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In 2007, Chavez, then 21, was diagnosed with a brain tumor and underwent five surgeries. Chavez experienced depression and anxiety. She struggled to maintain concentration to complete simple household tasks and suffered from migraine headaches, back pain (caused by degenerative disc disease), and numbness in her feet and hands. Chavez had no prior work experience. In 2010 Chavez applied for Social Security supplemental security income. Chavez could perform only simple, routine tasks with significant restrictions on how much she could lift. The vocational expert enlisted by the agency to estimate the number of jobs suitable for Chavez testified that for one particular job there were either 800 or 108,000 existing positions but preferred the larger estimate. The administrative law judge agreed and denied Chavez’s claim. The district court affirmed. The Seventh Circuit vacated. The decision was not supported by substantial evidence; the ALJ failed to ensure that the vocational expert’s job estimates were reliable. The vocational expert offered no explanation for why his estimates (or his method) were reliable, instead reaching a conclusion by determining that the estimates yielded by an alternative method seemed too low. By affording such broad deference to the vocational expert’s chosen estimates, the ALJ relieved the agency of its evidentiary burden at the final step of the analysis, impermissibly shifting the burden to Chavez. View "Chavez v. Berryhill" on Justia Law

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The tax court correctly dismissed the appeals brought by several cooperatives (the Cooperatives) challenging the valuation orders of the Commissioner of Revenue for the 2014, 2015, and 2016 tax years because the appeals were not filed within the sixty-day deadline for appeals from orders of the Commissioner. On appeal, the Cooperatives argued that the two appeal paths provided by Minn. Stat. 273.372(2) effectively establish the single deadline of April 30 of the year in which the tax becomes payable. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding (1) the Cooperatives’ view that a single filing deadline governs all appeals under section 273.372 fails because the plain language of that statute establishes two different filing deadlines, depending on the appeal path chosen; and (2) the Cooperatives’ notices of appeal were governed only by a sixty-day deadline, and therefore, the tax court properly dismissed the appeals as untimely. View "Lake Country Power Cooperative v. Commissioner of Revenue" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Workers’ Compensation Court of Appeals (WCCA) that the compensation judge failed fully to consider the extent to which each of Respondent’s employers sought to shift liability to the other employer and that it was error to deny Respondent’s motion for fees under Minn. Stat. 176.191(1). In 2015, Respondent filed a workers’ compensation claim for work-related aggravations to a low-back condition resulting from a work-related injury in 2009. Between the 2009 injury and later aggravations sustained in 2014 and 2015, Respondent’s employer and its insurer changed. When Respondent sought benefits for later aggravations sustained in 2014 and 2015, her 2009-employer and her new employer disputed whether the aggravations were a continuation of the 2009 injury or subsequent injuries for which the new employer and its insurer were liable. The compensation judge held the new employer liable for reasonable benefits for the later injuries but denied Respondent’s claim for fees under section 176.191(1). The WCCA reversed the denial of the motion for fees. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the efforts by each employer to shift responsibility to the other employer greatly increased the burden on Respondent’s counsel to provide effective representation, and therefore, Respondent was entitled to receive reasonable attorney fees under the statute. View "Hufnagel v. Deer River Health Care Center" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that the forfeiture-of-office provision of the Minnesota Open Meeting Law, under which pubic officials who violate the Open Meeting Law may be removed from office, requires three separate, serial adjudications, other than three concurrently filed actions alleging separate, intentional Open Meeting Law violations. Under Minn. Stat. 13D.06(3), the forfeiture-of-office provision of the Open Meeting Law, Minn. Stat. 13D.01-.07, if public officials are found to have intentionally violated the statute “in three or more actions” they may be removed from office. Residents of the City of Victoria successfully proved that certain officials, collectively, committed thirty-eight Open Meeting Law provisions. These violations were found after a single trial resulting from consolidation of five separate lawsuits filed by the residents. The district court declined to remove the officials from office, concluding that three separate adjudications were required. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the forfeiture-of-office provision is not triggered unless three separate, sequential adjudications result in findings of three separate, unrelated Open Meeting Law violations. View "Funk v. O’Connor" on Justia Law

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The DEA bars hospitals from hiring, as an employee with “access to controlled substances,” any doctor who “for cause” has surrendered his registration to handle those substances. The DEA enforced this regulation against Doctors McDonald and Woods, who had voluntarily surrendered their registrations while in addiction treatment. They later regained full registrations. The doctors sued to enjoin the DEA from enforcing the regulation against them in the future, arguing that it no longer applied to them once their registrations were restored. The parties settled. Their agreement provides that “[t]he DEA no longer interprets 21 C.F.R. 1301.76(a) as requiring . . . potential employers of doctors with unrestricted DEA registrations to seek waivers.” The Sixth Circuit denied the government’s motion to keep the agreement under seal, noting “a strong presumption in favor of openness as to court records.” The government did not identify information too sensitive to remain public. Public interest is particularly strong where the information pertains to an agency’s interpretation of a regulation. Other doctors would no doubt be interested. View "Woods v. United States Drug Enforcement Administration" on Justia Law

