Justia Government & Administrative Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in North Carolina Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the judgment of the Industrial Commission denying the Department's motion to dismiss Plaintiffs' claims arising from certain regulatory actions taken by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services in response to deficiencies that Department employees had identified during inspections of Plaintiffs' facility, holding that the Commission erred in failing to dismiss Plaintiffs' claims.Plaintiffs, an adult care home and its owner, contested the Department's regulatory actions by initiating a contested case before the Office of Administrative Hearings. The parties settled. Thereafter, Plaintiffs filed a claim with the Commission pursuant to the North Carolina State Tort Claims Act, alleging negligence. The Department filed a motion to dismiss on the grounds that Plaintiffs' claims were barred by the doctrine of sovereign immunity. The Commission denied the motion, and the court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) Plaintiffs' claims were barred by sovereign immunity; and (2) Plaintiffs failed to assert a viable negligence claim against the Department. View "Cedarbrook Residential Center, Inc. v. N.C. Dep't of Health & Human Services" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that a deceased employee's prior timely filing of a workers' compensation claim for an injury was sufficient to establish the Industrial Commission's jurisdiction over a dependent's subsequent claim for death benefits allegedly resulting from that injury, thus reversing the court of appeals' ruling below.The Commission in this case denied Plaintiff's claim for death benefits and dismissed the claim with prejudice on the grounds that Plaintiff's untimely filing could not grant the Commission jurisdiction over the claim. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the decedent's timely claim established the Commission's jurisdiction over this matter. View "McAuley v. N.C. A&T State University" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the decision of the court of appeals affirming the order of the trial court summarily denying the City of Greensboro's request that the trial court modify restrictions it imposed upon the possible use and discussion of certain police video records by the Greensboro City Council, holding that the trial court abused its discretion.The order at issue was entered pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. 132-1.4A(g) to release recordings of an incident that occurred in Greensboro on September 10, 2016. The City of Greensboro interpreted the conditions in the order as a "gag order" and requested that the trial court modify the restrictions. The trial court summarily denied the request, and the court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court vacated the court of appeals and remanded the case for a new hearing, holding that the trial court abused its discretion by denying, without explanation, the City's motion to modify the restrictions. View "In re Custodial Law Enforcement Recording" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the decision of the court of appeals affirming the order of the trial court denying Nation Ford Baptist Church Inc.'s (Church) motion to dismiss the underlying complaint with respect to Pastor Phillip R.J. Davis's claim for a declaratory judgment, holding that certain claims must be dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.Pastor Davis filed a complaint against the Church and Nation Ford's Board of Directors, arguing that the Board exceeded its authority under the Church's corporate bylaws when it purported to terminate him by vote of the Board because the governing bylaws allowed termination only by vote of the Church's congregation at a special general meeting. The trial court denied the Church's motion to dismiss, and the court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding (1) Pastor Davis's claim for a declaratory judgment regarding the various bylaws can proceed; and (2) First Amendment principles required the dismissal of Pastor Davis's other claims. View "Nation Ford Baptist Church, Inc. v. Davis" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the North Carolina Utilities Commission addressing Dominion Energy North Carolina's application for a general increase in its North Carolina retail rates, holding that Dominion's challenges to the Commission's order were unavailing.In the order at issue, the Commission authorized Dominion to calculate its North Carolina retail rates by, inter alia, amortizing certain costs. Dominion appealed, arguing that the Commission acted capriciously and arbitrarily in failing to follow applicable precedent. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Commission's order was supported by competent, substantial evidence and that the Commission adequately explained the basis for the portions of its decision that Dominion challenged on appeal. View "State ex rel. Utilities Commission v. Virginia Electric & Power Co." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals reversing the opinion and award of the North Carolina Industrial Commission denying Plaintiff relief on her claim for disability compensation from Defendants, holding that there was no error.On appeal, the court of appeals held that Plaintiff's claim was not time-barred under N.C. Gen. Stat. 97-24 and thus reversed the Commission's dismissal of Plaintiff's claim based on a 2014 injury. The court remanded the case to the Commission for a determination as to whether Plaintiff suffered a compensable injury under the Workers' Compensation Act. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Plaintiff's claim was not barred by section 97-24. View "Cunningham v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the order of the superior court affirming the decision of the Board of Review for the North Carolina Department of Commerce adopting the decision of the appeals referee ruling that Frank Lennane was disqualified for unemployment benefits, holding that there was no error.At issue was whether Lennane's leaving work was attributable to his employer, as required by N.C. Gen. Stat. 96-14.5(a), to avoid disqualification for unemployment benefits. The lower courts affirmed the administrative decision that Lennane was disqualified for unemployment benefits because he failed to show good cause attributable to the employer for leaving. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that while Lennane left work for good cause, he failed to satisfy his burden to show that his leaving work was "attributable to the employer" as a matter of law. View "In re Lennane" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming in part and reversing in part the judgment of the trial court finding that the evidence presented was sufficient to support an adjudication of dependency but dismissing a claim of neglect, holding that the court of appeals' analysis showed improper deference to the trial court's conclusion of law.The Cumberland County Department of Social Services (DSS) filed a juvenile petition alleging Kelly to be a neglected and dependent juvenile. The trial court adjudicated Kelly to be dependent but, without explanation, dismissed the claim of neglect. The court of appeals affirmed the trial court's dismissal of the claim of neglect. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded in part, holding that the court of appeals failed to conduct a proper de novo review of the issue of neglect. View "In re K.S." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court modified and affirmed the decision of the court of appeals holding that the decision of the North Carolina Industrial Commission should be reversed and this case remanded to the Commission for recalculation of Plaintiff's average weekly wage, holding that the court of appeals did not err.Plaintiff, an injured employee, received temporary disability benefits. Plaintiff later requested that his claim be assigned for a hearing, claiming that Defendant, his employer, had unilaterally lowered the amount of temporary total disability benefits that he had been receiving with respect to his back injury and that the parties could not agree with respect to the amount of benefits to which Plaintiff was entitled. The Commission determined that the fifth method for calculating Plaintiff's average weekly wage was appropriate for use in this case. The court of appeals reversed and remanded the case. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the findings and conclusions that the Commission made in support of its average weekly wages determination appeared to rest upon a misapplication of the applicable legal standard. View "Nay v. Cornerstone Staffing Solutions" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals reversing the trial court and remanded this case for further remand to the superior court with instructions to reinstate its earlier order granting summary judgment in favor of the Attorney General, holding that the New Hanover County Board of Education's amended complaint did not suffice to support a claim pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. 147-76.1.This case arose from the Board of Education's challenge to the Attorney General administration of an environmental enhancement grant program funded by payments made by Smithfield Foods, Inc. and its subsidiaries pursuant to an agreement between the companies and the Attorney General. The trial court granted summary judgment for the Attorney General and dismissed the Board of Education's allegations that the payments received from the Smithfield companies under the agreement constituted civil penalties that should have been made available to public schools pursuant to N.C. Const. Art. IX, 7. The Supreme Court upheld the trial court's judgment, holding that the court of appeals erred by concluding that the Board of Education’s complaint sufficed to support a claim for relief pursuant to section 147-76.1. View "New Hanover County Board of Education v. Stein" on Justia Law