Justia Government & Administrative Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in North Dakota Supreme Court

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On August 14, 2017, Susan Franciere and her dog were attacked by another dog in Mandan. Two days later, she went to the Mandan Police Department, asserted her rights under Article I, section 25 of the North Dakota Constitution, and requested a copy of the police report on the incident under the open records law. On August 17, 2017, she called the police department and was informed the dog was undergoing a 10-day rabies quarantine. On August 18, 2017, Franciere sent a letter to the chief of police requesting the police report. On August 22, 2017, she received a phone call from a police lieutenant who told her she would not receive the report because the case was still active and no information would be released until the case was closed. In September 2017, she contacted the city attorney about the incident. In October, she filed suit in another attempt to get the records. On November 1, 2017, Franciere received a redacted version of the report. On January 13, 2018, she received an unredacted report. She appealed when her case was dismissed as moot, because Franciere eventually received the records she requested. The district court specifically declined to rule on the City’s motion to dismiss the proceedings for insufficient service of process and lack of personal jurisdiction. The North Dakota Supreme Court determined that because a determination of subject matter and personal jurisdiction had to precede any dismissal with prejudice, the court was required to resolve the motion to dismiss for insufficiency of service and lack of personal jurisdiction before dismissing the claims with prejudice on the grounds that they were moot. The judgment was vacated and the matter remanded for a ruling on the City's motion to dismiss. View "Franciere v. City of Mandan" 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 Ewer Alvarado's driving privileges for 180 days. NDDOT argued the district court erred in finding that a partial reading of the implied consent advisory rendered Alvarado's refusal to submit to a chemical test invalid. The North Dakota Supreme Court concluded North Dakota law required an operator to refuse a request "to submit to a test under section 39-20-01." A request for testing preceded by an incomplete or inaccurate advisory was not a request "to submit to a test under section 39-20-01." Therefore, the Supreme Court affirmed the district court and reinstated Alvarado's driving privileges. View "Alvarado v. N.D. Dept. of Transportation" on Justia Law

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The North Dakota Private Investigative and Security Board appealed, and TigerSwan, LLC and James Reese cross-appealed, a judgment dismissing the Board’s request for an injunction prohibiting TigerSwan and Reese from providing private investigative and security services without a license. Reese was the majority interest owner in TigerSwan, a limited liability company organized under North Carolina law. TigerSwan was registered in North Dakota as a foreign LLC. During protests over construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, TigerSwan was hired to provide security services, though the company denied providing such services when it received a notice from the Board. Concurrent to denying providing security services to the pipeline, TigerSwan submitted an application packet to become a licensed private security provider in North Dakota. The North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying the injunction or in the denial of a motion for sanctions and attorney fees. View "North Dakota Private Investigative & Security Board v. TigerSwan, LLC, et al." on Justia Law

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In 2014, Leonard Taylor, then 55 years old, sustained severe work-related injuries when he fell 15 feet while employed as an electrician by Industrial Contractors, Inc. Taylor suffered multiple compression fractures of the thoracic vertebrae, with a fragment impinging the spinal cord resulting in partial paraplegia. Taylor underwent surgery and was diagnosed with a spinal cord injury, incomplete paraplegia at T5-6, neurogenic bowel and bladder, a closed head injury, and neuropathic pain. While at the hospital, Taylor exhibited numerous signs of cognitive dysfunction. Taylor was eventually transferred to a hospital rehabilitation unit where he received physical, occupational, and cognitive therapy. WSI accepted liability for Taylor’s claim and paid him benefits. WSI appealed a judgment affirming an Administrative Law Judge’s (“ALJ”) order finding Taylor had a retained earnings capacity of zero and he had good cause for noncompliance with vocational rehabilitation for failing to perform a good faith work search. Because the ALJ misapplied the law in determining Taylor had zero retained earnings capacity, the North Dakota Supreme Court reversed the judgment and remanded to the ALJ for further proceedings. View "WSI v. Taylor, et al." on Justia Law

