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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court determining that Plaintiff, Walgreen Eastern Company, Inc., had established aggrievement under Conn. Gen. Stat. 12-117a by showing that the valuation of Plaintiff’s property by Defendant, the Town of West Hartford, was excessive. The Court further affirmed the trial court’s judgment determining the true and actual value of the subject property and concluding that the Town’s valuation of the subject property was not manifestly excessive under Conn. Gen. Stat. 12-119. After the Board of Assessment Appeals (Board) upheld the town assessor’s valuation, Plaintiff appealed to the superior court, which (1) found Plaintiff satisfied its burden of proving aggrievement; and (2) rendered judgment in favor of Plaintiff on its section 12-117a count and in favor of the Town on Plaintiff’s section 12-119 count. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the relief awarded by the trial court was sufficient because the court properly determined the true and actual value of Plaintiff’s property; and (2) the trial court properly determined that Plaintiff did not meet its burden to establish a claim under section 12-119. View "Walgreen Eastern Co. v. Town of West Hartford" on Justia Law

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In 2007, Chavez, then 21, was diagnosed with a brain tumor and underwent five surgeries. Chavez experienced depression and anxiety. She struggled to maintain concentration to complete simple household tasks and suffered from migraine headaches, back pain (caused by degenerative disc disease), and numbness in her feet and hands. Chavez had no prior work experience. In 2010 Chavez applied for Social Security supplemental security income. Chavez could perform only simple, routine tasks with significant restrictions on how much she could lift. The vocational expert enlisted by the agency to estimate the number of jobs suitable for Chavez testified that for one particular job there were either 800 or 108,000 existing positions but preferred the larger estimate. The administrative law judge agreed and denied Chavez’s claim. The district court affirmed. The Seventh Circuit vacated. The decision was not supported by substantial evidence; the ALJ failed to ensure that the vocational expert’s job estimates were reliable. The vocational expert offered no explanation for why his estimates (or his method) were reliable, instead reaching a conclusion by determining that the estimates yielded by an alternative method seemed too low. By affording such broad deference to the vocational expert’s chosen estimates, the ALJ relieved the agency of its evidentiary burden at the final step of the analysis, impermissibly shifting the burden to Chavez. View "Chavez v. Berryhill" on Justia Law

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Cass County Social Services ("Cass County") appealed a juvenile court order denying termination of parental rights. B.H., born in June 2016, was the child of S.H. (mother) and C.H. (father). In July 2016, the juvenile court concluded that B.H. was a deprived child; had been subjected to aggravated circumstances due to prenatal exposure to methamphetamine; and ordered that B.H. be removed from the custody of the parents for a period of one year. The court also ordered that a treatment plan be developed in an effort to reunite B.H. with his parents. B.H. was returned to the parental home in October 2016. In March 2017, the mother and father tested positive for methamphetamine. B.H. remained in the home because the father intended to vacate the home and the mother committed to re-engage in treatment services. The father, who had pressured the mother to use drugs prior to the March test, left the home, but soon returned. In October 2017, both mother and child tested positive for methamphetamine. The father stated he could not be given a hair follicle test for methamphetamine because he had removed all his hair. B.H. was removed from the home, and Cass County petitioned for termination of both parents' parental rights. After a trial, the juvenile court denied termination of parental rights because it could not find by clear and convincing evidence that the conditions and causes of the deprivation were likely to continue or would not be remedied. Cass County argues that because the juvenile court found aggravated circumstances, it erred by denying termination of parental rights. The North Dakota Supreme Court determined the juvenile could did not abuse its discretion by denying the petition for termination of parental rights, and accordingly, affirmed the order. View "Interest of B.H." on Justia Law

