Justia Government & Administrative Law Opinion Summaries

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The Supreme Court vacated the environmental court's orders granting partial summary judgment and the ensuing order entering final judgment in favor of the Department of Water, County of Kaua'i (KDOW) in this transfer case addressing the required scope of environmental review under the Hawai'i Environmental Police Act (HEPA) and its administrative rules, holding that KDOW must prepare a new environmental assessment (EA) that complies with HEPA and its administrative rules.KDOW proposed to install an eighteen-inch-diamter water transmission in the Lihu'e area (relief line) that would run 9,000 feet in length and connect to existing KDOW water lines on each end. Pursuant to HEPA, KDOW published a final environmental assessment (FEA) for the relief line and made a finding of no significant impact. Plaintiff challenged the FEA in the environmental court, and the court granted summary judgment for KDOW. The Supreme Court vacated the decision below, holding that KDOW did not properly analyze the impact of water withdrawals facilitated by the relief line and may have improperly segmented the relief line from planned development projects and a water treatment facility project. View "Kia’i Wai O Wai’Ale’Ale v. Dep't of Water, County of Kaua'i" on Justia Law

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Claimant Joseph Worrall challenged an Employment Security Board decision finding him ineligible for unemployment compensation and liable to the Vermont Department of Labor for an overpayment. In November 2020, a claims adjudicator found that claimant was disqualified from receiving benefits as of the week ending May 2, 2020, because he left his employment voluntarily without good cause attributable to his employer. The claims adjudicator determined that claimant was obligated to repay $15,028 in overpaid benefits. Claimant argues on appeal that the Board erred in finding him disqualified for benefits. According to claimant, the Board accepted that he undertook efforts to relocate out of state before receiving a return-to-work notice. Based on this premise, claimant asserts that he was “unavailable for work” at the time his employer offered him the opportunity to return and that he was therefore entitled to benefits. Finding no error in the Board's decision, the Vermont Supreme Court affirmed. View "Worrall v. Department of Labor (Snowfire Ltd., Employer)" on Justia Law

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The United States District Court for the District of Oregon certified two questions of law to the Oregon Supreme Court. Plaintiff, through a conservator, brought this action after he suffered catastrophic brain damage at the hands of his mother’s boyfriend. Plaintiff alleged that those injuries were caused by the failure of defendants— Jefferson County, Jefferson County Deputy Sheriff Anderson, and Warm Springs Police Department Officer Aryanfard— to respond to an earlier report of child abuse in the manner that Oregon law required. Specifically, plaintiff alleged he had suffered abuse from the boyfriend a month earlier, that medical personnel had reported those injuries to defendants, and that defendants had negligently failed to take certain actions required by Oregon statutes that governed the reporting of child abuse. Plaintiff also alleged a claim under Oregon’s Vulnerable Person Act, ORS 124.100-124.140, which created a statutory private right of action for enhanced damages against a person who has caused, or “permitt[ed] another person to engage in,” financial or physical abuse of a vulnerable person. Before any litigation of plaintiff’s factual allegations, the parties identified two unresolved questions about the meaning of the Oregon statutes on which plaintiff had based his claims, and the district court certified two questions: (1) whether a claim for Abuse of a Vulnerable Person under ORS § 124.100 et seq., was available against public bodies; and (2) whether a violation of Oregon’s mandatory child abuse reporting law serve as a basis for statutory liability. With respect to Oregon’s Vulnerable Person Act, the Supreme Court concluded that a claim under that act was available against a public body, through the Oregon Tort Claims Act (OTCA), when the claim is based on the acts or omissions of officers, employees, or agents of the public body acting within the scope of their employment or duties. With respect to the "statutory liability," the Court concluded that the Oregon legislature did not intend to create a statutory private right of action to address violations of the duties that the child-abuse-reporting statutes plausibly may have imposed on defendants in this case: duties that apply to law enforcement agencies that have received, and personnel who are investigating, an existing report of child abuse. View "E. J. T. v. Jefferson County" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part the judgment of the circuit court dismissing Appellant's complaint challenging the certification of the House District 25 (HD 25) Republican primary race by the Crawford County Board of Election Commissioners (CBEC), holding that the circuit court erred in concluding that it lacked the authority to transfer this matter.Appellant filed a complaint challenging the CBEC's certification, claiming that the HD25 Republican primary election results were unreliable and praying that the circuit court void either the CBEC's certification of the HD25 race or void the HD25 election. The circuit court granted Appellees' motion to dismiss, finding that the complaint was not filed in the proper county, that the court had no jurisdiction to hear the matter, and that venue was improper. The circuit court further denied Appellant's oral motion to transfer the case to Crawford County. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding that the circuit court (1) properly ruled that Appellant incorrectly filed her postelection contest in Franklin County rather than in Crawford County; but (2) abused its discretion by denying Appellant's motion to transfer the case to Crawford County. View "Harris v. Crawford County Bd. of Election Commissioners" on Justia Law

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In 1993, Kastman was charged with misdemeanor offenses based on acts of public indecency involving children and disorderly conduct. The state’s attorney initiated a civil commitment proceeding against Kastman under the Sexually Dangerous Persons Act (725 ILCS 205/0.01). Evidence indicated that Kastman suffered from pedophilia, antisocial personality disorder, exhibitionism, and alcohol dependency. Kastman was found to be a sexually dangerous person, and the circuit court granted the petition. In 2016, Kastman was granted conditional release from institutional care.In 2020, he sought financial assistance. Kastman asserted that he was unemployed, disabled, and could not afford his $300 monthly treatment costs and the $1800 monthly rent for housing that complied with the Sex Offender Registration Act. The circuit court of Lake County ordered the Department of Corrections to pay a portion of Kastman’s monthly expenses. The appellate court and Illinois Supreme Court affirmed. The statutes indicate that a sex offender’s ability to pay is a relevant consideration in deciding who should bear the expense of treatment costs; without a clear statutory directive, the legislature is not presumed to have intended that only financially stable individuals are eligible for conditional release. Financial instability and the need for supervision to protect the public are not the same things. View "People v. Kastman" on Justia Law

