Justia Government & Administrative Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in North Dakota Supreme Court
Interest of N.L.
N.L., Sr. appeals from the juvenile court’s order terminating his parental rights. A.H. and N.L., Sr. were the biological mother and father of N.L., Jr., born in 2015 and J.L., born in 2018. In August 2020, N.L. and J.L. were removed from their home after law enforcement performed a welfare check. N.L., Sr. argues the court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to terminate his parental rights, the Grand Forks County Human Service Zone (GFCHSZ) lacked standing, and the court erred in finding GFCHSZ met the requirements for termination of parental rights under the federal Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) and N.D.C.C. § 27-20.3-19. Finding no reversible error, the North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed the termination. View "Interest of N.L." on Justia Law
Nodak Electric Coop. v. N.D. Public Svc. Commission, et al.
Otter Tail Power Company provided electric service to the City of Drayton, North Dakota under a franchise agreement. In August 2019, Drayton annexed to the city property known as McFarland’s Addition. In November 2019, an entity purchased a portion of McFarland’s Addition with the intention of building a truck stop. In April 2020, Drayton passed a resolution requiring Otter Tail to provide electric service to McFarland’s Addition. Nodak Electric Coop provided service to rural customers outside of Drayton, and did not provide services to customers in McFarland’s Addition. Nodak did not have a franchise from Drayton to provide electric service in the city. Nodak filed suit against Otter Tail, requesting the Public Service Commission to prohibit Otter Tail from extending electric service to McFarland’s Addition. Nodak alleged Otter Tail’s service would interfere with Nodak’s existing service and be an unreasonable duplication of services. In response, Otter Tail claimed the PSC lacked jurisdiction over Drayton’s decision on which provider could extend service within the city. The North Dakota Supreme Court determined the PSC lacked jurisdiction to rule on Nodak’s complaint, and reversed and vacated the PSC’s order: Otter Tail’s motion to dismiss should have been granted. View "Nodak Electric Coop. v. N.D. Public Svc. Commission, et al." on Justia Law
Provins v. WSI, et al.
Cliff Provins appealed a district court judgment affirming an administrative law judge’s (“ALJ”) decision that affirmed a Workforce Safety and Insurance (“WSI”) order denying liability for his post-traumatic stress disorder (“PTSD”) and ending disability benefits in November 2019. After review, the North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the ALJ did not err in concluding Provins’s PTSD was not compensable, and a reasoning mind could reasonably conclude his physical injuries did not cause his PTSD. View "Provins v. WSI, et al." on Justia Law
Dominek, et al. v. Equinor Energy, et al.
The federal district court for the District of North Dakota certified five questions regarding N.D.C.C. § 38-08-08(1) and North Dakota Industrial Commission pooling orders. The litigation before the federal court involved allocation of mineral royalties in the case of overlapping oil and gas spacing units. Allen and Arlen Dominek owned oil and gas interests in Williams County, North Dakota. In 2011, the North Dakota Industrial Commission pooled the interests in Section 13 on the Dominek property with the interests in Section 24 in a 1280-acre spacing unit (the “Underlying Spacing Unit”). In 2016, the Commission pooled the interests in Sections 11, 12, 13, and 14 in a 2560-acre spacing unit (the “Overlapping Spacing Unit). The "Weisz" well terminated in the southeast corner of Section 14. The Defendants (together “Equinor”) operated the Weisz well. The Domineks sued Equinor in federal district court to recover revenue proceeds from the Weisz well. The parties agreed production from the Weisz well should have been allocated equally to the four sections comprising the Overlapping Spacing Unit. Their disagreement was whether the 25% attributable to Section 13 should have been shared with the interest owners in Section 24 given those sections were pooled in the Underlying Spacing Unit. In response to the motions, the federal district court certified five questions to the North Dakota Court. Responding "no" to the first: whether language from N.D.C.C. § 38-08-08(1) required production from Section 13 to be allocated to Section 24, the Supreme Court declined to answer the remaining questions because it found they were based on an assumption that the Commission had jurisdiction to direct how production was allocated among mineral interest owners. "Questions concerning correlative rights and the Commission’s jurisdiction entail factual considerations. ... An undeveloped record exposes this Court 'to the danger of improvidently deciding issues and of not sufficiently contemplating ramifications of the opinion.'” View "Dominek, et al. v. Equinor Energy, et al." on Justia Law
Anton v. Klipfel, et. al.