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Three disabled individuals who formerly received cash general assistance benefits from the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare filed a complaint alleging that the manner in which the Pennsylvania General Assembly enacted Act 80 of 2012, a piece of legislation which, inter alia, made sweeping changes to the administration of the state's human services programs, violated Article III, Sections 1, 3 and 4 of the Pennsylvania Constitution. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court determined the Act was in violation of Section 4. The provisions of H.B 1261, P.N. 1385 were entirely removed from the bill by the Senate, inasmuch as they had been enacted by another piece of legislation, Act 22 of 2011. Since the original provisions were gone when the new provisions were added by the Senate, it was factually and legally impossible for the new provisions to work together with the deleted provisions to accomplish a single purpose. The Court held the amendments "to such enfeebled legislation" were not germane as a matter of law. Consequently, the Senate amendments were not germane to the provisions of H.B. 1261, P.N. 1385, and, accordingly, the three times that H.B. 1261, P.N. 1385 was passed by the House in 2011 could not count towards the requirements of Article III, Section 4. View "Washington, et al. v. Dept. of Pub. Welfare" on Justia Law

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The Pennsylvania Supreme Court allowed this appeal to address the City of Philadelphia's so-called "soda tax." In June 2016, City Council enacted the challenged ordinance, which imposed a tax regarding specified categories of drinks sold, or intended to be sold, in the municipal limits. Appellants -- a group of consumers, retailers, distributors, producers, and trade associations -- filed suit against the City and the Commissioner of the Philadelphia Department of Revenue, in the court of common pleas, challenging the legality and constitutionality of the tax and seeking declaratory and injunctive relief. The common pleas court differentiated the soda tax as a “non-retail, distribution level tax” and that the tax did not apply to the same transaction or subject as the state sales tax, thus, no violation of the "Sterling Act," Act of August 5, 1932, Ex. Sess., P.L. 45 (as amended 53 P.S. sections 15971–15973). A divided, en banc panel of the Commonwealth Court affirmed, the majority reasoning that in determining whether a tax was duplicative, the focus is upon the incidence of the tax; such incidence is ultimately determined according to the substantive text of the enabling legislation; and the concept of legal incidence does not concern post-tax economic actions of private actors. Because the City’s beverage tax and the state sales and use tax are imposed on different, albeit related, transactions and measured on distinct terms, the majority likewise concluded that the Sterling Act was not offended. The Supreme Court affirmed, finding that the Sterling Act conferred upon the City "a broad taxing power subject to preemption," while clarifying that “any and all subjects” are available for local taxation which the Commonwealth could, but does not presently, tax. The Commonwealth could, but did not, tax the distributor/dealer-level transactions or subjects targeted by the soda tax. "Moreover, the legal incidences of the Philadelphia tax and the Commonwealth’s sales and use tax are different and, accordingly, Sterling Act preemption does not apply." View "Williams v. City of Philadelphia" on Justia Law

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At issue was whether consent is required from would-be affected counties before the Missouri Public Service Commission can issue a line certificate of convenience and necessity (CCN) pursuant to the statute governing line CCNs, Mo. Rev. Stat. 393.170.1. Grain Belt Express Clean Line, LLC filed an application for a line CCN with the Commission seeking the Commission’s approval of Grain Belt’s proposed construction of an interstate electrical transmission line and associated facilities. The Commission denied the application for a line CCN, concluding that it was bound by In re Ameren Transmission Co. of Illinois (ATXI), 523 S.W.3d 21 (Mo. App. 2017), which purported to require prior consent from each county affected by the proposed construction. The Supreme Court reversed the Commission’s order, holding (1) the Commission’s reliance on ATXI was error because section 393.170.1 does not require prior consent from affected counties; and (2) to the extent that ATXI suggests consent from every would-be affected county is required before the Commission can grant a line CCN, it should not be followed. View "Grain Belt Express Clean Line, LLC v. Public Service Commission" on Justia Law

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Gary Clark was having a psychotic episode. His brother was having trouble subduing Clark, and called the Broken Arrow Policy to assist. When Clark charged at one of the officers with a knife, he was shot. Clark ultimately survived his gunshot wounds, but had not fully recovered. Clark sued, claiming a violation of a number of his constitutional, state-common-law, and federal-statutory rights. The district court granted summary judgment to Wagoner County Board of Commissioners, Wagoner County Sheriff Robert Colbert, and former Wagoner County Jail Nurse Vicki Holland on Clark’s claims against them. Given the undisputed facts, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals concluded a reasonable jury could not find the officers violated Clark’s Fourth Amendment right to be free from excessive force. In addition, Clark failed to adequately brief issues necessary to justify reversal on his Oklahoma-tort and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) claims. Therefore, the Court affirmed summary judgment in favor of the governmental officials. View "Clark v. Colbert" on Justia Law

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This case involved the "340B Program," which allowed certain hospitals to purchase outpatient drugs from manufacturers at or below specified prices. Plaintiffs filed suit challenging a regulation that sets the Outpatient Prospective Payment System (OPPS) reimbursement drugs purchased through the 340B Progam for 2018. The district court held that plaintiffs failed to present claims for reimbursement to the Secretary, as required to obtain judicial review of claims under Medicare, and thus dismissed the complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The DC Circuit held that plaintiffs neither presented their claim nor obtained any administrative decision at all, much less the "final decision" required under 42 U.S.C. 405(g). In this case, when plaintiffs filed this action, neither the hospital plaintiffs, nor any members of the hospital-association plaintiffs, had challenged the new reimbursement regulation in the context of a specific administrative claim for payment. They could not have done so because the new regulation had not yet even become effective. Therefore, plaintiffs failed to satisfy the presentment requirement of section 405(g), and the district court properly dismissed this case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. View "American Hospital Ass'n v. Azar" on Justia Law