Articles Posted in Oregon Supreme Court

by
In the underlying property tax appeal, the Tax Court rejected a request by the Department of Revenue and the county assessor to increase the real market value of taxpayer’s property, and the court later awarded taxpayer attorney fees against the department under ORS 305.490(4)(a). The department appealed the attorney fee award only. The Oregon Supreme Court determined that even though the Tax Court also rejected the taxpayer’s request for a reduction in real market value, the legal prerequisite for a discretionary attorney fee award under that statute was met. The Supreme Court also concluded that the Tax Court did not err in applying most of the factors on which it relied in making the fee award. However, the Court concluded that the lower court’s use of one factor was erroneous, thus bringing into question the court’s overall exercise of discretion. Accordingly, the fee award was vacated and the matter remanded for the court to exercise its discretion without considering that factor. View "Ellison v. Dept. of Rev." on Justia Law

by
The issue presented for the Oregon Supreme Court’s review was whether an adult foster care provider claiming unjust enrichment may recover the reasonable value of its services from a defendant who, through fraud, obtained a lower rate from the provider for the services. Plaintiff owned two adult foster homes for the elderly. Plaintiff had contracted with the Oregon Department of Human Services to provide services in a home-like setting to patients who qualified for Medicaid. For those patients, the rates charged would be those set by the department. Isabel Pritchard resided and received care in one of plaintiff’s adult foster homes until her death in November 2008. Because Prichard had been approved to receive Medicaid benefits, plaintiff charged Prichard the rate for Medicaid-qualified patients: approximately $2,000 per month, with approximately $1,200 of that being paid by the department. Plaintiff’s Medicaid rates were substantially below the rates paid by plaintiff’s “private pay” patients. Prichard’s application for Medicaid benefits, as with her other affairs, was handled by her son, Richard Gardner. Gardner had for years been transferring Prichard’s assets, mostly to himself (or using those funds for his personal benefit). Gardner’s misconduct was discovered by another of Prichard’s children: defendant Karen Nichols-Shields, who was appointed the personal representative for Prichard’s estate. In 2009, defendant contacted the police and reported her brother for theft. Ultimately, Gardner pleaded guilty to three counts of criminal mistreatment in the first degree. Gardner’s sentence included an obligation to pay a compensatory fine to Prichard’s estate, to which he complied. After defendant, in her capacity as personal representative, denied plaintiff Larisa’s Home Care, LLC’s claim against Prichard’s estate, plaintiff filed this action, essentially asserting Prichard had been qualified for Medicaid through fraud and that Prichard should have been charged as a private pay patient. The Oregon Supreme Court concluded that, generally, a defendant who obtains discounted services as a result of fraud is unjustly enriched to the extent of the reasonable value of the services. The Court therefore reversed the contrary holding by the Court of Appeals. Because the fraud here occurred in the context of a person being certified as eligible for Medicaid benefits, however, the Court remanded for the Court of Appeals to consider whether certain provisions of Medicaid law may specifically prohibit plaintiff from recovering in this action. View "Larisa's Home Care, LLC v. Nichols-Shields" on Justia Law

by
Petitioners sought review of the ballot title prepared for Referendum Petition (RP) 301 (2018). Among other things, that bill created a new Health System Fund, which would pay the cost of administering a new Oregon Reinsurance Program, provide additional funding for medical assistance and health services to low-income individuals and families under ORS chapter 414, and make other payments. The bill then imposed temporary, two-year assessments on insurance premiums or premium equivalents received by insurers (section 5(2)), managed care organizations (section 9(2)), and the Public Employees’ Benefit Board (section 3(2)), that would be paid into the State Treasury and credited to the fund. Petitioners contended the caption, the “yes” and “no” result statements, and the summary did not comply with requirements set out in ORS 250.035(2). The Oregon Supreme Court reviewed the ballot title to determine whether it substantially complied with those requirements. The Court agreed with some of petitioners’ contentions, but disagreed with others, concluding that each part of the ballot title required modification. View "Parrish v. Rosenblum" on Justia Law

by
Petitioner Michael Haynes sought judicial review of a final order of the Board of Parole and Post-Prison Supervision that denied his petition to change the terms of his life imprisonment to allow for the possibility of release. The Court of Appeals dismissed the case because petitioner’s appointed counsel missed the deadline for filing a petition for judicial review in that court. The Oregon Supreme Court allowed review to consider whether petitioner, who was statutorily entitled to be assisted by counsel on review, should or must be allowed to proceed with his untimely petition for review when the late filing was entirely due to neglect by appointed counsel. Petitioner argued that his statutory right to counsel must be construed as a right to adequate counsel, that he was denied that statutory right when his counsel missed the filing deadline for judicial review, and that this court should address the statutory violation by excusing the untimely filing. Petitioner also contends that a denial of judicial review under these circumstances violated his due process rights. After review, the Oregon Supreme Court concluded petitioner was not entitled to relief: jurisdiction for judicial review of a board order is a creation of statute, and even if petitioner was correct that he had a statutory right to adequate counsel on review which has been denied because of appellate counsel’s late filing, he was not correct that the appropriate remedy was to excuse the jurisdictional requirement of a timely petition. View "Haynes v. Board of Parole" on Justia Law

