Articles Posted in Government & Administrative Law

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Initiative Petition (IP) 28, if enacted, would modify Article I, section 8, of the Oregon Constitution to permit either a legislative body or the people exercising their initiative power to regulate campaign contributions and expenditures. In this case’s first trip to the Oregon Supreme Court, the ballot title for IP 28 the Attorney General for modification. The Attorney General filed a modified ballot title, and the two sets of petitioners who challenged the original ballot title challenged the modified title. Among other things, petitioners challenged the ballot title’s unqualified use of the word “regulate.” They noted, and we agreed, that “the word ‘regulate,’ when used in the context of regulating expressive activity, can encompass a range of different types of regulations.” Petitioners objected to the modified ballot title, arguing among other things that it failed to comply with the Supreme Court’s opinion because it did not signal that “regulate” was undefined. The Supreme Court agreed that the changes the Attorney General made in the caption and “yes” result statement were not sufficient. “We appreciate the difficulty that the Attorney General faces in trying to accurately describe the nuances of complex measures in a limited amount of words. However, we reiterate what we previously said: the caption and the ‘yes’ result statement should state that the word regulate is undefined.” The modified ballot title was referred to the Attorney General for modification. View "Markley/Lutz v. Rosenblum" on Justia Law

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Petitioner ACN Opportunity, LLC (ACN) sold satellite television, telephone, internet, and home security services, as well as some goods related to those services, through a network of direct-to-consumer sellers that it calls “independent business owners” (IBOs). The Employment Department determined that ACN was an employer and thus was required to pay unemployment insurance tax on earnings that ACN paid to the IBOs for their sales work. An administrative law judge (ALJ) affirmed that determination, concluding that the IBOs did not fall within the exemption from employment under ORS 657.087(2) and were not independent contractors under ORS 670.600. ACN appealed the department’s final order, and the Court of Appeals affirmed. The Oregon Supreme Court accepted review of this case primarily to address the statutory interpretation questions that this case presented. First, the Court concluded the IBOs did not qualify as independent contractors, because ACN failed to establish that the IBOs were customarily engaged in an independently established business. In reaching that conclusion, (1) the Court construed “maintains a business location” in ORS 670.600(3)(a) as the Court of Appeals did, and (2) the Supreme Court agreed with the Court of Appeals that the IBOs lacked the required authority to hire others to provide services, as provided in ORS 670.600(3)(e). Finally, the Supreme Court rejected ACN’s reading of the in-home sales exemption from employment in ORS 657.087(2) and concluded the IBOs do not fall within that exemption. As a result, the Court of Appeals’ decision and the final order of the ALJ were affirmed. View "ACN Opportunity, LLC v. Employment Dept." on Justia Law

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Two sets of petitioners challenged the Oregon Attorney General’s certified ballot title for Initiative Petition 33 (2018) (IP 33). If adopted, IP 33 would require that “government employee unions” annually report certain information to the Secretary of State, primarily how dues would be spent on union administration. Chief petitioners Schworak and Mitchell challenged the summary, while petitioners Lutz and Schwartz challenged all parts of the certified ballot title. After reviewing the petitioners’ arguments, the Oregon Supreme Court concluded that the proposed caption, the “no” result statement, and the summary did not substantially comply and must be modified. The “yes” result statement did substantially comply and did not require modification. View "Lutzv. Rosenblum" on Justia Law

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The Oregon Commission on Judicial Fitness and Disability filed a formal complaint alleging 13 misconduct counts against respondent, the Honorable Vance Day, involving Oregon Code of Judicial Conduct Rule 2.1; Rule 2.2; Rule 3.3(B); Rule 3.7(B); courteous to litigants); and Article VII (Amended), sections 8(1)(b), (c), and (e), of the Oregon Constitution. After conducting a hearing, the commission filed a recommendation with the Oregon Supreme Court, to the effect that clear and convincing evidence supported a conclusion that respondent had violated multiple rules with respect to eight of the counts, including violations not alleged in the complaint. The commission further recommended that respondent be removed from office. Respondent argued the Supreme Court should have dismissed all or several counts for procedural reasons; that the commission did not sufficiently prove the alleged misconduct; and, in any event, that the only appropriate sanction was a censure. After review, the Oregon Court dismissed two of the eight counts of the complaint that were at issue; the Court declined to consider any violation that the Commission did not originally allege in its complaint. The Supreme Court concluded the Commission proved by clear and convincing evidence that respondent engaged in some of the misconduct alleged in the remaining six counts. The Court suspended respondent, without pay, for three years. View "In re Day" on Justia Law

