Justia Government & Administrative Law Opinion Summaries

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In a dispute between Valley Hospital Medical Center and the National Labor Relations Board, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit denied the Hospital's petition for review, granted the Board's cross-application for enforcement, and enforced the Board's order. The court previously remanded the case to the Board to better explain its decision that an employer may unilaterally cease union dues checkoff after the expiration of a collective bargaining agreement. Upon remand, the Board reversed its prior decision, readopting its rule prohibiting employers from unilaterally ceasing dues checkoff after expiration of a collective bargaining agreement, and found that Valley Hospital engaged in an unfair labor practice. Valley Hospital contended that the Board exceeded its mandate from the court, which only authorized supplementing its reasoning, not changing its interpretation of the National Labor Relations Act. However, the Ninth Circuit held that its earlier mandate did not explicitly prohibit the Board from reconsidering its rule, so the Board was not bound by its prior decision. The court also found that the Board's new decision was rational and consistent with the Act. Thus, the Board's order was enforced. View "NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD V. VALLEY HOSPITAL MEDICAL CENTER, INC." on Justia Law

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The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that employers cannot unilaterally stop deducting union dues from employee paychecks after the expiration of a collective bargaining agreement. The case involved Valley Hospital Medical Center and Desert Springs Hospital Medical Center (collectively known as the "Hospitals") and the Service Employees International Union, Local 1107 ("the Union”). The Union and the Hospitals had entered into collective bargaining agreements that included checkoff provisions requiring the Hospitals to deduct union dues from participating employees’ paychecks and to remit those dues to the Union. After the agreements expired, the Hospitals ceased dues checkoff, arguing that the written assignments authorizing this did not include express language concerning revocability upon expiration of the collective bargaining agreement. They believed this omission violated the Labor Management Relations Act, also known as the Taft-Hartley Act. The Union filed unfair labor practice charges, and the National Labor Relations Board determined that the Hospitals had committed an unfair labor practice by unilaterally ceasing dues checkoff. The court held that the Taft-Hartley Act did not require specific language in the written assignments, so the Hospitals could not rely on that statute to justify their unilateral action. Consequently, the court granted the Board’s application for enforcement, denied the Hospitals' petition for review, and enforced the Board’s order in full. View "NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD V. VALLEY HEALTH SYSTEM, LLC DBA DESERT SPRINGS HOSPITAL MEDICAL CENT" on Justia Law

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In this case, the Supreme Court of the State of Colorado was called upon to decide a matter related to the Colorado Governmental Immunity Act (CGIA). The case involved a wrongful death action brought by the family and estate representatives of two brothers, Walter and Samuel Giron, who died when Officer Justin Hice accidentally collided with their van while pursuing a suspected speeder. Officer Hice and his employer, the Town of Olathe, claimed immunity under the CGIA. The Plaintiffs countered that the Defendants were not entitled to immunity because Officer Hice failed to use his emergency lights or siren continuously while speeding before the accident.The court had to interpret the CGIA and related traffic code provisions to determine the relevant time period for an officer’s failure to use emergency alerts. The court concluded that the CGIA requires a minimal causal connection between a plaintiff’s injuries and the fact that an officer did not use emergency signals while speeding. This means that an officer has access to immunity while speeding only during those times when the officer is using alerts.The court disagreed with the lower court's interpretation that an officer who fails to use his alerts at any point during the pursuit waives immunity for the entire pursuit. Instead, the court held that under section 24-10-106(1)(a) an emergency driver waives immunity only if the plaintiff’s injuries could have resulted from the emergency driver’s failure to use alerts.The court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals and remanded the case for the court of appeals to determine if Officer Hice’s failure to use his lights or siren until the final five to ten seconds of his pursuit could have contributed to the accident. View "Hice v. Giron" on Justia Law

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In November 2018, Joseph Hoskins was stopped by a Utah state trooper, Jared Withers, because his Illinois license plate was partially obscured. The situation escalated when Trooper Withers conducted a dog sniff of the car, which led him to search the car and find a large amount of cash. Mr. Hoskins was arrested, and his DNA was collected. Mr. Hoskins sued Trooper Withers and Jess Anderson, Commissioner of the Utah Department of Public Safety, alleging violations of the First and Fourth Amendments and state law.The United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit held that Trooper Withers had reasonable suspicion to conduct the traffic stop because Utah law requires license plates to be legible, and this applies to out-of-state plates. The court also found that the dog sniff did not unlawfully prolong the traffic stop, as Mr. Hoskins was searching for his proof of insurance at the time. The court ruled that the trooper's protective measures, including pointing a gun at Mr. Hoskins, handcuffing him, and conducting a patdown, did not elevate the stop into an arrest due to Mr. Hoskins's confrontational behavior.The court further held that the dog's reaction to the car created arguable probable cause to search the car and that the discovery of a large amount of cash provided arguable probable cause to arrest Mr. Hoskins. The court found that Trooper Withers did not violate any clearly established constitutional rights by pointing a gun at Mr. Hoskins in retaliation for protected speech or as excessive force. Lastly, the court found no violation of Mr. Hoskins's due process rights related to the handling of his DNA sample, as neither the Due Process Clause nor state law created a protected interest in a procedure to ensure the destruction of his DNA sample. View "Hoskins v. Withers" on Justia Law

