States. Every year—from 2013 to 2017—Petitioner requested a stay of removal, and every year ICE approved her request. ICE denied her most recent request on December 28, 2017. ICE did not take any immediate action to remove Petitioner from the United States, only requiring her to attend regular check-ins at the local ICE office. ICE finally detained Petitioner and initiated removal on September 30, 2020. Petitioner asked the BIA to reopen removal proceedings pursuant to Pereira v. Sessions, 138 S. Ct. 2105 (2018). Petitioner's notice to appear failed to specify the “time and place at which the proceedings will be held.” Because the notice to appear did not stop the clock, Petitioner insisted that she had the requisite presence to be eligible for cancellation of removal because she had been in the country for 16 years. BIA held Petitioner was not eligible for cancellation of removal because the immigration judge issued the order to voluntarily depart, which qualified as a final order of removal, when Petitioner had accrued, at most, eight years of physical presence. The Tenth Circuit rejected the BIA's final-order argument, holding that a final order of removal did not stop the accrual of continuous physical presence. View "Estrada-Cardona v. Garland" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed this original action seeking a writ of mandamus against Geauga County ordering the county to proceed under Ohio Rev. Code 305.14 with the submission and approval of Judge Timothy Grendell's application for appointment of counsel, holding that the case was moot.Judge Grendell, judge of the Geauga County Court of Common Pleas, brought this action seeking a writ of mandamus and also filed a motion for a peremptory writ of mandamus and a motion to strike the County's notice of mootness. The Supreme Court denied the motion to strike as futile, dismissed the case, and denied Judge Grendell's motion for a peremptory writ, holding that the case was moot. View "State ex rel. Grendell v. Geauga County Board of Commissioners" on Justia Law