Justia Government & Administrative Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in North Dakota Supreme Court
Cass County Joint Water Resource District v. Aaland, et al.
Landowners Cash Aaland, Larry Bakko, and Penny Cirks, appealed orders granting the Cass County Joint Water Resource District (the “District”) a right of entry onto their properties to conduct surveys and examinations related to the Fargo-Moorhead Flood Diversion Project. The Landowners argued these surveys and examinations are beyond the scope of N.D.C.C. 32-15-06. After review, the North Dakota Supreme Court reversed, concluding the District’s right of entry exceeded the limited testing permitted under the statute. The matter was remanded for a determination on attorney’s fees and costs. View "Cass County Joint Water Resource District v. Aaland, et al." on Justia Law
North Dakota v. Bee
Dakota Bee appealed a criminal judgment entered on a conditional plea of guilty, reserving the right to appeal a district court order denying her motion to suppress evidence. Burleigh County Social Services (BCSS) contacted the Bismarck Police Department requesting assistance in removing a child from Bee’s care. Officers accompanied BCSS social workers to Bee’s residence and informed her that they were there to remove her child. Bee refused, backing up into the home, picking up the child, and then running towards the rear of the home. Officers pursued Bee through the home and out the back door. Fleeing out the back, Bee fell while holding the child, and officers separated her from the child. After Bee had been detained outside the residence, a social worker entered the residence to obtain personal belongings for the child, and an officer followed. Once the officer was inside, the social worker pointed out a glass smoking pipe. Bee was subsequently charged with Child Neglect; Possession of Methamphetamine; Possession of Drug Paraphernalia; and Refusal to Halt. The district court found that the officers entered “the residence with BCSS to retrieve personal belongings for the child” after Bee had been detained and the child was in BCSS’s custody. The court further found that the officers observed the glass smoking device on a shelf in plain view. The court concluded the officers’ actions did not violate Bee’s Fourth Amendment rights. On appeal, Bee argued the court erred in concluding that her Fourth Amendment rights were not violated when the officers entered her home. The North Dakota Supreme Court found that during the first entry to the residence, the officers observed nothing that Bee sought to suppress. The second entry of the residence was justified only by a need to collect clothing and other personal items needed by the child. Because the search was concededly warrantless and no exception applies, the Court concluded Bee was entitled to claim the protection of the exclusionary rule. The district court erred by denying Bee’s motion to suppress the results of the warrantless search. Judgment was reversed and the matter remanded to allow Bee to withdraw her guilty plea. View "North Dakota v. Bee" on Justia Law
Breeze v. NDDOT
Joshua Breeze appeals a district court judgment affirming the North Dakota Department of Transportation’s suspension of his driving privileges based on a conviction for driving under the influence. On appeal, Breeze argued that Waltz, a UND police officer, was outside of his jurisdiction when he stopped Breeze, and therefore had no authority for the stop or the subsequent chemical test. The Department argued that Waltz was in “hot pursuit” and therefore had authority for the stop. After review of the trial court record, the North Dakota Supreme Court determined Waltz did not have authority to arrest Breeze: "a reasoning mind could not have reasonably concluded the preponderance of the evidence supports that Waltz was in 'hot pursuit,' as defined by section 15-10-17(2)(d), N.D.C.C., when he continued beyond his jurisdictional boundary to arrest Breeze." The Department's order suspending Breeze's driving privileges, and the district court's judgment affirming the Department's order were reversed. View "Breeze v. NDDOT" on Justia Law
Somerset Court, et al. v. Burgum, et al.
