Justia Government & Administrative Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Wyoming Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission approving only one out of two applications filed by Exaro Energy III, LLC seeking the approval of adjacent drilling and spacing units (DSUs) in the Jonah Field, holding that the Commission's denial of Exaro's other application was arbitrary and capricious. At a contested case hearing the parties agreed that the evidence presented would apply to both applications. At the hearing's conclusion, the Commission found as to both applications that Exam had met its burden of proof and provided evidence satisfying the statutory requirements for the establishment of a DSU. However, the Commission approved one application and denied the other. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding (1) substantial evidence supported the Commission's finding that Exaro's evidence satisfied the statutory requirements for establishment of a DSU in both applications; and (2) the Commission's decision to grant only one of the applications was arbitrary and capricious. View "Exaro Energy III, LLC v. Wyoming Oil & Gas Conservation Commission" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court affirming the decision of the Board of Coroner Standards refusing to investigate the Teton County Coroner's alleged misconduct during a coroner's inquest, holding that the Board does not have the authority to review a complaint that a coroner failed to comply with the Board's standards dealing with the investigation of coroner cases. In a related action, the Supreme Court affirmed the district court's dismissal of an action seeking to set aside the coroner's inquest verdict in In re Birkholz, 434 P.3d 1102 (Wyo. 2019). While that action was pending, Plaintiffs requested that the Board investigate the coroner's alleged misconduct. The Board refused to investigate the inquest, concluding that it did not have the statutory authority to do so. The district court affirmed the Board's refusal to investigate. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the legislature did not authorize the Board to investigate a coroner's conduct during an inquest. View "Hayse v. Wyoming Board of Coroner Standards" on Justia Law

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In these appeals from the district court's order affirming in part and reversing and remanding in part the decision of the Wyoming Board of Medicine suspending Dr. Rebecca Painter's physician's license the Supreme Court dismissed the appeals for want of jurisdiction holding that the district court's order was not an appealable order under Wyo. R. App. P. 1.05. For violations of various provisions of the Medical Practice Act, Wyo. Stat. Ann. 33-26-101 through 703, the Board suspended Dr. Painter's physician's license for a minimum of five years, fined her $15,000, and ordered her to pay one-half of the costs of the proceedings. The district court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding that there was insufficient evidence that Dr. Painter violated some of the provisions for which her license was suspended. The court also reversed and remanded the Board's decision assessing Dr. Painter one-half of the costs of the proceedings. Dr. Painter appealed, and the Board filed a cross-appeal. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeals, holding that the district court's order was not a final appealable order. View "McGill v. Painter" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Wyoming Board of Equalization affirming the determination of the Department of Revenue that Delcon Partners, LLC's purchase of a portion of Delcon, Inc's tangible and intangible assets was not exempt from sales tax, holding that the Department correctly concluded that the transaction was not excluded from the definition of "sale" under Wyo. Stat. Ann. 39-15-101(a)(vii)(N) and was subject to sales tax. Delcon Partners purchased twenty-eight percent of Delcon, Inc's assets. The Department determined that the transaction was not exempt from sales tax because Delcon Partners did not purchase at least eighty percent of the total value of the assets, including cash and accounts receivable. The Board affirmed. Delcon appealed, arguing that section 39-15-101(a)(vii)(N) should be interpreted to require only a purchase of eighty percent of a seller's tangible personal property rather than eighty percent of its total Wyoming assets. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the statute plainly conditions exclusion from the definition of "sale" on the purchase of at least eighty percent of the value of all of a business entity's assets located in Wyoming, which did not happen in this case. View "Delcon Partners LLC v. Wyoming Department of Revenue" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court affirming the decision of the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) upholding the denial of Appellant's application to the Department of Workforce Services, Workers' Compensation Division for permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits, holding that the OAH's decision was not contrary to the overwhelming weight of the evidence. After Appellant injured his back the Division awarded him temporary benefits. When several years had passed without relief from his pain, Appellant appleid for PPD benefits. The Division denied Appellant's application. The OAH upheld the Division's denial of PPD benefits, concluding that Appellant failed to prove his work injury was the cause of his inability to return to employment and failed to prove that he timely filed his PPD application. