Justia Government & Administrative Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Louisiana Supreme Court
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The Pineville City Court was fully funded by the City of Pineville. This funding included amounts for the salaries of three clerk positions and accompanying human resources services. In turn, the City Court reimbursed the City for forty-percent of those expenses. In November 2020, the Pineville City Court informed the City that it would no longer reimburse the forty- percent as it had done in the past. Thereafter, the City sent notice that it would reduce payments of the clerks’ salaries by forty-percent, cease providing payroll and human resources services, pay only sixty-percent of the clerks’ retirement contributions, and discontinue the clerks’ participation in the city’s Blue Cross health plan. In this mandamus action the issue presented for the Louisiana Supreme Court's review was whether the court of appeal erred in reversing the trial court’s judgment that granted the City's exception of no cause of action. The plain language of La. R.S. 13:1888 A mandated only a minimum salary amount that must be paid to the city court clerk and deputy clerks. "The governing authorities have discretion to pay more than the mandated minimum salary. A mandamus action is an incorrect vehicle for the demand asserted by Pineville City Court because the underlying duty is not purely ministerial in nature." Accordingly, the Supreme Court found that the trial court correctly granted the exception of no cause of action. View "Pineville City Court, et al. v. City of Pineville, et al." on Justia Law

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This matter arose from a 2006 class action suit instituted by Steve Crooks and Era Lee Crooks (“Class Plaintiffs”) against the State through the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources (“LDNR”) concerning the ownership of riverbanks in the Catahoula Basin and subsequent mineral royalty payments. The Louisiana Supreme Court granted review in this case to address whether mandamus may lie to compel the State to pay a judgment rendered against it for mineral royalty payments. Finding that the payment of a judgment concerning the return of mineral royalties received by the State required legislative appropriation, an act that is discretionary in nature, the appellate court erred in issuing the writ of mandamus. View "Crooks, et al. v. Louisiana, Dept. of Nat. Resources" on Justia Law

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The property at issue was part of a larger tract purchased by Clarence Saloom in 1953 during his marriage to Pauline Womac Saloom. The entire tract was about 80 acres and became known as the “Pine Farm.” Plaintiffs were Clarence and Pauline’s three children: Patricia Saloom, Clarence Saloom Jr., and Daniel Saloom. Pauline died in 1973, and her one-half community interest in the Pine Farm was inherited by plaintiffs. A judgment of possession recognizing them as owners of Pauline’s one-half interest in the Pine Farm, subject to a usufruct in Clarence’s favor, was signed in 1974, and recorded in the public land records of Lafayette Parish. About two years later, the Louisiana Department of Highways (now the Department of Transportation and Development (the “state”)), contacted Clarence about purchasing a piece of the Pine Farm in connection with a project to widen and improve La. Highway 339. The instrument identifies Clarence as “husband of Pauline Womac Saloom” but does not mention Pauline’s death or plaintiffs’ inheritance of her interest in the property. Plaintiffs are not identified in the act of sale, did not sign it, and apparently were unaware of it for several years. In 1985, after learning of their father’s 1976 conveyance, plaintiffs hired an attorney who informed the state that plaintiffs owned an undivided one-half interest in the property. In 2015, about twenty years after Clarence’s death, the state began constructing improvements to Highway 339 on the property. Plaintiffs again contacted the state. In a May 18, 2016 letter, plaintiffs’ counsel confirmed the same information he had relayed to the state over thirty years earlier, specifically the state did not purchase all of the property in 1976 because Clarence only owned an undivided one-half interest. The state claimed to have acquired all interests in the property at issue and declined payment for plaintiffs' interest. Plaintiffs thereafter filed suit seeking damages for inverse condemnation. The Louisiana Supreme Court reversed the court of appeal judgment reversing the trial court’s judgment and granting the state’s motion for summary judgment was vacated. Because the court of appeal did not consider the state’s remaining arguments in support of its motion and in opposition to plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment, the case was remanded the matter to the court of appeal for consideration of the state’s remaining assignments of error. View "Saloom v. Louisiana Dept. of Transportation & Dev." on Justia Law