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The North Dakota Department of Transportation appealed a district court judgent reversing a Department decision suspending Juan Facio's driving privileges for 365 days. Facio was arrested for driving under the influence of intoxicating liquor. After review, the North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed, finding the district court did not err in finding no reasonable and articulable suspicion to stop Facio's vehicle. View "Facio v. N.D. Dept. of Transportation" on Justia Law

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Jack Robinson appeals from a district court judgment affirming a Workforce Safety and Insurance (“WSI”) order finding Robinson personally liable for any unpaid workers’ compensation premiums, penalties, interest, and costs owed by Dalton Logistics, Inc. (“Dalton”). Robinson argues WSI failed to properly serve him with the administrative order resulting in a lack of personal jurisdiction and that his due process rights were violated. The North Dakota Supreme Court found the ALJ failed to make any findings of fact to support its conclusion that Robinson’s motion to dismiss be denied as a matter of law. It therefore reversed the judgment of the district court and remanded to the agency for further proceedings. View "Robinson v. WSI" on Justia Law

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Workforce Safety and Insurance (“WSI”) appealed a judgment affirming an administrative law judge’s (“ALJ”) decision that John Sandberg sustained a compensable injury because his repetitive work activities substantially worsened the severity of his preexisting degenerative disc condition. The North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the ALJ’s findings were not sufficient to understand the basis for the decision. The decision was reversed and the matter remanded for further proceedings. View "WSI v. Sandberg, et al." on Justia Law

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Branden Wilkens appealed a district court judgment and order dismissing his complaint against Tarin Westby without prejudice, concluding service under N.D.C.C. 39-01-11 was improper. Wilkens and Westby were involved in a car accident in North Dakota, resulting in Westby’s death. In February 2018, Wilkens served a summons and complaint asserting a claim of negligence against Westby upon the director of the Department of Transportation (“the Department”) under N.D.C.C. 39-01-11, which allowed residents to serve legal process upon the director of the Department when the party being served was: (1) a resident absent from the state continuously for at least six months following an accident, or (2) a nonresident. In March 2018, an attorney answered on Westby’s behalf, moving to dismiss the complaint, arguing personal jurisdiction was lacking and service under the statute was improper, because Westby, a deceased person, did not fit into the definition of “nonresident,” under the statute and was not “absent from the state” by virtue of his death. The district court concluded Westby was neither a “nonresident,” nor “absent from the state” by virtue of his death for purposes of service. The court granted Westby’s motion to dismiss without prejudice, basing its decision on lack of jurisdiction, but recognized the practical effect, based on the statute of limitations, would be a dismissal with prejudice. Wilkens appealed from the court’s order dismissing his claim. Finding no reversible error, the North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed. View "Wilkens v. Westby" on Justia Law

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The North Dakota Department of Transportation appealed a district court judgment reversing a hearing officer's decision, imposing a 91-day suspension of Benjamin French's driving privileges, and awarding him attorney fees. The North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the court erred in holding French's driving record did not establish his operator's license had previously been revoked within seven years preceding the date of his June 2018 arrest, and the court erred in concluding the appropriate suspension for his then-current offense was 91 days. The court also erred in awarding attorney fees. The Supreme Court reversed judgment, reinstated the Department's decision suspending French's driving privileges for 365 days. View "French v. N.D. Dep't of Transportation" on Justia Law

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In 2005, near the end of a five-year sentence for conviction of corruption or solicitation of a minor, the State successfully petitioned to commit T.A.G. as a sexually dangerous individual. He appealed, arguing the findings were insufficient to demonstrate he had serious difficulty controlling his behavior. The North Dakota Supreme Court reversed denial of T.A.G.'s petition for discharge because it concurred the findings were insufficient to conclude process requirement had been met under Kansas v. Crane, 534 U.S. 407 (2002). View "Interest of T.A.G." on Justia Law