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the OAH correctly calculated the limitations period under Wyo. Stat. Ann. 27-14-405(h)(ii); and (2) there was substantial evidence to support the OAH's conclusion that Appellant failed to prove that his injury was the cause of his inability to return to work. View "Camacho v. State, ex rel. Department of Workforce Services, Workers' Compensation Division" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the district court affirming the order of the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) upholding the Department of Workforce Services, Workers' Compensation Division's (Division) final determination regarding compensability, holding that the OAH erred in its determination that equitable estoppel did not bar the Division from asserting the statute of limitations as a defense. The OAH affirmed the final determination of the Division denying benefits to Appellant on the grounds that Appellant did not file a claim for benefits within the one-year statute of limitations set forth in Wyo. Stat. 27-14-503(a). The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the Division was estopped from asserting the statute of limitations as a defense, and therefore, the OAH's conclusion that section 27-14-503(a) barred Appellant's claim was not in accordance with law. View "Sweetalla v. State ex rev. Department of Workforce Services, Workers' Compensation Division" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) denying Appellant's request for permanent partial disability benefits, holding that the OAH's decision was supported by substantial evidence and was not arbitrary or capricious. In denying Appellant permanent partial disability benefits the hearing examiner determined that Appellant had not established that because of his injury he was unable to return to employment at a wage of at least ninety-five percent of his monthly earnings at the time of his injury. On appeal, Appellant claimed that the hearing examiner should have found dispositive the undisputed fact that Appellant had applied for over fifty positions and still had no job. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the hearing examiner's decision was not contrary to the overwhelming weight of the evidence, and the district court did not err in affirming the hearing examiner's conclusion. View "Bollinger v. State, ex rel. Department of Workforce Services, Workers' Compensation Division" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court dismissing Appellant's pro se complaint filed under the Declaratory Judgment Act alleging that the Wyoming Department of Corrections (WDOC) violated certain policies and procedures during disciplinary proceedings brought against him, holding that Appellant was not entitled to relief. Specifically, the Court held (1) Appellant did not have standing to seek a general declaration that the WDOC must abide by its own rules and regulations, and the district court properly considered standing in dismissing Appellant's complaint even though the WDOC did not raise the standing issue in its motion to dismiss; and (2) collateral estoppel and res judicata barred Appellant's claims that procedural violations occurred during his disciplinary proceedings. View "Bird v. Lampert" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed this case in which Appellant sought judicial review of the administrative denial of his request for preauthorization for the purchase of several unique items to treat his work-related injury, holding that this Court lacked jurisdiction because Appellant filed his petition for review in a district court that did not have jurisdiction. The Wyoming Workers' Compensation Division denied Appellant's requests, and the Office of Administrative Hearings upheld the Division's determinations. Appellant filed a petition for review in the district court of the county where he was injured. The district court denied the Division's motion to dismiss and affirmed the OAH decision on the merits. The dismissed the action and vacated the district court's order, holding that the statute that provides for judicial review of the OAH decision, Wyo. Stat. Ann. 16-3-114(a), placed jurisdiction in the district court of the county where the administrative action was taken or the district court of the county where Appellant resided. View "McCallister v. State, ex rel. Department of Workforce Services, Workers' Compensation Division" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) to uphold the suspension of Appellant’s driver’s license, holding that collateral estoppel did not bar the OAH from considering Appellants’ blood alcohol content (BAC) test results in the license suspension proceeding. In the companion criminal case, the municipal court dismissed Appellant’s criminal charges without prejudice without referring to the prosecution’s argument that a gap in the chain of custody of Appellant’s blood samples rendered the BAC test results inadmissible. On appeal from the OAH proceedings, Appellant argued that the OAH was collaterally estopped from considering the BAC test results in the license suspension proceeding. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that all four collateral estoppel requirements were not met under the circumstances. View "Casiano v. State ex rel. Wyoming Department of Transportation" on Justia Law