Justia Government & Administrative Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Oregon Supreme Court
Dept. of Human Services v. J. S.
Two juvenile dependency cases raised an issue of the scope of a juvenile court’s temporary emergency jurisdiction under ORS 109.751, which was part of Oregon’s enactment of the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA). Parents were residents of Washington who were living temporarily at a motel in Oregon. The juvenile court asserted temporary emergency jurisdiction over their 15-month-old son after police, investigating the death of his infant brother, found him living in squalid and dangerous conditions in the motel room. The court later entered several dependency judgments concerning that child as well as another child later born to Parents in Washington. Parents challenged the juvenile court’s authority under ORS 109.751 or any other provision of the UCCJEA to issue dependency judgments making their two children wards of the court in Oregon. On Parents’ appeals, the Court of Appeals affirmed the juvenile court, holding that the juvenile court had properly exercised temporary emergency jurisdiction as to both children under ORS 109.751 and did not exceed its temporary emergency jurisdiction when it issued dependency judgments as to the children. Only mother filed a petition for review, which the Oregon Supreme Court allowed. After review, the Supreme Court affirmed the juvenile court’s denial of mother’s motions to dismiss the dependency petitions, because the juvenile court had temporary emergency jurisdiction under the UCCJEA to enter dependency judgments as to the children. However, the juvenile court exceeded the scope of its temporary emergency jurisdiction, and therefore we vacate certain parts of the dependency judgments. As a result, the appellate court was affirmed in part and reversed in part. View "Dept. of Human Services v. J. S." on Justia Law
Sherman v. Dept. of Human Services
Plaintiff Janae Sherman brought child abuse claims against the Oregon Department of Human Services (defendant), alleging that it had negligently failed to protect her from abuse while she was in foster care. Defendant moved to dismiss, claiming it was immune from liability under a provision of the Oregon Tort Claims Act, ORS 30.265(6)(d). Defendant argued that plaintiff’s claims were barred by the provisions of ORS 12.115, a statute of ultimate repose for negligent injury claims. The trial court agreed with defendant, rejecting plaintiff’s argument that ORS 12.117, and not ORS 12.115, applied to child abuse claims and did not bar plaintiff’s claims. The Court of Appeals reversed. The Oregon Supreme Court concluded ORS 12.117 applied to child abuse claims and that ORS 30.265(6)(d) did not provide defendant with immunity. View "Sherman v. Dept. of Human Services" on Justia Law
Level 3 Communications, LLC v. Dept. of Rev.
Taxpayer Level 3 Communications, LLC (Level 3) challenged the Oregon Tax Court’s determination of the real market value of its tangible and intangible property for the 2014-15, 2015-16, and 2016-17 tax years. Level 3 argued that the Tax Court held that the central assessment statutory scheme permitted taxation of the entire enterprise value of the company, contrary to the wording of applicable statutes that permit taxation only of a centrally assessed corporation’s property. According to Level 3, the Tax Court applied that erroneous holding to incorrectly accept the Department of Revenue’s (the department’s) valuations of Level 3’s property for the relevant tax years. The Oregon Supreme Court concluded Level 3 misconstrued the Tax Court’s decision, and the Tax Court did not err by accepting the department’s valuations. Accordingly, the Tax Court’s judgment was affirmed. View "Level 3 Communications, LLC v. Dept. of Rev." on Justia Law
Simi v. LTI Inc. – Lynden Inc.