Appellants Somerset Court, LLC, and Kari Riggin appealed a district court judgment dismissing their action seeking a declaratory judgment regarding the validity of the North Dakota Governor’s executive orders. This case began as a challenge to the Governor’s statutory powers in issuing executive orders during the COVID-19 pandemic relating to the operations of certain North Dakota businesses. In April 2020, Somerset, an assisted living facility with an in-house salon, and Riggin, a licensed cosmetologist operating the salon as an independent contractor, claimed the executive orders prohibited Somerset and Riggin from engaging in their business and profession, and placed limitations as to their business and profession. Appellants argued the executive orders were beyond the Governor’s statutory powers; the executive orders involved fundamental rights requiring the application of the strict scrutiny standard of review; and that a declaratory judgment should have been issued as a matter of law and enforced by an appropriate writ. Because Appellants failed to adequately challenge the district court’s conclusion the case was moot, the North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed. View "Somerset Court, et al. v. Burgum, et al." on Justia Law
WSI v. Sandberg, et al.
North Dakota Workforce Safety and Insurance (“WSI”) appealed a district court judgment affirming an ALJ’s revised order on remand, entered after the North Dakota Supreme Court's decision in State by & through Workforce Safety & Ins. v. Sandberg, 2019 ND 198, 931 N.W.2d 488 (“Sandberg I”). The ALJ’s revised order made additional findings of fact and conclusions of law, and again found John Sandberg had sustained a compensable injury and was entitled to benefits. Under its deferential standard of review, the Supreme Court affirmed in part; however, in light of the ALJ’s revised order, the Court remanded the case to WSI for further proceedings on whether benefits should have been awarded on an aggravation basis and the proper calculation of those benefits under N.D.C.C. 65-05-15. View "WSI v. Sandberg, et al." on Justia Law
Oden v. Minot Builders Supply, et al.
Chris Oden appealed a district court order vacating a transcribed Missouri foreign judgment. Oden argued: (1) vacating the transcribed Missouri judgment violated the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the United States Constitution; (2) the court erred in relying on a decision issued between the parties in prior litigation because that decision was barred by administrative res judicata as the result of Oden’s Missouri workers compensation claim; and (3) the court erred by affording a prior judgment res judicata effect while that case was pending on appeal. In May 2010, Oden was injured in Missouri while employed by Minot Builders Supply. North Dakota Workforce Safety and Insurance (“WSI”) accepted the claim and awarded benefits for Oden’s injuries. In May 2013, Oden filed a claim for compensation in Missouri for the same work-related injury. In October 2013, WSI suspended payment of further benefits on Oden’s claim after Oden claimed benefits Missouri. Subsequent to Oden settling his Missouri workers compensation claim, WSI sent Oden notice that the prior North Dakota workers compensation award was being reversed because Oden’s receipt of benefits in Missouri. WSI provided notice to Oden his workers compensation benefits were being denied, informed Oden he would need to reimburse WSI, and informed Oden he had thirty days to request reconsideration. Oden did not request reconsideration of WSI’s decision. In July 2018, WSI commenced an action in North Dakota against Oden seeking reimbursement for previous payments made to Oden. The district court in the Burleigh County case granted summary judgment in favor of WSI and awarded WSI the full amount paid to Oden, plus accruing interest, costs, and disbursements. Oden argued in the North Dakota case that WSI was bound by the Missouri workers compensation settlement because the settlement agreement included a signature of an attorney purportedly acting on behalf of WSI. The court determined WSI could not be bound by the Missouri agreement because WSI was not a party to the settlement, and there was no evidence to support a finding that the attorney who purportedly signed on behalf of WSI had any authority to represent WSI or act as WSI’s agent. Finding no reversible error, the North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed the district court. View "Oden v. Minot Builders Supply, et al." on Justia Law
Matter of Hehn
Darl Hehn appealed a district court order denying his petition for discharge from civil commitment as a sexually dangerous individual. The North Dakota Supreme Court the case to the district court for further findings and retained jurisdiction under N.D.R.App.P. 35(a)(3). Upon return, the Supreme Court concluded the trial court did not err in holding the State proved Hehn remained a sexually dangerous individual. The Court affirmed the trial court’s order as supplemented by its order entered on remand. View "Matter of Hehn" on Justia Law
McClintock v. NDDOT
The North Dakota Department of Transportation appealed a district court judgment reversing a Department hearing officer’s decision suspending James McClintock’s driving privileges for a period of 91 days. The Department argued the court erred in reversing because the greater weight of the evidence showed the Intoxilyzer 8000 was installed by a field inspector before its use. To this the North Dakota Supreme Court concurred, reversed the judgment and reinstated the hearing officer’s decision. View "McClintock v. NDDOT" on Justia Law
Thompson-Widmer v. Larson, et al.
