Justia Government & Administrative Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in North Dakota Supreme Court
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Kyle Christianson appealed a district court’s judgment affirming the North Dakota Department of Transportation’s suspension of his driving privileges. Christianson claimed the Department’s hearing file, which was admitted at the adjudication hearing, was improperly certified as a true copy of the Department’s official records. After review, the North Dakota Supreme Court concluded Christianson rebutted the presumption that the individual whose signature certified the record had authority to do so. Therefore, the Court reversed the hearing officer’s decision to admit the hearing file and vacated the Department’s suspension of Christianson’s driving privileges. View "Christianson v. NDDOT" on Justia Law

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T.P.-G. appealed the termination of her parental rights. On appeal, T.P.-G. argued she was denied due process and the juvenile court erred by denying her request to appear by telephone. A petition for involuntary termination of parental rights to a child, A.P.D.S.P.-G., was filed in the juvenile court. After a trial date was set, the mother, T.P.-G, filed a request to appear by phone because she lived in Wisconsin. The court denied the request. At trial, counsel stated T.P.-G. wished to contest the termination, regardless of whether she was able to attend the trial. Counsel stated T.P.-G. regretted being unable to attend, but T.P.-G. was saving her money to travel to see A.P.D.S.P.-G. for his birthday. After trial, the juvenile court found A.P.D.S.P.-G. was a deprived and abandoned child and terminated T.P.-G.’s parental rights to the child. Finding no due process violation, the North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed termination. View "Interest of A.P.D.S.P.-G." on Justia Law

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Lakeview Excavating appealed a district court judgment dismissing its complaint against Dickey County and German Township (Defendants) for breach of contract, intentional fraud, and misrepresentation. In spring 2012, the Defendants awarded to Lakeview three road construction project contracts funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The parties executed three identical contracts, one for each project. The contracts required Lakeview to provide the necessary documents to satisfy FEMA requirements for funding. Lakeview had to use more material than was listed in the bid documents to complete the projects. Some of the material used by Lakeview was taken from private property without permission and resulted in litigation against Lakeview. Lakeview completed the road construction projects in August 2012. In October 2016, Lakeview sued the Defendants for breach of contract, fraud, misrepresentation, and unlawful interference with business. The court ruled Lakeview breached its contracts with the Defendants, and held Lakeview’s tort claims against the Defendants were barred by the statute of limitations. Lakeview appealed, but finding no reversible error, the North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed. View "Lakeview Excavating, Inc. v. Dickey County, et al." on Justia Law

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The North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT) appealed a district court’s judgment reversing an administrative hearing officer’s decision to revoke Carter Schulke’s driving privileges for a period of three years. On May 11, 2019, following a high-speed pursuit, Schulke was stopped by law enforcement, arrested for fleeing, driving under suspension, reckless endangerment, and possession of drug paraphernalia, handcuffed, and placed in a patrol car. While Schulke was seated in the backseat of the patrol car the arresting officer smelled alcohol emanating from Schulke. Because of safety concerns and Schulke’s behavior, the arresting officer did not conduct field sobriety tests or request an alcohol related screening test at the location of the stop. At the correctional center, the arresting officer requested Schulke perform field sobriety tests. Schulke refused to perform the field sobriety tests. Schulke was then read the implied consent warning for the screening test and asked to submit to a screening test pursuant to N.D.C.C. 39-20-14(1). Schulke refused to submit to the screening test. Schulke was then read the implied consent advisory for an Intoxilyzer breath test pursuant to N.D.C.C. 39-20-01. Schulke refused to take the breath test, became extremely uncooperative, and was eventually placed in confinement. Schulke was informed that in addition to the other charges, he was being arrested for “DUI Refusal.” The NDDOT argued the district court erred in reversing the administrative hearing officer’s determination that Schulke refused an alcohol related screening test in violation of N.D.C.C. 39-20-14(1). The North Dakota Supreme Court determined the administrative hearing officer's determination was supported by a preponderance of the evidence. It therefore reversed the district court's judgment and reinstated the administrative hearing officer's decision. View "Schulke v. NDDOT" on Justia Law

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The North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT) appealed a district court judgment reversing an administrative hearing officer’s decision to revoke Kyle Ouradnik’s driving privileges for a period of 91 days. The NDDOT argued the district court erred in reversing the administrative decision by ruling on an issue Ouradnik failed to preserve for appeal during his administrative hearing. The North Dakota Supreme Court concurred, reversed the district court and reinstated the administrative hearing officer’s decision. View "Ouradnik v. N.D. Dept. of Transportation" on Justia Law

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Gerald Aftem and Aftem Lake Developments Inc. (Aftem) appealed a district court judgment dismissing its lawsuit against the Riverview Homeowners Association. In 1998, Aftem purchased 10.69 acres of real property in Mountrail County. Aftem subdivided part of the property into three platted subdivisions; Arrowhead Point, Bridgeview, and Riverview Estates, collectively referred to as the Riverview Subdivisions. Each subdivision plat stated the roads and public rights of way were dedicated to the public. In 2015, the Riverview HOA developed and built a water utility system for the subdivisions. Portions of the water system were located underneath the platted subdivision roads. Aftem sued the Riverview HOA for trespass and negligence, alleging it did not have permission to run its water lines underneath the subdivision roads to which Aftem claimed ownership. Aftem claimed it owned the roads within the subdivision because, although the County Commission approved the plats, the County did not maintain the roads. Riverview HOA denied the allegations, claiming the County Commission’s approval of the subdivision plats divested Aftem of ownership in the subdivision roads. The district court granted Riverview HOA’s motion and concluded Aftem had no ownership interest in the subdivision roads. The North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed, finding Aftem’s subdivision plats satisfied N.D.C.C. section§ 40-50.1-01, 40-50.1-03, and 40-50.1-04. "The plats dedicated the use of the subdivision roads and public rights of way to the public forever. Thus, under N.D.C.C. 40-50.1-05, Aftem’s dedication of the subdivision roads and public rights of way divested Aftem of ownership in the roads." View "Aftem Lake Developments Inc. v. Riverview Homeowners Assoc." on Justia Law