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Two sets of petitioners challenged the Oregon Attorney General’s certified ballot title for Initiative Petition 28 (IP 28). IP 28, if adopted, would add an exception to the constitutional protections recognized in Vannatta v. Keisling, 931 P2d 770 (1997). Petitioners challenged the caption, the “yes” and “no” result statements, and the summary. Finding revisions warranted for all elements to the ballot title, the Oregon Supreme Court referred the matter back to the Attorney General for modification. View "Markley/Lutz v. Rosenblum" on Justia Law

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Two sets of petitioners challenged the Oregon Attorney General’s certified ballot title for Initiative Petition 28 (IP 28). IP 28, if adopted, would add an exception to the constitutional protections recognized in Vannatta v. Keisling, 931 P2d 770 (1997). Petitioners challenged the caption, the “yes” and “no” result statements, and the summary. Finding revisions warranted for all elements to the ballot title, the Oregon Supreme Court referred the matter back to the Attorney General for modification. View "Markley/Lutz v. Rosenblum" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District (TriMet), sought a declaration that planned, future collective bargaining sessions between TriMet’s bargaining team and the bargaining team for defendant Amalgamated Transit Union Local 757 (ATU) would not be “meetings” subject to the open meetings requirements of Oregon’s Public Meetings Law, ORS 192.610 to ORS 192.695. ATU opposed the declaration, and the parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment. The trial court agreed with TriMet and granted its motion, but the Court of Appeals vacated and remanded, reasoning that, even if the bargaining sessions were not “meetings” as that term was defined in the Public Meetings Law, ORS 192.610(5), when the TriMet team participates in the sessions, it may be subject to the prohibition in ORS 192.630(2) that, generally: “A quorum of a governing body may not meet in private for the purpose of deciding on or deliberating toward a decision on any matter[.]” The Oregon Supreme Court concluded the Court of Appeals’ construction of that statute was correct, and TriMet failed to establish, on this summary judgment record, that no “quorum” of the TriMet team would “meet” during the negotiations; thus, TriMet failed to establish as a matter of law that the bargaining sessions at issue will not be subject to ORS 192.630(2). Finally, the Supreme Court rejected ATU’s proposal that another provision of the Public Meetings Law, ORS 192.660(3), required that all bargaining sessions of a public body be conducted in an “open meeting” unless both parties consent to private meetings. View "TriMet v. Amalgamated Transit Union Local 757" on Justia Law

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In 2005, the child who was the focus of this proceeding was born. He had an autism spectrum disorder, developmental delays, including speech delays, and other significant health issues. In 2010, when the child was five years old, his mother and father divorced. Mother had been his primary caretaker, and she was awarded sole legal custody. In 2015, when the child was 10 years old, the Oregon Department of Human Services investigated reports that mother was neglecting the child’s basic needs and risking his safety by allowing him to have contact with her significant other, L. The department issued a “founded disposition” based on its administrative determination that mother had neglected the child through a “[l]ack of supervision and protection.” The department then filed a petition to obtain dependency jurisdiction over the child. When a parent appeals a jurisdictional judgment making the Department the legal custodian of the parent’s child and that wardship is subsequently terminated, the department may file a motion to dismiss the appeal as moot. In this case, the Oregon Supreme Court concluded termination of such a wardship did not necessarily render the appeal moot; whether dismissal is appropriate will depend on the particular circumstances presented. In this case, the Supreme Court concluded the department met its burden to prove that a jurisdictional judgment would have no practical effect on the rights of the parties and was therefore moot. View "Dept. of Human Services v. A. B." on Justia Law

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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

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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