Justia Government & Administrative Law Opinion Summaries

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The case involves Thryv, Inc., a company that had a dispute with the union representing some of its sales employees. The union complained to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), alleging that Thryv engaged in several unfair labor practices. The NLRB agreed with the union and ordered Thryv to take significant steps to remedy the alleged violations. Thryv petitioned the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit for review.Previously, an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) ruled in favor of the NLRB's General Counsel in part and Thryv in part. The ALJ agreed with the General Counsel that Thryv failed to respond to the Union’s information requests, constituting six unfair labor practices. However, the ALJ disagreed with the General Counsel that Thryv’s layoffs violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), finding that Thryv had bargained in good faith.The NLRB affirmed the ALJ’s finding that Thryv violated the NLRA by failing to comply with the Union’s information requests. However, it disagreed with the ALJ about the layoffs and held them unlawful. The NLRB held that Thryv had an obligation to bargain with respect to the layoffs and that Thryv breached that obligation by presenting the layoffs as a fait accompli and withholding information from the Union that the Union needed to bargain effectively.The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit granted Thryv’s petition and vacated the NLRB’s order in part. The court disagreed with the NLRB's conclusion that Thryv's layoffs violated the NLRA. The court held that Thryv was permitted to implement its last best, final offer (LBFO) upon reaching an impasse with the Union. The court found that Thryv complied with the terms of the LBFO, which included providing the Union with thirty days’ notice before initiating layoffs, providing the Union an opportunity to discuss the layoffs, and offering severance payments to the affected employees. Therefore, the court concluded that Thryv's layoffs were lawful so long as Thryv and the Union remained at overall impasse on the date the layoffs occurred. The court also enforced the NLRB’s order requiring Thryv to cease and desist from failing and refusing to furnish the Union with requested information that is relevant and necessary to the Union’s performance of its functions as the collective-bargaining representative of its employees. View "Thryv v. National Labor Relations Board" on Justia Law

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The case involves a petition for a writ of prohibition filed by Dr. Jose Ravelo, a board-certified oral surgeon, against the West Virginia Board of Dentistry. The petitioner sought to halt the Board's ongoing investigation and any further disciplinary action against him based on his treatment of a patient in 2021. He argued that the Board violated the statutory time limitation for resolution of disciplinary actions and violated his due process rights.The Board initiated an investigation after Dr. Ravelo self-reported a complication following a surgical procedure he performed on a patient. The Board's Complaint Committee recommended filing a complaint against Dr. Ravelo, citing concerns about his standard of care. Dr. Ravelo responded to the complaint, and the Board continued its investigation.The Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia found that the Board complied with West Virginia Code § 30-1-5(c), which permits an extension of time for the Board to issue a final ruling. The Court held that an agreement to extend the period of time for an applicable regulatory board to issue a final ruling on a complaint is not barred by the fact that the applicable board is also the complainant. The Court also found that the Board had not violated the petitioner's constitutional right to due process. Therefore, the Court denied the petitioner's request for a writ of prohibition. View "State ex rel. Ravelo v. West Virginia Board of Dentistry" on Justia Law

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Seth Lookhart, a dentist, was convicted of numerous crimes related to a fraudulent scheme that endangered his patients' health and safety. The scheme involved unnecessary sedation of patients to fraudulently bill Alaska’s Medicaid program, overcharging it by more than $1.6 million. Lookhart also stole $412,500 from a business partner. His reckless sedation practices nearly resulted in the loss of two patients' lives. He was arrested in April 2017 and convicted on 46 charges in January 2020, leading to a sentence of 20 years in prison with eight years suspended.Following Lookhart's convictions, the Division of Corporations, Business and Professional Licensing sought to revoke his dental license. Lookhart agreed to the facts of the accusation but argued that revocation was not an appropriate sanction. The administrative law judge (ALJ) disagreed, stating that Lookhart's misconduct was more severe than any prior case and that revocation was the clear and obvious sanction. The Board of Dental Examiners adopted the ALJ's decision.Lookhart appealed to the superior court, arguing that the Board's decision was inconsistent with its prior decisions. The court disagreed, stating that the Board had wide discretion to determine appropriate sanctions and that no prior case was comparable to Lookhart's. The court affirmed the Board's decision. Lookhart then appealed to the Supreme Court of the State of Alaska.The Supreme Court affirmed the lower court's decision. It held that the Board of Dental Examiners did not abuse its discretion by revoking Lookhart's license. The court found that none of the Board's prior licensing cases involved misconduct of the scope and severity in this case, so there was no applicable precedent to limit the Board's exercise of its discretion. View "Lookhart v. State of Alaska, Board of Dental Examiners" on Justia Law