Carrie Thompson-Widmer appealed the dismissal of her claims of defamation and tortious interference with a business relationship against Kimberly Larson, Wells County, Eddy County, and Foster County. In January 2017, Larson filed a formal complaint with the State Board of Social Work Examiners against Thompson-Widmer on the basis of Thompson-Widmer’s actions in two child protection services cases. Larson alleged Thompson-Widmer misrepresented information about a child’s home environment in one case, and altered a report about methamphetamine in an infant’s meconium in the other case. Larson also met with a state’s attorney about Thompson-Widmer’s actions. The attorney referred the matter to a special prosecutor for consideration of potential criminal charges. Because the complaint to the State Board was filed while Thompson-Widmer was a Tri-County employee, Larson placed the complaint and the supporting documents in Thompson-Widmer’s employee personnel file. After the criminal investigation into Thompson-Widmer’s action was suspended, she became employed with Catholic Charities in April 2017. Tri-County worked with Catholic Charities on adoption placement cases. Larson’s staff informed her they did not feel comfortable working with Thompson- Widmer. Larson notified Catholic Charities that Tri-County would rather work with someone other than Thompson-Widmer. Catholic Charities submitted an open records request for Thompson-Widmer’s personnel file, and Larson fulfilled the request on Tri-County’s behalf. In May 2017, after receiving the personnel file, which included Larson’s complaint against Thompson-Widmer, Thompson-Widmer was terminated because she was not forthcoming about her issues while employed by Tri-County. After review, the North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed, concluding Larson’s communications were privileged and therefore not subject to liability for defamation. View "Thompson-Widmer v. Larson, et al." on Justia Law
WSI v. Cherokee Services Group, et al.
Cherokee Services Group, LLC; Cherokee Nation Government Solutions, LLC; Cherokee Medical Services, LLC; Cherokee Nation Technologies, LLC (collectively referred to as the “Cherokee Entities”); Steven Bilby; and Hudson Insurance Company (“Hudson Insurance”) appealed district court orders and a judgment reversing an administrative law judge’s (“ALJ”) order. The ALJ’s order concluded the Cherokee Entities and Bilby were protected by tribal sovereign immunity and Workforce Safety and Insurance (“WSI”) had no authority to issue a cease and desist order to Hudson Insurance. The district court reversed the ALJ’s determination. The Cherokee Entities were wholly owned by the Cherokee Nation; Bilby served as executive general manager of the Cherokee Entities. Hudson Insurance provided worldwide workers’ compensation coverage to Cherokee Nation, and the Cherokee Entities were named insureds on the policy. WSI initiated an administrative proceeding against the Cherokee Entities, Bilby, and Hudson Insurance. WSI determined the Cherokee Entities were employers subject to North Dakota’s workers’ compensation laws and were liable for unpaid workers’ compensation premiums. WSI also ruled that Bilby, as executive general manager, was personally liable for unpaid premiums. WSI ordered the Cherokee Entities to pay the unpaid premiums, and ordered Hudson Insurance to cease and desist from writing workers’ compensation coverage in North Dakota. The Cherokee Nation had no sovereign land in North Dakota, and the Cherokee Entities were operating within the state but not on any tribal lands. The North Dakota Supreme Court reversed the district court judgment, and reinstated and affirmed the ALJ’s order related to the cease and desist power of WSI, but the matter was remanded to the ALJ for further proceedings on the issue of sovereign immunity. View "WSI v. Cherokee Services Group, et al." on Justia Law