by
The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the decision of the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission not to award Appellant benefits after he was injured while renovating a historic school building, holding that Appellant did not meet his burden of proving his statutory-employer claim for workers’ compensation benefits. Appellant sought benefits against a church and its historical society, alleging that these entities were his statutory employers. The Commission denied benefits, holding that none of the defendants were Appellant’s direct employer and that the church and the historical society were not Appellant’s statutory employers. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Commission applied the correct legal standard and acted within its fact-finding discretion in concluding that Appellant had failed to prove that the church or the historical society were his statutory employers. View "Jeffreys v. Uninsured Employer's Fund" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the court of appeals’ denial of Appellant’s petition for a writ of mandamus in this workers’ compensation case, holding that the Industrial Commission did not abuse its discretion by concluding that res judicata barred Appellant’s motion to recalculate his average weekly wage (AWW). In challenging the calculation of his AWW, Appellant requested that the Commission forgo the standard statutory formal and to instead calculate his AWW using a method that would do him “substantial justice,” as statutorily permitted in cases of “special circumstances.” The Commission denied the motion, first on the merits and second on grounds of res judicata. The court of appeals denied Appellant’s petition for a writ of mandamus, concluding that Appellant had not established special circumstances. The Supreme Court affirmed the denial of the writ solely on the basis of res judicata, holding that the Commission did not abuse its discretion when it concluded that the issue of special circumstances was previously decided and therefore res judicata. View "State ex rel. Tantarelli v. Decapua Enterprises, Inc." on Justia Law

by
N.L. was born in August 2014. In January 2016, she was taken into state custody because both parents were using illicit substances, father was facing jail time on a charge alleging domestic abuse against mother, and mother was unable to care for the child due to her drug addiction and homelessness. N.L. spent several months in foster care. A conditional custody order (CCO) returned N.L. to mother’s care after mother completed a substance-abuse program, and they resided for several months in a residential treatment program at Lund Family Center. The CCO remained in effect until February 27, 2017, when the Department for Children and Families (DCF) closed the case. The underlying case was initiated based on an incident that occurred in August 2017, at which time DCF was investigating reports of drug use and domestic violence in the home. The family division of the superior court granted a petition to terminate mother’s parental rights to her child, N.L., but denied the petition concerning father. Mother appealed the termination of her parental rights, and N.L. appealed the court’s decision not to terminate father’s parental rights. After careful review of the trial court record, the Vermont Supreme Court affirmed termination of mother’s parental rights and reversed the court’s order declining to terminate father’s parental rights. The matter was remanded for the limited purpose of directing the family division to grant the petition to terminate father’s parental rights. View "In re N.L." on Justia Law

by
Hany Dimitry obtained a coastal development permit (CDP) from the City of Laguna Beach (the City) to demolish his Laguna Beach house. Mark Fudge challenged the permit, appealing to the California Coastal Commission (the Commission), and at court, to attach the merits of the City’s decision to grant Dimitry the CDP. The Commission accepted Fudge’s appeal, which meant it would hear that appeal “de novo.” Because the Commission’s hearing would be “de novo,” the trial court followed Kaczorowski v. Mendocino County Bd. of Supervisors, 88 Cal.App.4th 564 (2001) and McAllister v. County of Monterey, 147 Cal.App.4th 253 (2007) in concluding that there was no relief that Fudge might be able to obtain in his court action. The trial court concluded Fudge’s challenge to Dimitry’s CDP was entirely in the hands of the Commission, and dismissed the civil action. Fudge appealed, arguing the Commission’s hearing was not going to be truly “de novo” because the Commission would use different rules and procedures than the City used. When it comes to a local coastal entity’s decision on a CDP, the Court of Appeal determined the Legislature constructed a system in which appeals to the Commission would be heard de novo under the Coastal Act even though the original local decision was decided under CEQA. “Fudge’s mistake lies in his belief the Legislature was bound by the Collier court’s observation about de novo hearings being conducted in ‘the same manner’ as the original. We must disagree. It’s the other way around.” The Court determined the Legislature was not bound by the California Supreme Court’s observation about the common law nature of “de novo” hearings. Rather the courts were bound by the intent of the Legislature as to what the hearings would look like – plainly expressed in Public Resources Code section 21080.5. Therefore, the Court affirmed dismissal of the state court action. View "Fudge v. City of Laguna Beach" on Justia Law