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The case involves Bainbridge Fund Ltd. (Bainbridge), which sought to attach property owned by the Republic of Argentina (Argentina) in partial satisfaction of a judgment entered against Argentina in 2020. The property in question, the Chancery Annex, was a building owned by Argentina in Washington, D.C. The Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) stipulates that the property of a foreign sovereign cannot be attached unless the sovereign waives immunity and the property is used for commercial activity in the United States. The district court denied Bainbridge’s application after finding that the property in question is not used for commercial activity.Previously, in the Southern District of New York, Bainbridge obtained a judgment against Argentina for $95,424,899.38, arising out of Argentina’s default on a bond owned by Bainbridge. The bond contained a waiver of sovereign immunity by Argentina. Bainbridge sought to attach and execute upon the Chancery Annex to satisfy the judgment in part.The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit affirmed the district court’s denial of Bainbridge’s application. The court found that the Chancery Annex was not “used for commercial activity” at the time of filing. The court also rejected Bainbridge's argument that Argentina had waived the “commercial activity” requirement under Section 1610(a) of the FSIA. The court held that the bond did not evince an explicit promise or intent by Argentina not to raise FSIA defenses. View "Bainbridge Fund Ltd. v. Republic of Argentina" on Justia Law

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The case involves East Ohio Gas Company, doing business as Dominion Energy Ohio ("Dominion"), and J. William Vigrass, individually and as executor of Virginia Vigrass’s estate. Dominion had requested access to Virginia's residence to inspect the gas meter located inside. However, due to Virginia's immunocompromised state and susceptibility to COVID-19, she denied Dominion access. Despite her account being paid in full, Dominion disconnected its natural-gas service to Virginia’s residence in January 2022. The disconnection resulted in freezing temperatures inside the residence, causing the water pipes to burst and damage the property. Virginia was later found dead in her residence.In the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas, Vigrass sued Dominion on claims relating to the shutoff of its natural-gas service to Virginia’s residence. Dominion moved to dismiss the complaint for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction, arguing that the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio had exclusive jurisdiction over the claims as they related to a service issue. However, Judge Peter J. Corrigan denied Dominion’s motion, reasoning that he had jurisdiction over the complaint because Vigrass had asserted common-law claims.Dominion then filed an original action in prohibition in the Supreme Court of Ohio, asserting that Judge Corrigan patently and unambiguously lacks jurisdiction over Vigrass’s action. Dominion sought an order to prevent Judge Corrigan from exercising jurisdiction and to vacate the orders he has issued in the underlying case.The Supreme Court of Ohio granted the writ of prohibition, ordering Judge Corrigan to cease exercising jurisdiction over the underlying case and directing him to vacate the orders that he had previously issued in the case. The court concluded that both parts of the test set forth in Allstate Ins. Co. v. Cleveland Elec. Illum. Co. were met, indicating that the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio had exclusive jurisdiction over the case. The court also granted in part and denied in part Dominion's motion to strike certain parts of Vigrass's brief. View "State ex rel. E. Ohio Gas Co. v. Corrigan" on Justia Law

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The case revolves around the suicide of Donnie Clay while he was detained in the Tunica County Jail. Barbara Clay, Donnie's wife, and Whitney Jackson, Donnie's girlfriend, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Sheriff K.C. Hamp and Tunica County. The plaintiffs alleged that the defendants violated Donnie's Fourteenth Amendment rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 by failing to prevent his suicide. The plaintiffs claimed that the defendants were aware or should have been aware of Donnie's vulnerability to suicide due to his history of multiple suicide attempts while detained in the jail, and that they failed to take action to prevent this risk.The defendants filed a combined motion for summary judgment, arguing that Sheriff Hamp was entitled to qualified immunity and that the County could not be held liable under § 1983 as the plaintiffs failed to establish that a policy or custom of the jail was the direct cause of Donnie's suicide. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants, finding that Sheriff Hamp was entitled to qualified immunity and that the plaintiffs failed to identify a single policy or custom of the County that directly caused Donnie's suicide. The plaintiffs appealed the trial court's decision to grant summary judgment in favor of the County.The Supreme Court of Mississippi affirmed the trial court's decision. The court found that the plaintiffs failed to present evidence to establish that the training provided to the jail employees demonstrated deliberate indifference by the County to the potential for constitutional injuries. The court also found that a single episode of an employee's failure to follow jail policy does not establish a pattern of constitutional violations amounting to the policy of the County. Therefore, the court concluded that the trial judge did not err by granting the County's motion for summary judgment. View "Clay v. Tunica County, Mississippi" on Justia Law