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Nicholas Reineke appeals a district court judgment affirming the administrative hearing officer’s decision to suspend his driver’s license for 365 days. Reineke was arrested for driving under the influence of intoxicating liquor. On May 5, 2019, a temporary operator’s permit was issued to Reineke. On May 15, Reineke requested an administrative hearing. The envelope containing Reineke’s request was returned undeliverable due to an incorrect mailing address for the Department of Transportation. Reineke argued he renewed the request for hearing when he resent the request to the correct mailing address on May 23, 2019. On May 31, an administrative proceeding occurred without providing Reineke notice and without him present. The hearing officer concluded the Department did not have jurisdiction to grant Reineke an administrative hearing because he did not request a hearing in time as required by statute. The hearing officer suspended his license for 365 days. The district court affirmed. The North Dakota Supreme Court concluded Reineke’s untimely request for a hearing did not invoke the Department’s jurisdiction for a hearing. Therefore, the Department and the hearing officer did not have authority to hold the hearing. The only authority the Department had was to administratively revoke Reineke’s license as outlined in N.D.C.C. 39-20-05(1), after expiration of the temporary operator’s permit. Because the hearing officer did not follow the statute, the order was not in accordance with the law. The Supreme Court reversed the district court judgment, and vacated the hearing officer’s order. The Court rejected Reineke’s request to reverse the hearing officer’s decision and reinstate his driving privileges, and remanded for the Department to administer suspension of Reineke’s driving privileges according to law. View "Reineke v. N.D. Dept. of Transportation" on Justia Law

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Workforce Safety and Insurance (WSI) appealed a district court judgment reversing an Administrative Law Judge's (ALJ) confirmation of a prior order of WSI. In 2014, Ellis began receiving partial disability benefits. In 2016, Ellis underwent a functional capacity assessment and further review by WSI. WSI determined Ellis continued to be eligible to receive partial disability benefits, but at a reduced amount. WSI ordered his partial disability benefits be reduced by the greater of his actual wages or his retained earning capacity as had been determined by WSI. Ellis appealed the WSI order, triggering review by the ALJ. WSI contended the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over Ellis’ appeal of the ALJ’s decision because his appeal to the district court was untimely. The North Dakota Supreme Court found the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction because Ellis failed to timely file his appeal of the ALJ's decision. The Court therefore ordered the district court judgment vacated, and reinstated the decision of the ALJ. View "Ellis v. WSI" on Justia Law

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Minn-Kota Ag. Products, Inc. appealed a district court order dismissing Minn-Kota’s appeal of findings of fact, conclusions of law and order issued by the North Dakota Public Service Commission (PSC) for lack of standing and affirming an administrative law judge’s (ALJ) order denying Minn-Kota’s petition to intervene. In 2017, Minn-Kota began construction of a large, $20 million grain handling facility near the municipalities of Barney and Mooreton, North Dakota. During construction of the facility, Minn-Kota received proposals to provide electric power to the facility from Otter Tail Power Co., an electric public utility, and Dakota Valley Electric Cooperative, a rural electric cooperative. Minn-Kota determined Otter Tail would provide cheaper and more reliable electric service and chose Otter Tail as its preferred provider. Dakota Valley protested Otter Tail’s application and requested a hearing. Otter Tail and Dakota Valley were represented at the hearing, and each offered evidence and testimony. Minn- Kota was not a formal party represented at the hearing and, other than the testimony offered by Schuler, Minn-Kota did not contribute to the hearing. In December 2017, the PSC held a work session to contemplate and discuss Otter Tail’s application. The concerns expressed by the PSC at the work session made it clear the PSC was likely going to deny Otter Tail’s application. As a result, Minn-Kota submitted a petition to intervene, which an ALJ determined Minn-Kota submitted after the deadline to intervene had passed, and denied it. Minn-Kota argued it has standing to appeal the PSC’s decision because it participated in the proceedings before the PSC, and the PSC’s decision should be reversed because it was not supported by the facts or law. In the alternative, Minn-Kota argued the case should have been remanded to the PSC and it should have been allowed to intervene and introduce additional evidence into the record. The North Dakota Supreme Court determined Minn-Kota had standing, but did not provide a compelling argument on how Otter Tail did not adequately represent its interests at the administrative hearing or throughout the entirety of the proceedings. Therefore, the Court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and thus affirmed the PSC's order. View "Minn-Kota Ag Products, Inc. v. N.D. Public Service Commission, et al." on Justia Law

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G.L.D. was first civilly committed as a sexually dangerous individual in 2007. G.L.D. petitioned the district court for discharge in April 2016, and a discharge hearing was held in June 2019. At the hearing, Dr. Richard Travis testified for the State. Dr. Travis testified that G.L.D. remains a sexually dangerous individual subject to continued civil commitment. G.L.D. did not call any experts in support of his petition for discharge. At the conclusion of the hearing, the district court orally issued findings of fact and conclusions of law resulting in G.L.D.'s continued commitment. G.L.D. appealed the district court's order denying his petition for discharge from civil commitment. After review, the North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the district court did not make sufficient findings of fact, and remanded for further findings. View "Interest of G.L.D." on Justia Law