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D.L., mother of G.L., appeals from the juvenile court's order and judgment to continue guardianship of G.L. The mother argues the juvenile court erred in its determination of exceptional circumstances for continuing the guardianship. In 2015, the State filed a petition alleging G.L. (born in 2009) and her sister E.L. (born in 2001) were deprived. The parents, D.L. and T.S. (father), stipulated to a guardianship, placing both girls in the care of the eldest daughter, B.Y. The juvenile court entered an order appointing the eldest daughter as guardian and found both children deprived under N.D.C.C. 27-20-02(8)(a). The guardianship was to remain in place until the children turned eighteen. In late 2016, the mother wrote a letter to the juvenile court asking for a review of the guardianship. Two weeks later the mother wrote another letter stating the guardianship continued to be in G.L.'s best interests. Shortly after, the mother again changed her mind and asked for a review hearing. The juvenile court treated the communications as a motion to terminate the guardianship and on July 26-27 and August 24, 2017 held a hearing. At the start of the hearing the mother abandoned her request to review her middle daughter's guardianship. The juvenile court found the mother demonstrated a change in circumstances by stabilizing her living situation, obtaining full-time employment, effectively dealing with addiction, and improving her mental and emotional health. The juvenile court found the impediments creating the deprivation had been removed. The juvenile court then shifted the burden of proof to the guardian to establish by preponderance of the evidence that continuation of the guardianship remains in the best interest of the child. The juvenile court continued the guardianship, ordered the guardian's husband added as co-guardian, and gave the guardian authority to establish a visitation schedule with input from G.L.'s therapist and guardian ad litem. The mother appealed the order and judgment. The North Dakota Supreme Court reversed and remanded, finding the juvenile court failed to find exceptional circumstances and thus misapplied the law. The juvenile court also impermissibly delegated visitation scheduling responsibilities. View "Interest of G.L." on Justia Law

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The tax court correctly dismissed the appeals brought by several cooperatives (the Cooperatives) challenging the valuation orders of the Commissioner of Revenue for the 2014, 2015, and 2016 tax years because the appeals were not filed within the sixty-day deadline for appeals from orders of the Commissioner. On appeal, the Cooperatives argued that the two appeal paths provided by Minn. Stat. 273.372(2) effectively establish the single deadline of April 30 of the year in which the tax becomes payable. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding (1) the Cooperatives’ view that a single filing deadline governs all appeals under section 273.372 fails because the plain language of that statute establishes two different filing deadlines, depending on the appeal path chosen; and (2) the Cooperatives’ notices of appeal were governed only by a sixty-day deadline, and therefore, the tax court properly dismissed the appeals as untimely. View "Lake Country Power Cooperative v. Commissioner of Revenue" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Workers’ Compensation Court of Appeals (WCCA) that the compensation judge failed fully to consider the extent to which each of Respondent’s employers sought to shift liability to the other employer and that it was error to deny Respondent’s motion for fees under Minn. Stat. 176.191(1). In 2015, Respondent filed a workers’ compensation claim for work-related aggravations to a low-back condition resulting from a work-related injury in 2009. Between the 2009 injury and later aggravations sustained in 2014 and 2015, Respondent’s employer and its insurer changed. When Respondent sought benefits for later aggravations sustained in 2014 and 2015, her 2009-employer and her new employer disputed whether the aggravations were a continuation of the 2009 injury or subsequent injuries for which the new employer and its insurer were liable. The compensation judge held the new employer liable for reasonable benefits for the later injuries but denied Respondent’s claim for fees under section 176.191(1). The WCCA reversed the denial of the motion for fees. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the efforts by each employer to shift responsibility to the other employer greatly increased the burden on Respondent’s counsel to provide effective representation, and therefore, Respondent was entitled to receive reasonable attorney fees under the statute. View "Hufnagel v. Deer River Health Care Center" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that the forfeiture-of-office provision of the Minnesota Open Meeting Law, under which pubic officials who violate the Open Meeting Law may be removed from office, requires three separate, serial adjudications, other than three concurrently filed actions alleging separate, intentional Open Meeting Law violations. Under Minn. Stat. 13D.06(3), the forfeiture-of-office provision of the Open Meeting Law, Minn. Stat. 13D.01-.07, if public officials are found to have intentionally violated the statute “in three or more actions” they may be removed from office. Residents of the City of Victoria successfully proved that certain officials, collectively, committed thirty-eight Open Meeting Law provisions. These violations were found after a single trial resulting from consolidation of five separate lawsuits filed by the residents. The district court declined to remove the officials from office, concluding that three separate adjudications were required. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the forfeiture-of-office provision is not triggered unless three separate, sequential adjudications result in findings of three separate, unrelated Open Meeting Law violations. View "Funk v. O’Connor" on Justia Law