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Certiorari was granted in this case to resolve a split in the decisions of the Louisiana courts of appeal regarding the relationship between La. C.C.P. art. 425 and the res judicata statutes, La. R.S. 13:4231 and 13:4232. Particularly, the Supreme Court considered whether Article 425 was an independent claim preclusion provision apart from res judicata such that identity of parties was not required to preclude a subsequent suit, or whether Article 425 merely referenced the requirements of res judicata and thus a claim could not be precluded unless it was between the same parties as a prior suit. After reviewing the law and the arguments of the parties, the Louisiana Supreme Court found Article 425 functioned simply as a measure that put litigants on notice at the outset and, during the course of litigation, all causes of action arising out of the transaction or occurrence that is the subject matter of the litigation must be asserted. "Rather than have independent enforcement effect, Article 425 operates in tandem with and is enforced through the exception of res judicata. Because Article 425 is enforced through res judicata, all elements of res judicata–including identity of parties–must be satisfied for a second suit to be precluded." View "Carollo v. Louisiana Dept. of Transportation & Development" on Justia Law

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Adrian Perkins, the then-current mayor of Shreveport, Louisiana, sought reelection to that office. On July 22, 2022, Perkins signed and filed a notice of candidacy form, as required by La. R.S. 18:461 to become a candidate in a primary election. The requirements for the notice of candidacy set forth in La. R.S. 18:463 include a requirement that the candidate certify nine items. It was undisputed Perkins signed the form certifying all required statements and that his certification as to Item 8 on the notice of candidacy form, was incorrect. Perkins has two residences–Stratmore Circle and Marshall Street– both within the city of Shreveport. Although Perkins was registered to vote at the Stratmore Circle address at the time of his qualification, it was undisputed he maintained a homestead exemption at the Marshall Street residence. The two residences were in different voting precincts. Francis Deal, a qualified elector, filed a “Petition in Objection to Candidacy” asserting Perkins’ false certification on the notice of candidacy form disqualified him from being a candidate for mayor pursuant to La. R.S. 18:492. Deal also asserted that pursuant to La. R.S. 18:101(B), Perkins was required to be registered to vote in the precinct where he claimed his homestead exemption, and his failure to do so caused him to be an unqualified elector and candidate. After considering the evidence, the district court disqualified Perkins as a candidate in the primary election for the office of the Mayor of the city of Shreveport. The Louisiana Supreme Court reversed, holding that only those false certifications specifically listed in La. R.S. 18:492(A)(5) through (7) constituted grounds for objecting to a candidate. Because the certification at issue in this case was not specifically listed in La. R.S. 18:492, it could not serve as a basis to disqualify the candidate here. View "Deal v. Perkins et al." on Justia Law

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In 2016, Nucor Steel Louisiana, LLC submitted a tax refund claim to St. James Parish School Board and the St. James Parish Tax Agency (collectively the “Collector”). The claim alleged an overpayment of sales and use tax paid pursuant to a full contract price that was rebated. In 2018, the Collector issued a written denial of Nucor’s refund claim. Following the redetermination hearing, the Collector sent Nucor another letter denying the refund claim. Then, on May 24, 2018, just over two years after the Collector received the refund claim, Nucor appealed the denial to the Board of Tax Appeal (“BTA”). The Collector responded by filing peremptory exceptions of prescription, peremption, and res judicata, asserting that Nucor failed to timely appeal under La. R.S. 47:337.81(A)(2). The BTA granted the Collector’s exceptions, finding Paragraph (A)(2) provides “two alternative prescriptive periods for a taxpayer to appeal refund denial.” Because the Collector failed to render a decision within one year of Nucor’s refund claim being filed, Nucor had 180 days, or until July 26, 2017, to appeal. Thus, the BTA found Nucor’s May 24, 2018 appeal untimely. Nucor appealed. The court of appeal reversed, finding that Nucor’s appeal within 90 days of that decision was timely. The court of appeal also found the Collector’s statement to Nucor that it had “ninety (90) calendar days” to appeal amounted to a representation that Nucor relied upon to its detriment. Using the standard set forth in Suire v. Lafayette City-Parish Consolidated Government, 04-1459 (La. 4/12/05), 907 So.2d 37, which only required a reasonable reliance on a representation, the court found the Collector estopped from arguing prescription. The Louisiana Supreme Court granted the Collector’s writ application to determine the proper interpretation of the appeal periods in La. R.S. 47:337.81 and to determine the proper standard for evaluating the estoppel and detrimental reliance claims. The Supreme Court reversed the court of appeal and reinstated the trial court’s ruling on the exceptions. View "Nucor Steel Lousiana, LLC v. St. James Parish School Board et al." on Justia Law

