Justia Government & Administrative Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in New York Court of Appeals
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The Court of Appeals reversed the decision of the Workers' Compensation Board upholding Claimant's award for loss of post-accident earnings, holding that because the Board departed from its administrative precedent without explanation, the case must be remitted so the Board may clarify its rationale and issue a decision in accordance with Matter of Zamora v. New York Neurologic Association, 19 NY3d 186 (N.Y. 2012). On appeal, Appellants argued that the Board's decision was inappropriate because, at the time of her disability classification, Claimant failed to establish that she attempted to and could not find work commensurate with her abilities. Before the Court of Appeals the Board admitted that it departed from its purported precedent by applying a discretionary inference in favor of Claimant as permitted by Zamora without first requiring Claimant to present evidence of her efforts to obtain work or get retrained. The Court of Appeals reversed and remitted the matter to the Board to permit the Board to develop a record of its purported precedent as applied to Claimant and clarify its determination whether to draw an inference in accordance with Zamora's core holding. View "O'Donnell v. Erie County" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals reversed the order of the Appellate Division reversing the decision of the Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board that Claimant, a former courier with Postmates, Inc., and others similarly situated are employees for whom Postmates is required to make contributions to the unemployment insurance fund, holding that there was substantial evidence supporting the Board's finding that the couriers were employees. In reversing the Board's determination, the Appellate Division concluded that the proof did not constitute substantial evidence of an employer-employee relationship to the extent that it failed to provide sufficient indicia of Postmates' control over the means by which the couriers performed their work. The Court of Appeals revered, holding that substantial evidence supported the Board's determination that Postmates exercised control over its couriers sufficient to render them employees rather than independent contractors. View "In re Vega" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals confirmed the determination of a local services agency, confirmed by a state agency, that child support payments a parent receives, made for the benefit of her five children living at home, are included as "household" income in deciding whether the household is eligible for benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), holding that, for the purposes of SNAP, child support directly received by a parent is household income, even if it is used for the benefit of an ineligible college student living at home. The Suffolk County Department of Social Services (DSS) discontinued the household's benefits because its income exceeded the upper limit for the household. Because the two college children were ineligible for SNAP, DSS did not count them as household members but did include the full amount of child support in its calculation of household income. The mother appealed, arguing that the college children's pro rata share of the child support payment should be excluded from household income, rendering the household SNAP-eligible. The Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA) upheld the determination. The Appellate Division confirmed the OTDA's determination. The Court of Appeals also confirmed, holding that the OTDA's interpretation of the relevant federal statutes was not irrational and was entitled to deference. View "Leggio v. Devine" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals held that the Public Service Law, in authorizing the Public Service Commission (PSC) to set the conditions under which public utilities will transport consumer-owned electricity and gas, authorized the PSC to issue an order that conditioned access to public utility infrastructure by energy service companies (ESCOs) upon ESCOs capping their prices in a certain manner. In 2016, the PSC issued the order challenged in this case that conditioned ESCOs' access to public utility infrastructure upon ESCOs capping their prices such that, on an annual basis, they charge no more for electricity than is charged by public utilities unless thirty percent of the energy is derived from renewable sources. Petitioners - ESCOs and their representative trade associations - commenced these two separate proceedings - combined N.Y. C.P.L.R. 78 proceedings and actions for declaratory judgment - seeking a declaration that the order was void and a a permanent injunction enjoin the PSC from enforcing the order. Supreme Court granted the petitions to the extent of vacating the challenged provisions of the order. The Appellate Division unanimously affirmed. The Court of Appeals modified the Appellate Division's orders, holding that the PSC did not exceed its statutory authority or violate Petitioners' constitutional rights in issuing the order. View "National Energy Marketers Ass'n v New York State Public Service Commission" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals reversed the decision of the Appellate Division affirming the decision of Supreme Court annulling the decision of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) to approve the redevelopment of 346 Broadway, a historic building that the LPC previously designated as a landmark, holding that the LPC's decision was not irrational or affected by errors of law. If an application seeks to alter or demolish a landmark, the LPC must issue a certificate of appropriateness (COA) before the proposed work can begin. In this case, a developer seeking to convert the 346 Broadway into private residences sought a COA from the LPC. The LPC approved the proposal. Supreme Court annulled the COA, The Appellate Division affirmed. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the Appellate Division erred in concluding that the LPC acted with "no rational basis" and that the LPC's decisions were not affected by an error of law. View "Save America's Clocks, Inc. v City of New York" on Justia Law