by
Cerwonka, a full-time clinical psychologist for the VA in Alexandria, Louisiana, also maintained a private practice and evaluated social security disability applicants. An administrative complaint was filed against Cerwonka with the Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists, which revoked Cerwonka’s license to practice psychology in Louisiana for cause. The VA Chief of Staff proposed to remove Cerwonka for failure to maintain a current license, citing 38 U.S.C. 7402(f). Cerwonka did not respond to the notice of proposed removal. The deciding official sustained the charge and informed Cerwonka that he would be removed from employment. Cerwonka appealed to the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB). He also filed suit challenging the license revocation, asserting due process violations. One month after his removal the Louisiana district court judge reinstated Cerwonka’s license, pending further proceedings. A Louisiana Court of Appeal reversed the district court’s decision and remanded. The MSPB and Federal Circuit upheld his removal from employment. It is undisputed that, at the time of his removal, Cerwonka’s Louisiana license was revoked for cause, which compelled the agency to remove Cerwonka from his position as a psychologist under 38 U.S.C. 7402(f). View "Cerwonka v. Department of Veterans Affairs." on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals denying Appellant’s complaint seeking a writ of procedendo ordering the Industrial Commission to proceed with its adjudication of her application for permanent-total-disability benefits after a staff hearing officer (SHO) suspended her application, holding that Appellant failed to show she was entitled to the writ. The SHO here determined that the application could not be adjudicated until Appellant submitted to a second medical examination by a commission specialist. Appellant, however, argued that she could not be required to submit to a second examination because she had already been examined once by a commission specialist. Appellant then sought her writ of procedendo, and the court of appeals denied the writ. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the court of appeals properly denied the writ because Appellant did not show a clear legal duty or a clear legal right. View "State ex rel. Mignella v. Industrial Commission" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the report and order of the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) denying the Town of Portsmouth’s request for a discounted rate for ferry service from the Town of Bristol to Prudence Island for municipal vehicles and passengers performing essential government services, holding that the PUC did not err in denying the Town’s request for a discounted rate. On appeal, the Town argued that the PUC’s express statutory authority and implied powers grant it the right to order the Town’s requested rates without needing the permission of the entity it regulates, i.e., A&R Marine Corp., d/b/a Prudence & Bay Islands Transport. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding (1) before the PUC would have been legally authorized to act upon a discounted ferry rate for the Town, it would have been necessary, pursuant to R.I. Gen. Laws 39-2-5(2), for A&R Marine to propose such a discounted rate; and (2) because A&R never made such a proposal, the PUC’s report and order is affirmed. View "In re A&R Marine Corp." on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) to uphold the suspension of Appellant’s driver’s license, holding that collateral estoppel did not bar the OAH from considering Appellants’ blood alcohol content (BAC) test results in the license suspension proceeding. In the companion criminal case, the municipal court dismissed Appellant’s criminal charges without prejudice without referring to the prosecution’s argument that a gap in the chain of custody of Appellant’s blood samples rendered the BAC test results inadmissible. On appeal from the OAH proceedings, Appellant argued that the OAH was collaterally estopped from considering the BAC test results in the license suspension proceeding. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that all four collateral estoppel requirements were not met under the circumstances. View "Casiano v. State ex rel. Wyoming Department of Transportation" on Justia Law

by
Plaintiff Anupama Bekkem filed suit against her employer, the Department of Veterans Affairs, based on numerous instances of discrimination and retaliation she allegedly experienced while working as a primary care physician for the VA in the Oklahoma City area. The district court dismissed some of her claims under Rule 12(b)(6) and granted summary judgment in favor of Defendant on the remaining claims. Plaintiff appealed. Finding no reversible error in the trial court's grant of summary judgment on Plaintiff’s claims of discrimination based on unequal pay and retaliation based on her non-selection for the position as North May clinic medical director, and dismissal of her claim of discrimination based on a reprimand she received, the Tenth Circuit affirmed. However, the Court reversed summary judgment as to Plaintiff's claim of retaliation relating to the reprimand, and remanded that claim for further proceedings at the district court. View "Bekkem v. Wilkie" on Justia Law

by
Patterson, an African-American male and a longtime Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) employee, arrived at an Eddystone, Pennsylvania PLCB-run store to inquire about the store’s operating condition. Patterson identified himself to the assistant manager as a PLCB maintenance worker and asked whether the store’s electricity and plumbing were in working order or if the store might otherwise need repairs. The assistant manager became “very rude.” Patterson exited the store, entered his state-owned van, reported the assistant manager to his foreman over the phone, then drove toward another PLCB store in Newtown Square. En route, Patterson was stopped by the police and questioned about “robbing” the Eddystone store. An officer informed Patterson that the Eddystone assistant manager had called to report a “black guy” in a “state van” who was trying to “rob her store.” Patterson sued the PLCB, alleging race discrimination and violations of the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause, 42 U.S.C. 1983. The district court dismissed, finding that the PLCB was entitled to Eleventh Amendment sovereign immunity. The Third Circuit affirmed, employing a three-factor test to determine PLCB’s sovereign immunity status: whether the payment of the judgment would come from the state; what status the entity has under state law; and what degree of autonomy the entity has. View "Patterson v. Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board" on Justia Law