Kristin Anton appealed a district court judgment affirming an order by Job Service North Dakota denying Anton pandemic unemployment assistance benefits. Anton stopped working on March 12, 2020 when the public schools closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Anton stopped working because she relied on the school system to provide childcare for at least one of her children. Her employer, Heart River Cleaning, did not close and did not hold Anton’s position for her while she stayed home to watch her children. Anton challenged the finding that she had failed to prove she was entitled to pandemic unemployment benefits under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). Finding no reversible error, the North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed the district court. View "Anton v. Klipfel, et. al." on Justia Law
Goff v. NDDOT
Robert Goff appealed a district court judgment affirming a Department of Transportation hearing officer’s decision to suspend his driving privileges and denying costs and attorney’s fees. In December 2021, Fargo Police Department officers responded to a report of an unresponsive motorist parked in the parking lot of an apartment building. When Officer Blake Omberg arrived at the scene, he saw an individual, later identified as Goff, asleep in a pickup truck parked in the parking lot. Another officer and emergency personnel were already at the scene. Firefighters eventually unlocked the vehicle and Goff was awoken by law enforcement. Goff called his father, John Goff, an attorney who owned the apartment building and parking lot. John Goff arrived at the scene and spoke with law enforcement. Robert Goff was eventually arrested for being in actual physical control of a vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor. The Department of Transportation issued Goff a report and notice informing him that it intended to suspend his driving privileges. Goff requested an administrative hearing. The North Dakota Supreme Court reversed the suspension, concluding the public does not have a right of access to a private parking lot for vehicular use when the lot is marked “private property” and a city ordinance makes such use unlawful when so marked. The case was remanded to the district court to reconsider costs and attorney’s fees. View "Goff v. NDDOT" on Justia Law
Hendrix, et al. v. Jaeger
Jared Hendrix, as chairman of the North Dakota for Term Limits Sponsoring Committee, and North Dakota for Term Limits (collectively, “Petitioners” or “Committee”) petitioned for a writ of mandamus requiring the Secretary of State to place the Term Limits Initiative on the November 8, 2022, general election ballot. The Secretary of State rejected 29,101 signatures on circulated petitions and concluded the initiative did not qualify for placement on the ballot. The Petitioners argued the Secretary of State improperly invalidated signatures on the basis of a finding of notary fraud relating to two circulators, a pattern of notary fraud relating to one notary, violation of the pay-per-signature ban, and other issues. The North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the Secretary of State misapplied the law by excluding signatures on the basis of a determination that a pattern of likely notary violations on some petitions permitted his invalidation of all signatures on all petitions that were sworn before the same notary. Because adding the signatures invalidated for imputed fraud to the 17,265 other signatures accepted by the Secretary of State places the initiative over the constitutional requirement of 31,164, the Supreme Court granted the Committee’s petition and issued a writ of mandamus requiring the Secretary of State to place the Term Limits Initiative on the November 8, 2022, ballot. View "Hendrix, et al. v. Jaeger" on Justia Law
Newfield Exploration Company, et al. v. North Dakota, et al.
The State of North Dakota, ex rel. the North Dakota Board of University and School Lands, and the Office of the Commissioner of University and School Lands, a/k/a the North Dakota Department of Trust Lands appealed a judgment dismissing its claim against Newfield Exploration Company relating to the underpayment of gas royalties. The North Dakota Supreme Court found that the district court concluded the State did not establish a legal obligation owed by Newfield. However, the State pled N.D.C.C. § 47-16-39.1 in its counterclaim, which the court recognized at trial. Because the State satisfied both the pleading and the proof requirements of N.D.C.C. § 47-16-39.1, the Supreme Court held the district court erred in concluding the State did not prove Newfield owed it a legal obligation to pay additional royalties. Rather, as the well operator, Newfield owed the State an obligation under N.D.C.C. § 47-16-39.1 to pay royalties according to the State’s leases. The court failed to recognize Newfield’s legal obligations as a well operator under N.D.C.C. § 47-16-39.1. The Supreme Court concluded the district court erred in dismissing the State's counterclaim; therefore, judgment was reversed and the matter remanded for findings related to the State's damages and Newfield's affirmative defenses. View "Newfield Exploration Company, et al. v. North Dakota, et al." on Justia Law
Sholy v. Cass Cty. Comm’m
David Sholy appealed a district court order dismissing his appeal from the Cass County Commission’s (“Commission”) decision to deny his applications for abatement or refund of taxes. Sholy argued the court misapplied the law in ordering him to file a certificate of record. The Commission argued Sholy failed to timely file his notice of appeal with the court. The North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the district court’s reasoning for dismissing Sholy’s appeal was incorrect but that dismissal was nonetheless appropriate because the court lacked jurisdiction over Sholy’s untimely appeal. The Court therefore affirmed the order dismissing Sholy’s appeal. View "Sholy v. Cass Cty. Comm'm" on Justia Law
Procive v. WSI
Robert Procive appealed when a district court dismissed his appeal of an Administrative Law Judge’s order that denied his claim for Workforce Safety and Insurance (“WSI”) benefits. Procive submitted his first claim in 2020, alleging he suffered carpal tunnel syndrome due to injuries to both wrists, elbows, and shoulders resulting from repetitive digging, hammering and driving stakes, steel posts, and iron rods into the ground. He claimed his original injury occurred in western North Dakota, and he notified his employer of his injury in November 2004 and October 2016. WSI accepted liability for Procive’s right carpal tunnel injury, but denied for the left. Later WSI issued its order reversing its acceptance of liability for the right carpal tunnel, finding Procive willfully made false statements about whether he had prior injuries or received treatment. WSI ordered Procive to repay past benefits he received. After a hearing the ALJ affirmed WSI’s decisions denying coverage. Procive appealed to the district court in Stutsman County. WSI moved to dismiss the appeal, arguing the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction because Procive was required to file his appeal in the county where the injury occurred or the county where he resided. To this, the North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed, finding the district court did not have jurisdiction. View "Procive v. WSI" on Justia Law