Justia Government & Administrative Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Class Action
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This putative class action against California and San Diego County officials challenged California Governor Gavin Newsom’s emergency orders and related public health directives restricting business operations during the COVID-19 pandemic. Plaintiffs, owners of affected restaurants and gyms (Owners), primarily contended the orders were procedurally invalid because they were adopted without complying with the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). Furthermore, Owners contended that the business restrictions were substantively invalid because they effected a taking without compensation, violating the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Rejecting these claims, the superior court sustained demurrers to the third amended complaint without leave to amend and dismissed the action. While the Court of Appeal sympathized with the position some Owners find themselves in and the significant financial losses they alleged, the unambiguous terms of the Emergency Services Act and controlling United States Supreme Court regulatory takings caselaw required that the judgment be affirmed. View "640 Tenth, LP v. Newsom" on Justia Law

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In November 2017, Saul Cisneros was charged with two misdemeanor offenses and jailed. The court set Cisneros’s bond at $2,000, and Cisneros’s daughter posted that bond four days later, but the County Sheriff’s Office did not release him. Instead, pursuant to Sheriff Bill Elder’s policies and practices, the Sheriff’s Office notified U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) that the jail had been asked to release Cisneros on bond. ICE then sent the jail a detainer and administrative warrant, requesting that the jail continue to detain Cisneros because ICE suspected that he was removable from the United States. Cisneros was placed on an indefinite “ICE hold,” and remained in detention. During his detention, Cisneros, along with another pretrial detainee, initiated a class action in state court against Sheriff Elder, in his official capacity, for declaratory, injunctive, and mandamus relief. The Colorado Supreme Court granted certiorari to consider whether the appellate court erred in concluding that section 24-10-106(1.5)(b), C.R.S. (2021), of the Colorado Governmental Immunity Act (“CGIA”) did not waive sovereign immunity for intentional torts that result from the operation of a jail for claimants who were incarcerated but not convicted. The Supreme Court concluded section 24-10-106(1.5)(b) waived immunity for such intentional torts. "In reaching this determination, we conclude that the statutory language waiving immunity for 'claimants who are incarcerated but not yet convicted' and who 'can show injury due to negligence' sets a floor, not a ceiling. To hold otherwise would mean that a pre-conviction claimant could recover for injuries resulting from the negligent operation of a jail but not for injuries resulting from the intentionally tortious operation of the same jail, an absurd result that we cannot countenance." Accordingly, the judgment of the division below was reversed and the case remanded for further proceedings. View "Cisneros v. Elder" on Justia Law

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Objectors challenged the district court's judgment approving a class action settlement that includes Freddie Mac, with FHFA as its conservator, as a member of the plaintiff settlement class and enjoins FHFA from further pursuing Freddie Mac claims that were at issue in the action. The Second Circuit rejected FHFA's contention that the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 (HERA) deprived the district court of subject matter jurisdiction to treat FHFA or Freddie Mac as a member of the settlement class or to rule that conservatorship assets were within the scope of the settlement.However, the court concluded for other reasons that the district court's March 8, 2019 prejudgment ruling that FHFA is a member of the settlement class was erroneous. The court explained that the Settlement Class, as certified by the district court, consists of persons and entities who purchased or otherwise acquired interests in the NovaStar bonds "prior to May 21, 2008." However, because FHFA did not succeed to the interests of Freddie Mac until September 6, 2008, it acquired no interest in Freddie Mac's NovaStar bonds until that date. Therefore, FHFA is not a member of the Settlement Class and the court modified the judgment to reflect the court's ruling. View "N.J. Carpenters Health Fund v. NovaStar Mortgage, Inc." on Justia Law