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In these joint appeals from putative class actions, the Supreme Court reversed the orders of the Appellate Division rejecting the New York State Department of Labor's (DOL) interpretation of the DOL's Miscellaneous Industries and Occupations Minimum Wage Order (Wage Order), holding that DOL's interpretation of its Wage Order did not conflict with the promulgated language, nor did DOL adopt on irrational or unreasonable construction. Under the Wage Order, an employer must pay its home health care aid employees for each hour of a twenty-four-hour shift. At issue in this case was DOL's interpretation of its Wage Order to require payment for at least thirteen hours of a twenty-four-hour shift if the employee is allowed a sleep break of at least eight hours and actually receives five hours of uninterrupted sleep and three hours of meal break time. Supreme Court refused to adopt DOL's interpretation and determined that class certification was appropriate. The Appellate Division affirmed, concluding that DOL's interpretation was neither rational nor reasonable because it conflicted with the plain language of the Wage Order. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the Appellate Division failed to afford adequate deference to DOL's interpretation of the Wage Order. View "Andryeyeva v. New York Health Care, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals held that the determination of the New York State Authorities Budget Office (ABO) denying the request of Petitioners - Madison County Industrial Development Agency (MCIDA) and Madison Grant Facilitation Corporation (MGFC) - to file consolidated audit reports was not irrational, arbitrary and capricious, or contrary to law. ABO informed MCFC that it must comply with the reporting requirements of the Public Authorities Accountability Act (PAAA) as a corporation legally affiliated with MCIDA, an industrial development agency (IDA) and a “local authority” subject to the PAAA. MCIDA asked that the ABO treat MGFC as its subsidiary and allow the two entities to file consolidated reports. The ABO denied MCIDA’s request after the Attorney General issued a formal opinion concluding that an IDA is not authorized to create a subsidiary. Petitioners then commenced this N.Y. C.P.L.R. 78 proceeding challenging the ABO’s determination. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the ABO’s narrow record-keeping determination was not contrary to law, nor was it irrational or arbitrary and capricious. View "Madison County Industrial Development Agency v. State Authorities Budget Office" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals held that N.Y. Mental Hyg. Law 33.13, which protects the confidentiality of the clinical records of patients and clients as maintained by facilities licensed or operated by the Office of Mental Health or the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities, does not require automatic sealing of the entire court record of all proceedings involving insanity acquittees who have dangerous mental disorders within the meaning of N.Y. Crim. Proc. Law (CPL) 330.20. Defendant, an insanity acquittee, was found to have a dangerous mental disorder as defined by CPL 330.20(1)(c) and was committed to the custody of the Commissioner for the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities. Supreme Court denied Defendant’s motion to seal the entire court record in his case, finding that the documents related to the legal proceedings rather than Defendant’s treatment. The Appellate Division modified. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the legislature provided no automatic sealing requirement of an entire court record in either CPL 330.20 or the Mental Hygiene Law for an insanity acquittee, and Defendant cited no authority for such an obligation. View "In re James Q." on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the Appellate Division affirming the decision of the Workers’ Compensation Board that Claimant was entitled to 275 weeks of additional compensation due to an arm he received during the course of his employment under Workers’ Compensation Law WCL 15(3)(v) (paragraph v), holding that awards for additional compensation are not subject to the durational limits contained in WCL 15(3)(w) (paragraph w). Paragraph v permits certain permanently partially disabled workers who have exhausted their schedule awards to apply for additional compensation. Claimant did just that and was awarded additional compensation. On appeal, Claimant argued that paragraph v incorporates only paragraph w’s formula for calculating the weekly payment amount and not paragraph w’s durational component setting forth the number of weeks that sum is paid. The Court of Appeals disagreed and affirmed, holding that under the plain language of paragraph v, additional compensation awards are calculated pursuant to the formula and durational provisions of paragraph w. View "Mancini v. Services" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals concluded that the Appellate Division erred in holding that the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) had an obligation to provide sex offenders residing in a residential treatment facility (RTF) with substantial assistance in identifying appropriate housing, holding that the agency met its statutory obligation to assist Petitioner in this case. The Board of Parole imposed a special condition on Petitioner’s release requiring him to propose an appropriate Sexual Assault Reform Act (SARA)-compliant residence to be investigated and approved by DOCCS. Because Petitioner was unable to identify a suitable residence by his maximum expiration date, the Board of Parole imposed the condition that Petitioner be transferred to a RTF. Petitioner commenced this N.Y. C.P.L.R. 78 proceeding asserting that DOCCS failed to provide him with assistance in locating housing. The Appellate Court concluded that DOCCS had an affirmative statutory obligation to provide “substantial assistance” to inmates who have been placed in an RTF and who are subject to the mandatory residency restrictions in SARA in locating appropriate housing and that DOCCS failed to satisfy its statutory duty to Petitioner. The Court of Appeals modified the order of the Appellate Division, holding that the Appellate Division erred in imposing a heightened duty of substantial assistance on DOCCS. View "Gonzalez v. Annucci" on Justia Law