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In 2016, Venezuela's state-owned oil company, Petróleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA), offered a bond swap whereby its noteholders could exchange unsecured notes due in 2017 for new, secured notes due in 2020. PDVSA defaulted in 2019, and the National Assembly of Venezuela passed a resolution declaring the bond swap a "national public contract" requiring its approval under Article 150 of the Venezuelan Constitution. PDVSA, along with its subsidiaries PDVSA Petróleo S.A. and PDV Holding, Inc., initiated a lawsuit seeking a judgment declaring the 2020 Notes and their governing documents "invalid, illegal, null, and void ab initio, and thus unenforceable." The case was taken to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, which certified three questions to the New York Court of Appeals.The New York Court of Appeals, in answering the first question, ruled that Venezuelan law governs the validity of the notes under Uniform Commercial Code § 8-110 (a) (1), which encompasses plaintiffs' arguments concerning whether the issuance of the notes was duly authorized by the Venezuelan National Assembly under the Venezuelan Constitution. However, New York law governs the transaction in all other respects, including the consequences if a security was "issued with a defect going to its validity." Given the court's answer to the first certified question, it did not answer the remaining questions. View "Petróleos de Venezuela S.A. v MUFG Union Bank, N.A." on Justia Law

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This case concerns the standard of review that the Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Community Health must apply when reviewing the decision of a hearing officer on an application for a certificate of need to establish a new health service. The Supreme Court of Georgia vacated the Court of Appeals’ judgment, set forth the standard applicable to the Commissioner’s review, and remanded the case to the Court of Appeals. The Supreme Court clarified that "competent substantial evidence" in the context of the Commissioner's review means evidence that is "relevant" such that "a reasonable mind might accept it as adequate to support" a finding of fact, and that is admissible. The court also determined that the Commissioner must provide sufficient detail in his order from which a reviewing court can determine whether the Commissioner has or has not improperly substituted his judgment for the findings of fact of the hearing officer. View "VANTAGE CANCER CENTERS OF GEORGIA, LLC v. GEORGIA DEPARTMENT OF COMMUNITY HEALTH" on Justia Law

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In this case, defendant Charles Yeager-Reiman, a veteran, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor grand theft in connection with fraudulent activities related to veterans' benefits from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Yeager-Reiman appealed his conviction, arguing that his prosecution was preempted by federal law, as his offenses concerned the theft of benefits from the VA.The Court of Appeal of the State of California Second Appellate District Division Five disagreed with Yeager-Reiman's contention, and affirmed the lower court's judgement. The court ruled that federal preemption did not apply in this case. While federal law establishes the guidelines and regulations for VA benefits, it does not prohibit state-level criminal prosecutions for fraudulent activities related to these benefits.In terms of field preemption, the court determined that the provisions of the federal law did not indicate an intent by Congress to occupy the field of criminal prosecution of veterans in connection with the theft of VA benefits. As for obstacle preemption, the court found that allowing state-level prosecutions for theft of VA benefits actually promotes Congress's purpose of aiding veterans by preserving funds for veterans' benefits through deterrence.Therefore, the court concluded that neither field preemption nor obstacle preemption deprived the trial court of jurisdiction to hear Yeager-Reiman's case. View "People v. Yeager-Reiman" on Justia Law

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Inmate Germaine Smart alleged that prison officials Ronald England, Gary Malone, and Larry Baker violated his First Amendment rights by retaliating against him for reporting an alleged sexual assault by England. Smart claimed that England sexually assaulted him during a pat-down search, but after an internal investigation, Smart's allegations were found to be unfounded and England charged Smart with lying. The United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit ruled that the officials did not violate Smart's First Amendment rights. The court stated that a prisoner's violation of a prison regulation is not protected by the First Amendment, and in this case, the prison tribunal's finding that Smart lied, which was based on due process and some evidence, was conclusive. Therefore, the officials were entitled to qualified immunity. View "Smart v. England" on Justia Law

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In this case, the Los Angeles County District Attorney appealed an order denying the prosecution’s attempt to reinstate charges accusing two defendants, Woodrow Kim and Jonathan Miramontes, of filing false peace officer reports. The charges were related to a police incident involving a high-speed chase and subsequent officer-involved shooting. The defendants, both deputies with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, were accused of falsely reporting that a suspect, Martinez, had walked into their patrol vehicle and remained standing, when in fact, video evidence showed that the patrol car’s door had hit Martinez with enough force to knock him to the ground. The Court of Appeal of the State of California, Second Appellate District, Division Five, reversed the lower court's decision, concluding that there was a rational basis for believing that both deputies had filed false reports in violation of Penal Code section 118.1. The court ordered the lower court to reinstate the complaint and return the matter to the magistrate for further proceedings. View "P. v. Kim" on Justia Law

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In July 2018, Brian Lawler, a pretrial detainee, committed suicide at a county jail in Hardeman County, Tennessee. Lawler's father, Jerry Lawler, brought a lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that the officers had been deliberately indifferent to the risk that Brian would commit suicide. The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit held that the officers were entitled to qualified immunity because the laws in place at the time of the suicide did not clearly establish that the officers’ actions violated the Constitution. The court noted that in 2018, to hold officers liable for failing to prevent a pretrial detainee’s suicide, it was necessary to prove that the officers subjectively believed there was a strong likelihood the inmate would commit suicide. The evidence showed that the officers did not subjectively believe that Lawler was likely to take his life. Therefore, the court reversed the district court’s denial of qualified immunity to the officers. View "Lawler v. Hardeman County" on Justia Law