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The Louisiana Supreme Court granted certiorari in this case to decide whether the district court had jurisdiction over a claim for penalties against an insurer arising from its failure to provide a defense in workers’ compensation proceedings, and, if so, whether the insurer violated its duties of good faith and fair dealing, thereby making it liable for damages and penalties. After review of the trial court record, the Supreme Court concluded the district court had jurisdiction over the claim and correctly found that the insurer breached its duties to its insured. However, the Court found the district court’s damage award rose to the level of an abuse of discretion. The judgment of the court of appeal was amended to award damages in favor of Cox, Cox, Filo, Camel & Wilson, LLC and against Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Corporation in the total amount of $61,655.00, representing $20,550.00 in special damages and $41,100.00 in penalties. View "Cox, Cox, Filo, Camel & Wilson, LLC v. Louisiana Workers' Compensation Corporation" on Justia Law

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The Louisiana Cemetery Board (“LCB”) challenged a district court’s judgment finding Louisiana Administrative Code 46:XIII.1503 C to be unconstitutional. Whether the Louisiana Supreme Court had appellate jurisdiction was raised as an issue in an Answer to Appeal filed by appellees, Westlawn Cemeteries, L.L.C. and the Trustees of the Westlawn Memorial Park Perpetual Care Trust Fund. The Supreme Court determined it did not have appellate jurisdiction in this case because the LCB was not a “governing body” and did not exercise “legislative functions.” Its rules and regulations, therefore, were not “laws” for which appellate jurisdiction would lie with the Supreme Court. However, the Court exercised its supervisory jurisdiction to "avoid further delay, and is in the interest of judicial economy." The Court found that the trial court properly found LAC 46:XIII.1503 C to be unconstitutional. "As the only issue in this appeal is the constitutionality of the Rule, no purpose would be served by remanding this case to the appellate court before review would inevitably be sought in this Court." View "Westlawn Cemeteries, LLC v. Louisiana Cemetery Board" on Justia Law

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Jefferson Parish directly appealed a trial court’s judgment finding that Jefferson Parish ordinance, Section 36-320, et seq., titled, “School Bus Safety Enforcement Program for Detecting Violations of Overtaking and Passing School Buses” (“SBSEP”), was unconstitutional. After receiving notices of alleged violations of Section 36-320, et seq., of the Jefferson Parish Code of Ordinances, petitioners filed a class action Petition for Damages and Declaratory Judgment. They asserted multiple arguments against the SBSEP, including arguments based on violations of the Jefferson Parish Home Rule Charter and violations of Louisiana statutory law. Petitioners sought a judgment declaring Section 36-320, et seq. unconstitutional and the return of the fines they paid pursuant to the violations. The Louisiana Supreme Court affirmed the trial court, finding Section 36-320, et seq., unconstitutional because it violated Article VI, Section 5(G) and Article VIII, Section 10(A) of the Louisiana Constitution. View "Mellor, et al. v. Parish of Jefferson" on Justia Law

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Calcasieu Parish School Board Sales & Use Tax Department and Kimberly Tyree, in her capacity as Administrator thereof (collectively, “CPSB”) appealed the court of appeal's declaration that 2016 Act No. 3 (“Act 3”) was unconstitutional for violating La. Const. Art. VII, section 2 (the “Tax Limitation Clause”). Appellee Nelson Industrial Steam Company (“NISCO”) owned and operated an electrical power generating facility in Lake Charles in which it produced multiple products: electricity, steam, and ash. After not taxing NISCO for its limestone purchases for many years, the Louisiana Department of Revenue (“LDR”) and CPSB sued NISCO to collect unpaid taxes for its limestone purchases between 2005 and 2012. The suit went before the Louisiana Supreme Court in Bridges v. Nelson Indus. Steam Co., 190 So. 3d 276 (“NISCO I”), in which the Court determined the limestone purchases were excluded from sales tax of sales at retail under the “further processing exclusion” as then set forth in La. R.S. 47:301(10)(c)(i)(aa). Before NISCO I was final, Act 3 was passed into law in the 2016 Second Extraordinary Session with less than a two-thirds favorable vote of the members of both houses of the Legislature. Following legislative amendments, CPSB brought the underlying lawsuit against NISCO to collect sales taxes on its limestone purchases retroactively. The court of appeal held that Act 3 was a “new tax” and therefore unconstitutional under the Tax Limitation Clause for failure to garner a two-thirds vote in each house of the Legislature. Finding no reversible error in that judgment, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Calcasieu Parish School Bd. Sales & Use Dept., et al. v. Nelson Industrial Steam Co." on Justia Law