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Chris Williams was fined in Spokane Municipal Court for speeding in a school zone, an infraction captured by a traffic safety camera. Williams did not contest the infraction when it was issued, but before the Washington Supreme Court, he argued the camera was improperly positioned to photograph vehicles outside of the school zone. As a result, Williams contended that his infraction and the resulting municipal court judgment were invalid. Instead of moving to vacate the judgment in municipal court, Williams filed a putative class action complaint in superior court against the City of Spokane (City) and American Traffic Solutions Inc. (ATS), seeking a refund of his fine and declaratory and injunctive relief. The trial court denied the defendants’ motion for summary judgment. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that Williams’s complaint had to be dismissed. The Supreme Court found that in accordance with court rules, statutes, and case law, Williams had to seek a refund of his infraction fine from the municipal court that issued the judgment. Until he did, Williams did not have standing to seek declaratory or injunctive relief. Therefore, all of his claims were precluded. The Court affirmed the appellate court and remanded this case to the superior court for dismissal of Williams’s complaint. View "Williams v. City of Spokane" on Justia Law

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Appellants Raymond and Michelle Plata were property owners in the City of San Jose and customers of Muni Water. Muni Water’s annual budget was reflected each year in a document called a source and use of funds statement, which was part of the City’s annual operating budget. In 2013, the Platas filed with the City a claim pursuant to Government Code sections 910 and 910.2, accusing Muni Water of violating Proposition 218 ab initio by collecting money from customers and illegally transferring it to the City’s own general fund. The City rejected the claim, so in early 2014, the Platas brought a class action lawsuit seeking declaratory and injunctive relief against the City under Proposition 218, as well as recovery of the amounts overpaid. After a lengthy bench trial, the trial court issued a statement of decision finding: (1) the late fees charged by Muni Water were not a fee or charge covered by Proposition 218; (2) any claims accruing prior to November 4, 2012 were time-barred because of the statute of limitations provided under Government Code section 911.2, and there was no basis for applying any equitable tolling doctrine; (3) as for tiered water rates, the discussion of high rates in the Platas’ government claims adequate to gave notice to the City that its rate structure was being questioned; and (4) “[a] more significant complication” raised by the City in its class decertification motion. The tiered rate structure would impact different class members differently from month to month, thus making it potentially “impossible” to draw a “line between ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ based on monthly water consumption[.]” The court granted the City’s motion to decertify the class, and refused to grant the Platas any relief as to their tiered rate argument. The Platas appealed. The Court of Appeal reversed judgment only as to the trial court’s findings on the tiered rate structure. In all other respects, it was affirmed. View "Plata v. City of San Jose" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff-appellant Terri Baker appealed the dismissal of this putative class action for lack of standing. She sued on behalf of herself and her son, S.F.B., to challenge Kansas laws and school district policies that: (1) required children to be vaccinated to attend school and participate in child care programs; and (2) provided a religious exemption from these requirements. She claimed these immunization laws and policies violated various federal and state constitutional provisions and statutes. Baker argued she and S.F.B. had standing because the immunization requirements and religious exemptions injured them in two ways: (1) the District misapplied Kansas law when it granted a religious exemption for S.F.B. to attend preschool despite being unvaccinated - her fear that the District would revoke S.F.B.'s religious exemption was an injury in fact that established standing; and (2) Baker "would like the option" of placing S.F.B. in a non-accredited private school (i.e., home school), school programs, or licensed child care - she contended Kansas law inhibited her from exercising these options and caused an injury in fact because she would be unable to secure a religious exemption for S.F.B. if she tried. Finding no reversible error in the district court's dismissal, the Tenth Circuit affirmed. View "Baker v. USD 229 Blue Valley" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit challenging the quarantine decisions of certain Connecticut state officials in response to an Ebola epidemic in West Africa. On appeal, plaintiffs challenged the district court's denial of their motion for class certification and dismissing their suit for lack of standing and based on qualified immunity. Plaintiffs primarily argue that they suffered actual or imminent injuries that create standing to seek prospective relief to avert allegedly unconstitutional future quarantines; clearly established law required that any quarantine imposed be medically necessary and comport with certain procedural safeguards; and their class is sufficiently numerous to merit certification.The Second Circuit affirmed and held that the district court properly deemed plaintiffs' injuries too speculative to support standing. In this case, plaintiffs failed to plead a sufficient likelihood that, under the revised policy, any of them faces a substantial risk of suffering a future injury. The court also held that the law surrounding quarantines was not clearly established such that a state official may be held liable for the actions taken here. The court did not reach the class certification issue because it is mooted by the court's conclusion as to standing. Accordingly, the court remanded with instructions to amend the judgment to clarify that the state law claims were dismissed without prejudice. View "Liberian Community Ass'n v. Lamont" on Justia Law