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The case revolves around a plaintiff, Carol Allen, who slipped and fell on the steps of Newport City Hall while exiting the building after paying her property taxes. At the time of the incident, there was light to moderate snowfall, and the steps were covered with a slushy film. Allen suffered a severe head injury as a result of the fall, which led to multiple seizures and the loss of her ability to taste and smell. She filed a negligence lawsuit against the city and its employees, alleging they failed to properly treat the stairs for adverse weather conditions.The Superior Court ruled in favor of Allen, finding that the city and its employees had a duty to clear the steps of snow and ice, even during an ongoing storm, due to the unusual circumstances of the case. The court found that the city's failure to apply ice melt and take other protective measures exacerbated the risks inherent in using the stairs during a storm. The court also found that Allen was 35 percent comparatively negligent for her fall.The city and its employees appealed the decision to the Supreme Court of Rhode Island. The Supreme Court vacated the judgments of the Superior Court, ruling that the city and its employees did not have a duty to clear the steps until a reasonable time after the storm had ended. The court found that the city's failure to take precautionary measures did not exacerbate the risks already inherent in traveling during a storm. Therefore, the court concluded that there were no unusual circumstances that triggered the city's duty prior to the end of the storm. The case was remanded for entry of judgment in favor of the city and its employees. View "Allen v. Sitrin" on Justia Law

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The case involves MCR Oil Tools, L.L.C., who filed a petition for review against the United States Department of Transportation, its Secretary Pete Buttigieg, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, and William S. Schoonover in his official capacity as Associate Administrator of Hazardous Materials Safety. The petition was filed in response to an order from the Department of Transportation.The case was brought before the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Prior to this, the case had been reviewed by the Department of Transportation, but the details of the lower court's proceedings and decisions are not provided in the document.The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit granted the petition for review. The court decided to expedite the matter to the next available randomly designated regular oral argument panel. Additionally, the court ruled that the motions for stay pending review and for administrative stay should be decided by the argument panel. The court carried these motions with the case, consistent with their panel practice. However, the court did not express any opinion on the disposition of these motions. View "MCR Oil Tools v. United States Department of Transportation" on Justia Law

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In 2006, Doris Sloan filed for survivor’s benefits under the Black Lung Benefits Act following the death of her husband, Gurstle Sloan, who had worked as a coal miner for Drummond Company for 16 years. Sloan's claim was denied by an administrative law judge, and this denial was reviewed twice. Sloan argued that the administrative law judge improperly excluded evidence supporting her request to modify her claim and erred by finding that the evidence did not establish that her husband’s death was due to pneumoconiosis.The Benefits Review Board affirmed the administrative law judge’s denial of survivor’s benefits. Sloan timely moved for reconsideration by the en banc Board, arguing that the administrative law judge erred by excluding and failing to consider certain evidence and by improperly relying on the opinion of the government’s expert witness. The Board denied Sloan’s motion for reconsideration en banc. Sloan filed a second motion for reconsideration, which was also denied by the Board.In the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, the court was required to decide whether it had jurisdiction over a petition for review of a denial of survivor’s benefits under the Black Lung Benefits Act filed in this Court one day late. The court found that the filing deadline is jurisdictional and it had no jurisdiction to review the denial of a motion for reconsideration by the Benefits Review Board. Therefore, the court lacked jurisdiction to review the petition and dismissed the petition for lack of jurisdiction. View "Sloan v. Drummond Company, Inc." on Justia Law

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The case revolves around the tragic death of Tyler Gergler, a recruit in the Marine Corps' Delayed Entry Program. Gergler died in a car accident while driving to a Marine Corps event, despite being ill. His parents, Raynu Clark and Jason R. Gergler, alleged that Sergeant Mitchell Castner, Gergler's recruiter, negligently pressured their son to drive to the event despite his illness, which led to the fatal accident. They argued that since Castner's actions were within the scope of his Marine Corps employment, the Government was liable for their son's death.The case was initially heard in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey. The Government moved to dismiss the case, arguing that the United States has sovereign immunity for discretionary acts of government agents. They contended that when Castner pressured Gergler to drive, he was acting as Gergler's recruiter, a discretionary function, and thus, sovereign immunity barred the lawsuit. The District Court agreed with the Government's argument and dismissed the case on the grounds that Castner had discretion and was exercising that discretion.The case was then appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. The court affirmed the District Court's decision, ruling that the United States and its agents enjoy sovereign immunity from suit. The court found that Castner had discretion to urge Gergler to attend the event and that his function of preparing Marine recruits for training was discretionary. The court also rejected the parents' arguments that Castner's conduct was so egregious that it goes beyond policy consideration and that a narrow carve-out for easy precautions should apply. The court concluded that the United States is immune from suit when its agents commit alleged torts within the discretion accorded by their job function, and Sergeant Castner's actions were within his discretionary function of preparing Marine recruits for training. View "Clark v. Secretary United States Navy" on Justia Law