by
The Portland City Code imposed a $35 tax on each resident of the city who is at least 18 years old, has income of $1,000 or more per year, and does not reside in a household that is at or below federal poverty guidelines. The funds generated by the tax are used to support public art and music education programs. Plaintiff George Wittemyer argued the “arts tax” was a violation of the Oregon Constitution’s prohibition on a “poll or head tax.” The Oregon Supreme Court concluded that a tax that takes into account the income, property, or other resources of taxpayers is not a “poll or head tax” within the meaning of Article IX, section 1a. In this case, the City of Portland arts tax exempted certain residents based on their income and household resources. Thus, the tax does take income into account and, as a result, did not amount to a “poll or head tax.” View "Wittemyer v. City of Portland" on Justia Law

by
Delta Logistics, Inc. was a "for-hire carrier" licensed by the federal government to transport goods interstate. Delta did not own any trucks; rather, it leased trucks from owner-operators, who operated, furnished, and maintained the trucks. The Oregon Employment Department assessed Delta unemployment insurance taxes on the funds that Delta paid the owner-operators, on grounds the owner-operators did not come within the exemption in ORS 657.047(1)(b) because the leases that the owner-operators entered into with Delta were not "leases" within the meaning of the statute: to come within the exemption, the owner must be the only person operating the truck. An administrative law judge (ALJ) agreed and issued a final order upholding the assessment. Delta appealed. The Court of Appeals was not persuaded by the Department's arguments and overturned the ALJ's decision, finding ORS 657.047(2) made clear that the exemption included owners who hire employees to help operate their trucks. Considering the text, context, and legislative history of ORS 657.047(1)(b), the Oregon Supreme Court did not agree with the department that Delta owed unemployment taxes on owner-operators who hired employees to help them operate the motor-vehicles they leased to Delta. The Court of Appeals was affirmed that the final of the ALJ was reversed. View "Delta Logistics, Inc. v. Employment Dept. Tax Section" on Justia Law

by
Petitioner sought review of the Attorney General’s certified ballot title for Initiative Petition 2 (2018) (IP 2). IP 2, if enacted, would change the way that signatures were gathered to put an initiative measure or a referendum on the ballot. Currently, once the Secretary of State determines that an initiative or referendum petition meets certain minimum requirements, the chief petitioners or petition circulators must collect signatures from registered voters on signature sheets prepared in accordance with the Secretary of State’s rules. IP 2 would make two major changes to those requirements: (1) it would require the Secretary of State to adopt rules permitting registered voters to sign initiative and referendum petitions digitally; and (2) it would require the Secretary of State to create and administer a website where registered voters could sign petitions digitally. Petitioner challenged the caption, the "yes" vote result statement, and the summary. The Oregon Supreme Court determined changes were warranted to the ballot title, but not the "yes" vote result statement or the summary. The ballot title was referred back to the Attorney General for modification. View "Unger v. Rosenblum" on Justia Law

by
The issue in this case is whether the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office (county) complied with the requirements of ORS 408.230(2)(c) to “devise and apply methods” of giving veterans and disabled veterans “special consideration” in the hiring process, or as here, when it failed to promote a disabled veteran. The Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) concluded that the county did fail to comply with the statute, as well as administrative rules that implement it. BOLI ordered the county to comply with the law, to train its staff, and to pay the disabled veteran $50,000 in damages for his emotional distress. The county appealed, but the Oregon Supreme Court concluded BOLI correctly construed ORS 408.230(2)(c) and that, given the unchallenged findings in the agency’s final order, there was no basis for the county’s contention that BOLI erred in finding a violation of that statute. With regard to BOLI’s authority to award damages for emotional distress, the county failed to preserve that argument. The Court therefore affirmed the Court of Appeals and the final order of BOLI. View "Multnomah County Sheriff's Office v. Edwards" on Justia Law

by
The issue in this case is whether the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office (county) complied with the requirements of ORS 408.230(2)(c) to “devise and apply methods” of giving veterans and disabled veterans “special consideration” in the hiring process, or as here, when it failed to promote a disabled veteran. The Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) concluded that the county did fail to comply with the statute, as well as administrative rules that implement it. BOLI ordered the county to comply with the law, to train its staff, and to pay the disabled veteran $50,000 in damages for his emotional distress. The county appealed, but the Oregon Supreme Court concluded BOLI correctly construed ORS 408.230(2)(c) and that, given the unchallenged findings in the agency’s final order, there was no basis for the county’s contention that BOLI erred in finding a violation of that statute. With regard to BOLI’s authority to award damages for emotional distress, the county failed to preserve that argument. The Court therefore affirmed the Court of Appeals and the final order of BOLI. View "Multnomah County Sheriff's Office v. Edwards" on Justia Law

by
Out-of-state architects engaged in the illegal practice of architecture by holding themselves out as being licensed in Oregon. The Oregon Board of Architect Examiners (board) petitioned for certiorari review of the Court of Appeals decision to reverse in part the board’s determination that respondents (the Washington firm Twist Architecture & Design, Inc., and its principals, Callison and Hansen), engaged in the unlawful practice of architecture and unlawfully represented themselves as architects. The board argued respondents, who were not licensed to practice architecture in Oregon, engaged in the “practice of architecture” when they prepared master plans depicting the size, shape, and placement of buildings on specific properties in conformance with applicable laws and regulations for a client that was contemplating the construction of commercial projects. The board further argued that respondents’ use of the term “architecture” in the logo on those master plans and the phrase “Licensed in the State of Oregon (pending)” on their website violated the law prohibiting unlicensed individuals from representing themselves as architects or indicating that they were practicing architecture. The Oregon Supreme Court agreed with the board, reversed the Court of Appeals, and affirmed the board's order. View "Twist Architecture v. Board of Architect Examiners" on Justia Law