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In this class action, the Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals affirming the common pleas court's decision to certify the class, holding that the common pleas court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the class action for the named and prospective class plaintiffs whose claims for recovery fell within the express language of Ohio Rev. Code 5160.37.The class action sought a declaratory judgment that former Ohio Rev. Code 5101.58 relating to Medicaid reimbursements is unconstitutional. The action further sought to recover all sums paid to the Ohio Department of Medicaid (Department) under section 5101.58. Plaintiff moved to certify as a class all persons who paid any amount to the Department pursuant to the statute from April 6, 2007 to the present. The trial court certified the class. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) section 5160.37 now provides the sole remedy for Medicaid program participants to recover excessive reimbursement payments made to the Department on or after September 29, 2007; and (2) therefore, the common pleas court lacked jurisdiction over the claims asserted by Plaintiffs. View "Pivonka v. Corcoran" on Justia Law

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At issue before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court was a challenge to a local judicial district’s policy prohibiting the use of medical marijuana by individuals under court supervision, such as probationers. Relevant here, the applicable statutory authority, the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Act, contained an immunity provision protecting patients from government sanctions. In September 2019, the 52nd Judicial District -- comprised of the Lebanon County Court of Common Pleas (the “District”) -- announced a “Medical Marijuana Policy” under the issuing authority of the president judge. The Policy prohibited “the active use of medical marijuana, regardless of whether the defendant has a medical marijuana card, while the defendant is under supervision by the Lebanon County Probation Services Department.” Petitioners were individuals under the supervision of the Lebanon County probation agency who filed suit in the Commonwealth Court's original jurisdiction to challenge the validity of the Policy in light of the MMA's immunity provision. Separately, Petitioners filed an application for special relief in the nature of a preliminary injunction. Soon thereafter, the Commonwealth Court proceeded, sua sponte, to transfer the case to this Court, concluding that it lacked jurisdiction to grant the requested relief. The District then filed its response in this Court opposing preliminary injunctive relief. It claimed, among other things, that Petitioners were unlikely to prevail on the merits, arguing, inter alia, that the General Assembly didn’t intend the MMA to override the courts’ ability to supervise probationers and parolees. After review, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court granted Petitioners' request for declaratory and injunctive relief. The Policy was deemed to be contrary to the immunity accorded by the MMA, and as such, should not be enforced. "[N]othing impedes a revocation hearing or other lawful form of redress, where there is reasonable cause to believe that a probationer or other person under court supervision has possessed or used marijuana in a manner that has not been made lawful by the enactment." View "Gass et al. v. 52nd Judicial District" on Justia Law

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Defendants Michael Touchette and Centurion Healthcare brought an interlocutory appeal of a trial court's certification of a class of plaintiffs in a Vermont Rule 75 action. The certified class was comprised of people in the custody of the Vermont Department of Corrections (DOC), each of whom suffered from opioid-use disorder, and alleged defendants’ medication-assisted treatment (MAT) program did not meet prevailing medical standards of care as required by Vermont law. Defendants, the former Commissioner of the DOC and its contract healthcare provider, argued the trial court erred both in finding that plaintiff Patrick Mullinnex exhausted his administrative remedies before filing suit, and in adopting the vicarious-exhaustion doctrine favored by several federal circuits in order to conclude that Mullinnex’s grievances satisfied the exhaustion requirement on behalf of the entire class. Defendants also contended the trial court’s decision to certify the class was made in error because plaintiffs did not meet Rule 23’s numerosity, commonality, typicality, and adequacy-of- representation requirements. After review, the Vermont Supreme Court reversed, concluding that - even if the vicarious-exhaustion doctrine was appropriately applied in Vermont - it could not apply in this case because, on the record before the trial court, no member of the putative class succeeded in exhausting his administrative remedies. Because plaintiffs’ failure to exhaust left the courts without subject-matter jurisdiction, the Supreme Court did not reach defendants’ challenges to the merits of the class-certification decision. View "Mullinnex et al . v. Menard et al." on Justia Law