Justia Government & Administrative Law Opinion Summaries

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The Court of Appeal issued a peremptory writ of mandate directing the trial court to set aside its order enjoining the County from enforcing its orders to the extent they prohibit outdoor dining due to the COVID-19 pandemic until after conducting an appropriate risk-benefit analysis. During the pendency of the petition, the County lifted its prohibition based on infection rates declining and ICU availability increasing. However, the court concluded that these cases are not moot because conditions may change and the County may re-impose its outdoor restaurant dining ban.The court held that courts should be extremely deferential to public health authorities, particularly during a pandemic, and particularly where, as here, the public health authorities have demonstrated a rational basis for their actions. In this case, the County's order banning outdoor dining is not a plain, palpable invasion of rights secured by the fundamental law and is rationally related to limiting the spread of COVID-19.Even assuming that Mark's, a restaurant, has a First Amendment right to freedom of assembly, or that Mark's has standing to bring a First Amendment challenge on behalf of its patrons or employees, the court held that the order does not violate Mark's purported First Amendment right to freedom of assembly or that of its patrons. The court explained that the County's order does not regulate assembly based on the expressive conduct of the assembly; it is undisputed that limiting the spread of COVID-19 is a legitimate and substantial government interest; and the order leaves open alternative channels for assembling. Accordingly, the court entered a new order denying the Restauranteurs' request for a preliminary injunction. View "County of Los Angeles Department of Health v. Superior Court of Los Angeles County" on Justia Law

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Petitioners sought review of the Commission's final rule prohibiting the manufacture and sale of any children's toy or child care article that contains concentrations of more than 0.1 percent of any one of five phthalates.The Fifth Circuit held that EMCC has standing to bring its challenge to the Final Rule and the court has jurisdiction to review the Final Rule. The court also held that the Commission procedurally erred by not providing an adequate opportunity to comment on the rule and by failing to consider the costs of a portion of the rule. Having reviewed the record and the Final Rule, the court can discern the Commission's path for each of the six decisions at issue and held that its explanations are not "so implausible that it could not be ascribed to a difference in view or the product of agency expertise." Because there is a serious possibility that CSPC will be able to remedy its failures, the court concluded that remand, rather than vacatur, was appropriate in this case. View "Texas Association of Manufacturers v. United States Consumer Product Safety Commission" on Justia Law

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In this case involving litigation over milk price regulation in Puerto Rico the First Circuit vacated the judgment of the district court granting ORIL's motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim and remanded to the district court with instructions to return the case to the Puerto Rico Court of First Instance, holding that the district court lacked federal subject matter jurisdiction over this dispute.Industria Lechera de Puerto Rico, Inc. (Indulac) filed a challenge to the 2017 price order issued by the Milk Industry Regulation Administration for the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico in the Puerto Rico Court of First Instance, arguing that ORIL had failed to comply with certain procedural administrative requirements before issuing the order. ORIL filed a notice of removal, asserting federal jurisdiction based on 28 U.S.C. 1331 and 1441(a) and (c). The district court found that it had jurisdiction and then granted ORIL's motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment, holding that federal courts lacked jurisdiction over this matter. View "Industria Lechera de Puerto Rico, Inc. v. Flores" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals reversed the judgment of the court of special appeals concluding that it had jurisdiction to consider this appeal, holding that, under the circumstances, there was no right to appeal arising under statute or local law.ProVen Management, Inc. filed a petition for judicial review of the Baltimore City Department of Public Works Director's final decision in favor of the City as to ProVen Management, Inc.'s action seeking additional sums under the parties' contract. The circuit court affirmed, and ProVen appealed. The City filed a motion to dismiss, alleging that the court of special appeals lacked jurisdiction under Md. Cts. & Jud. Proc. art. 12-302(a). The court of special appeals denied the motion to dismiss. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding (1) ProVen's petition for judicial review was, in both form and substance, a petition for judicial review of an administrative agency decision arising under pertinent provisions of the Baltimore City Charter; and (2) because the Charter provided no right to appeal, the court of special appeals was required to dismiss the matter. View "Mayor & City Council of Baltimore v. ProVen Management, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff David Demarest filed suit against the Town of Underhill, seeking a declaration that he had a right of vehicle access over a Town trail, and appealing the Selectboard’s decision denying his request for highway access to a proposed new subdivision on his property. The superior court granted summary judgment in favor of the Town, concluding that plaintiff’s request for declaratory relief was barred by claim preclusion and that the Town acted within its discretion in denying the permit. On appeal, plaintiff argued the trial court erred in applying claim preclusion, and that the Town exceeded its authority under the statute in denying his request for access. Finding no reversible error, the Vermont Supreme Court affirmed judgment. View "Demarest v. Town of Underhill" on Justia Law