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The DEA bars hospitals from hiring, as an employee with “access to controlled substances,” any doctor who “for cause” has surrendered his registration to handle those substances. The DEA enforced this regulation against Doctors McDonald and Woods, who had voluntarily surrendered their registrations while in addiction treatment. They later regained full registrations. The doctors sued to enjoin the DEA from enforcing the regulation against them in the future, arguing that it no longer applied to them once their registrations were restored. The parties settled. Their agreement provides that “[t]he DEA no longer interprets 21 C.F.R. 1301.76(a) as requiring . . . potential employers of doctors with unrestricted DEA registrations to seek waivers.” The Sixth Circuit denied the government’s motion to keep the agreement under seal, noting “a strong presumption in favor of openness as to court records.” The government did not identify information too sensitive to remain public. Public interest is particularly strong where the information pertains to an agency’s interpretation of a regulation. Other doctors would no doubt be interested. View "Woods v. United States Drug Enforcement Administration" on Justia Law

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Three disabled individuals who formerly received cash general assistance benefits from the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare filed a complaint alleging that the manner in which the Pennsylvania General Assembly enacted Act 80 of 2012, a piece of legislation which, inter alia, made sweeping changes to the administration of the state's human services programs, violated Article III, Sections 1, 3 and 4 of the Pennsylvania Constitution. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court determined the Act was in violation of Section 4. The provisions of H.B 1261, P.N. 1385 were entirely removed from the bill by the Senate, inasmuch as they had been enacted by another piece of legislation, Act 22 of 2011. Since the original provisions were gone when the new provisions were added by the Senate, it was factually and legally impossible for the new provisions to work together with the deleted provisions to accomplish a single purpose. The Court held the amendments "to such enfeebled legislation" were not germane as a matter of law. Consequently, the Senate amendments were not germane to the provisions of H.B. 1261, P.N. 1385, and, accordingly, the three times that H.B. 1261, P.N. 1385 was passed by the House in 2011 could not count towards the requirements of Article III, Section 4. View "Washington, et al. v. Dept. of Pub. Welfare" on Justia Law

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The Pennsylvania Supreme Court allowed this appeal to address the City of Philadelphia's so-called "soda tax." In June 2016, City Council enacted the challenged ordinance, which imposed a tax regarding specified categories of drinks sold, or intended to be sold, in the municipal limits. Appellants -- a group of consumers, retailers, distributors, producers, and trade associations -- filed suit against the City and the Commissioner of the Philadelphia Department of Revenue, in the court of common pleas, challenging the legality and constitutionality of the tax and seeking declaratory and injunctive relief. The common pleas court differentiated the soda tax as a “non-retail, distribution level tax” and that the tax did not apply to the same transaction or subject as the state sales tax, thus, no violation of the "Sterling Act," Act of August 5, 1932, Ex. Sess., P.L. 45 (as amended 53 P.S. sections 15971–15973). A divided, en banc panel of the Commonwealth Court affirmed, the majority reasoning that in determining whether a tax was duplicative, the focus is upon the incidence of the tax; such incidence is ultimately determined according to the substantive text of the enabling legislation; and the concept of legal incidence does not concern post-tax economic actions of private actors. Because the City’s beverage tax and the state sales and use tax are imposed on different, albeit related, transactions and measured on distinct terms, the majority likewise concluded that the Sterling Act was not offended. The Supreme Court affirmed, finding that the Sterling Act conferred upon the City "a broad taxing power subject to preemption," while clarifying that “any and all subjects” are available for local taxation which the Commonwealth could, but does not presently, tax. The Commonwealth could, but did not, tax the distributor/dealer-level transactions or subjects targeted by the soda tax. "Moreover, the legal incidences of the Philadelphia tax and the Commonwealth’s sales and use tax are different and, accordingly, Sterling Act preemption does not apply." View "Williams v. City of Philadelphia" on Justia Law