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Noland and Clayborne (plaintiffs) are former members of the General Assembly who voted for laws that reduced legislators’ salaries. After leaving office, plaintiffs filed suit, alleging that the reductions violated article IV, section 11, of the Illinois Constitution (Legislative Salary Clause) and sought a writ of mandamus compelling the Illinois Comptroller to pay them and all affected legislators their disputed salaries. The Cook County circuit court found that the affirmative defenses of laches and waiver failed as a matter of law and that the statute of limitations defense lacked merit. The court also found that, although plaintiffs were entitled to relief for themselves, they could not obtain relief on behalf of nonparty legislators. The court found that the laws at issue were facially unconstitutional and that the plaintiffs were entitled to mandamus relief.The Illinois Supreme Court reversed. The plaintiffs, suing in their individual and not in their official capacity, have “slept on their rights” and are estopped from bringing their claims. The "public was misled by these plaintiffs," who waited to file their action until eight years elapsed following the enactment of the fiscal 2010 Salary Reduction Laws and all subsequent enactments. The court vacated findings that the Salary Clause prohibits mid-term changes in legislators’ salaries and awards of $71,507.43 for Noland and $104,412.93 for Clayborne. View "Noland v. Mendoza" on Justia Law

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A public body has five-10 business days to respond to a request for information under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) (5 ILCS 140/3(d), (e)). In 2014, the Chicago Police Department (CPD) received FOIA requests from local newspapers for information relating to citizen complaints filed against Chicago police officers since 1967. The Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) sought to enjoin the release of files that were more than four years old; its collective bargaining agreement required the destruction of records of alleged police misconduct at that age. The court granted the FOP an injunction prohibiting the release of files that were more than four years old as of the date of the newspapers’ FOIA request. . Meanwhile, Green, who was convicted in 1986 of offenses arising from a quadruple homicide, became aware that files he wants could be destroyed. He hopes to prove his innocence by exposing police misconduct. Green sent CPD a FOIA request. CPD did not respond.The Illinois Supreme Court held that unless the FOIA exemption states otherwise, the circuit court should review the withholding of information under the circumstances that existed when the public body made its decision. If the information becomes releasable later, a requester may refile his request. When CPD constructively denied Green’s request, an injunction barred CPD from releasing responsive files that were more than four years old. The subsequent invalidation of the injunction was immaterial. View "Green v. Chicago Police Department" on Justia Law

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The building at 1572 North Milwaukee Avenue in Chicago is owned by the Corporation. Strauss was the Corporation’s president. Double Door Liquors, a music venue, was a tenant in the building. Numerous difficulties arose with Double Door, including lease violations, excessive noise levels, illegal drug use, alcohol abuse, and property damage. The Corporation terminated Double Door’s lease and filed an eviction action, which led to Double Door’s eviction. Subsequently, Chicago enacted a zoning ordinance that changed the types of establishments that were allowed in the building.Strauss challenged the zoning ordinance and certain conduct of alderman Moreno and the city that occurred before the zoning ordinance was enacted. The appellate court and Illinois Supreme Court affirmed the dismissal of the complaint. The court found that the plaintiffs had standing despite a misnomer in the complaint and that not all of the claims were moot, despite the sale of the building. Because Moreno is not liable for injuries resulting from his conduct due to discretionary immunity under the Local Governmental and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act, 745 ILCS 10/2-10, Chicago is likewise not liable. The court declined to address the constitutionality of the zoning ordinance that applies to one piece of property that the Corporation has sold. View "Strauss v. City of Chicago" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals concluding that Claimant's claim for disability benefits was not barred by res judicata and that the Workers' Compensation Board misconstrued the reopening statute, Ky. Rev. Stat. 342.125(1)(d) and (2), holding that the court of appeals did not err.In 2017, Claimant received a work-related injury, and an administrative law judge (ALJ) awarded her temporary total disability benefits. In 2019, Claimant alleged a worsening of her condition, and her claim was reopened pursuant to section 342.125(1)(d). An ALJ awarded Claimant permanent partial disability benefits and future medical benefits. The Board reversed, holding that the ALJ's original decision was supported by substantial evidence and therefore was res judicata. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that the Board misconstrued section 342.125 and erred in its res judicata analysis. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that nothing in the plain language of section 342.125 precludes reopening of a temporary disability award. View "Lakshmi Narayan Hospitality Group Louisville v. Jimenez" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court granted a writ of mandamus ordering the Mahoning County Board of Elections to place Eric Ungaro's name on the November 2022 general election ballot as an independent candidate for the office of state representative, holding that Ungaro successfully established that he was entitled to the writ.Ungaro filed a statement of candidacy and nominating petition to run as an independent candidate for the office of state representative of the 59th Ohio House District in the November 2022 general election. The Board rejected the petition by a vote of three to one. Ungaro then filed this action seeking a writ of mandamus ordering the Board to place his name on the ballot. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Board abused its discretion by invalidating Ungaro's petition in an arbitrary fashion. View "State ex rel. Ungaro v. Mahoning County Bd. of Elections" on Justia Law