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Daughter Deborah George appealed the civil division’s determination that her father, decedent Theodore George, was the sole owner of a vehicle at the time of his death and that the vehicle was properly included in his estate. Decedent purchased the vehicle at issue, a 1979 Cadillac Eldorado, in 1992. The Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) issued a Certificate of Title to decedent in 1994 in his name only. The copy of the title in the record contained no assignment of ownership to daughter. In 2006, decedent submitted a Vermont Registration, Tax, and Title Application to the DMV. Decedent’s name was listed in the space provided for the owner, and daughter’s name was listed in the adjacent space provided for a co-owner. Next to daughter’s name, a handwritten annotation said, “add co-owner.” The form directed applicants to select rights of survivorship if more than one owner was listed and provides that “if no box is checked joint tenants will be selected.” Decedent made no indication. At the bottom of the form, decedent signed the application; the line for the co-owner’s signature was left blank. No bill of sale accompanied the 2006 Registration Application. The DMV issued registration certificates naming both decedent and daughter for 2012-2013, 2014-2015, and 2017-2018. On appeal of the civil division's determination, daughter argued that decedent’s act in changing the registration to reflect joint ownership effectively transferred an interest in the vehicle to her. Alternatively, she argued that decedent’s act demonstrated his intent to make a gift of joint ownership. The Vermont Supreme Court concluded there was insufficient evidence that decedent transferred an interest in the vehicle to daughter under either theory and affirmed. View "In re Estate of Theodore George" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the decision of the court of appeals affirming the decision of the district court concluding that the county board of adjustment legally granted an area variance to certain property owners, holding that the board of adjustment acted illegally in granting the variance from the county zoning ordinance.The Board of Adjustment of Cerro Gordo County granted the application for a variance filed by Gregory and Lea Ann Saul that allowed them to construct a pergola twenty-one inches from the property line. The local ordinance required a six-foot setback. The district court concluded that the board acted legally in granting the variance. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the court of appeals and reversed the district court, holding that the Sauls did not meet their burden to establish unnecessary hardship. View "Earley v. Board of Adjustment of Cerro Gordo County" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit vacated the order of the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) affirming the order of the immigration judge (IJ) denying Petitioner's application for withholding of removal, holding that the IJ and BIA made legal errors.Petitioner, a native and citizen of Honduras, twice entered the United States without authorization. After the government ordered Petitioner removed to Honduras, Petitioner filed an application for withholding of removal. The IJ denied the motion. The BIA affirmed and denied Petitioner's motion to reopen and remand. The First Circuit vacated the removal order and remanded the case to the BIA for further proceedings, holding (1) the BIA erred in dismissing Petitioner's appeal based on her failure to corroborate; and (2) the BIA erred in finding that Petitioner did not adequately apply for relief under the Convention Against Torture. View "Molina-Diaz v. Rosen" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the district court's dismissal of this complaint brought by the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA) alleging that the San Juan County Commission violated SUWA's rights under Utah's Open and Public Meetings Act, Utah Code 52-4-101 to 52-4-305, holding that SUWA's complaint was sufficient to survive dismissal.The district court dismissed the complaint on the grounds that SUWA failed to allege that the participants in the disputed meetings had discussed a matter over which the Commission had jurisdiction or advisory power. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) SUWA had standing to bring a challenge under the Act; and (2) the district court erred in dismissing SUWA's claims because the pleadings in SUWA's complaint were sufficient even if this Court were to adopt a proposed interpretation of the Act proffered by the Commission. View "Southern Utah Wilderness v. San Juan County Commission" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the district court dismissing this complaint brought by the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA) alleging that the Kane and Garfield County Commissions violated Utah's Open and Public Meetings Act (the Act), Utah Code 52-4-101 to 52-4-305, holding that the district court erred.The dispute leading to this litigation was whether the Commissions violated the Act when they failed to provide public notice or allow attendance at certain Commission members had with the United States Secretary of the Interior. The district court dismissed SUWA's complaint for lack of standing and concluded that the Act did not apply to the meetings at issue. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) SUWA had standing to bring these claims; and (2) the court erred in concluding that the Act did not apply because, even under the district court's interpretation of the Act, the allegations in SUWA's complaint were sufficient to survive a motion to dismiss. View "Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance v. Kane County Commission" on Justia Law