In a workers’ compensation case, the issue presented for the Oregon Supreme Court's review centered on the scope of an employer’s obligation under ORS 656.262(7)(c) to reopen a closed claim for processing if a “condition is found compensable after claim closure.” The closed claim at issue here was claimant Randy Simi's accepted right rotator cuff tear, and the conditions giving rise to the dispute were supraspinatus and infraspinatus tendon tears, which claimant asked employer to accept as “new or omitted” conditions. Employer issued a denial specifying that the conditions were not compensable, but, without withdrawing the denial, employer later took the position that the tendon tears were “encompassed” within the originally accepted rotator cuff tear. That change of position caused an administrative law judge (ALJ) to determine that the tendon conditions were compensable and to set aside employer’s denial. According to claimant, that ALJ order triggered employer’s obligation under ORS 656.262(7)(c) to reopen the claim. Employer contended, however, that the legislature did not require reopening if the compensable condition at issue was “encompassed within” the already-accepted conditions, even if the employer also had denied that the condition was compensable. A majority of the Workers’ Compensation Board and a majority of the Court of Appeals panel agreed with employer, and the Supreme Court allowed review to consider this disputed question of statutory interpretation. Based on its examination of the statutory text and context, the Supreme Court concluded the legislature intended employers to reopen compensable claims for processing when a compensability denial was set aside after claim closure, including under the circumstances of this case. Accordingly, the Court of Appeals' decision was reversed. View "Simi v. LTI Inc. - Lynden Inc." on Justia Law
Friends of Columbia Gorge v. Energy Fac. Siting Coun.
In January 2020, the Energy Facility Siting Council adopted permanent rules addressing the process for amending site certificates and other procedural aspects of the council’s work. Petitioners challenged three of the council’s new rules on two grounds, contending the rules exceeded the council’s statutory authority. According to petitioners, two of the rules improperly limited party participation in contested case proceedings, and the third rule improperly authorized the expansion of site certificate boundaries without a site certificate amendment. The council disputed those arguments. The Oregon Supreme Court concurred with petitioners’ arguments and declared the three rules at issue invalid. View "Friends of Columbia Gorge v. Energy Fac. Siting Coun." on Justia Law
De Young v. Brown
Plaintiff James De Young was a city councilor and resident of the City of Damascus, Oregon. Defendants were Kate Brown, in her official capacity as Governor, and the State of Oregon. In De Young I, the Court of Appeals considered the validity of an effort to disincorporate the City of Damascus: in a 2013 election, the residents of the city had voted on a referral from the city council to disincorporate the city. Although a majority of those participating in the election voted in favor of disincorporating, the number fell short of the absolute majority for disincorporation required by law. In 2015, the Oregon legislature passed House Bill (HB) 3085, which referred to the decision whether to disincorporate, and specifically provided that a majority of those voting, rather than an absolute majority of the city’s electors, would be sufficient to disincorporate. Prior to the 2016 election, plaintiff sought to enjoin the scheduled disincorporation vote, alleging HB 3085 violated the city charter, state statutes, and the Oregon Constitution. The trial court denied plaintiff’s request to enjoin the election, and the city residents voted to disincorporate. Following the election, the city paid its debts, transferred its assets to Clackamas County, surrendered its charter, terminated or transferred its employees, and, essentially, ceased to exist. Plaintiff continued his lawsuit, seeking a declaration that the vote had violated various statutory and constitutional requirements and, therefore, the city had not been validly disincorporated. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the State, declaring “Measure 93” valid. The Court of Appeals ultimately agreed with plaintiff on his statutory argument, holding that ORS 221.610 and ORS 221.621 (2013) provided the only means by which a city could disincorporate and that, because Measure 93 had not complied with those statutes, it was invalid. Shortly after the Court of Appeals decision was issued, the legislature passed Senate Bill (SB) 226 (2019) “to cure any defect in the procedures, and to ratify the results” of the 2016 disincorporation vote. Following the Court of Appeals’ decision in De Young I but prior to the issuance of the Oregon Supreme Court’s decision in City of Damascus, plaintiff petitioned for an award of attorney fees and costs in De Young I. Applying the “substantial benefit” theory, the Court of Appeals allowed plaintiff’s petition for attorney fees, and remanded for a determination of fees and costs incurred in the circuit court. The State appealed. The Oregon Supreme Court concluded the Court of Appeals did not err in awarding plaintiff fees under the substantial benefit theory. View "De Young v. Brown" on Justia Law
Bert Brundige, LLC v. Dept. of Rev.
At Tax Court, the parties disagreed about what types of equipment fall within the definition of "logging equipment" exempt from ad valorem property taxation under ORS 307.27. Specifically, they disagreed about what types of equipment used for logging road work - logging road construction, maintenance, reconstruction, improvement, closure, or obliteration - fell within the definition. Plaintiff Bert Brundige, LLC argued that all types of equipment used for logging road work fell within the definition. Defendant, the Oregon Department of Revenue, argued that excavators were the only type of equipment used for logging road work that fell within the definition. The Tax Court agreed with defendant and entered a judgment in its favor. Plaintiff appealed. Finding no reversible error, the Oregon Supreme Court affirmed. View "Bert Brundige, LLC v. Dept. of Rev." on Justia Law
Oregon ex rel Kotek v. Fagan
The Speaker of the Oregon House of Representatives, and the President of the Oregon State Senate, on behalf of the Oregon Legislative Assembly, informed the Oregon Supreme Court that the federal government would not meet its statutory deadline to produce federal decennial census data and, therefore, that neither the Legislative Assembly nor the Oregon Secretary of State (Secretary) would be able to meet the deadlines for decennial reapportionment of state legislative districts set out in Article IV, section 6, of the Oregon Constitution. Relators asked the Supreme Court to exercise its authority under Article VII (Amended), section 2, of the Oregon Constitution and issue a writ of mandamus requiring the Secretary to fulfill her constitutionally specified duties, and to do so on dates ordered by the court. Relators served their petition for writ of mandamus on the Secretary, and she appeared in opposition. The Court elected to exercise that authority to compel compliance with Article IV, section 6, according to a revised schedule set out in an appendix to its opinion in this case. The Court thus issued a peremptory writ to direct the Secretary to abide by that schedule. View "Oregon ex rel Kotek v. Fagan" on Justia Law
Gould v. Deschutes County
Relating to the Oregon Supreme Court's holding in Oregon v. Chapman, 367 Or 388 (2020), petitioner similarly contended that the Court of Appeals wrongly dismissed her petition for judicial review of an order of the Land Use Board of Appeals as untimely when she had mailed the petition by ordinary first-class mail on the last day of the appeals period. Petitioner was a party to a proceeding before the Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA). LUBA delivered its final order in the matter on June 21, 2019, and petitioner sought to challenge it. Under ORS 197.850(3)(a), petitioner could obtain judicial review of the final order by filing a petition in the Court of Appeals “within 21 days following the date the board delivered or mailed the order upon which the petition is based.” Twenty- one days from June 21, 2019, was July 12, 2019, a Friday. Although the lawyer had intended that the petitions be sent by certified mail, return receipt requested, as stated in the certificate of filing and service that was enclosed, the legal assistant instead sent them by first-class mail and purchased a certificate of mailing for each one. The petition for judicial review was delivered to the Appellate Court Administrator on Monday, July 15, the date estimated on the USPS receipt. Shortly thereafter, the Appellate Commissioner issued an order dismissing the petition as untimely, explaining that it had been received by the court on July 15, 2019 - more than 21 days from the date that the LUBA order had been served. Applying the rule established in Chapman, the Supreme Court concluded ORS 19.260(1)(a)(B) applied here, and that as a consequence, petitioner’s petition for judicial review was timely filed and should not have been dismissed. View "Gould v. Deschutes County" on Justia Law
Friends of Columbia Gorge v. Energy Fac. Siting Coun.
The appeal before the Oregon Supreme Court in this case was an attorney fee dispute arising out of an administrative rules challenge. Petitioners successfully challenged rules adopted by the Energy Facility Siting Council that amended the process for reviewing requests for amendment (RFAs) to site certificates. Petitioners sought $299,325.64 in attorney fees under ORS 183.497. The council asked the Supreme Court the court to award no fees. After review, the Supreme Court awarded petitioners $31,633 in attorney fees. "In the end, the most relevant statutory factor here in resolving the parties’ dispute is '[t]he time and labor required in the proceeding, the novelty and difficulty of the questions involved in the proceeding and the skill needed to properly perform the legal services.' . . . it does require attorney time and effort to defeat even meritless arguments, like the council’s argument on this issue. Having carefully reviewed petitioners’ filing, and based on other fee petitions recently filed in this court and our experience with appellate briefing and argument as judges and lawyers, we conclude that it is reasonable to compensate petitioners for 70 hours of work for briefing the claim on judicial review and preparing a fee petition for work on that claim." View "Friends of Columbia Gorge v. Energy Fac. Siting Coun." on Justia Law