Articles Posted in Government & Administrative Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the district court upholding the decision of the Department of Health for Medicaid, holding that the Department did not act in accordance with law when it denied Lucile Anderson’s application to have her sons’ payment of her attorney fees treated as a return of assets. The Department found Anderson eligible for nursing home benefits but suspended her eligibility as a penalty for her transfer of assets at below fair market value. Anderson’s sons paid the attorney fees and costs Anderson incurred in her unsuccessful appeal, and Anderson applied to have that payment treated as a return of assets, which would shorten the penalty period. The Department denied the application. The district court affirmed the Department’s decision. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the Department erred in denying Anderson’s application because the Department’s Medicaid rules did not, as a matter of law, preclude the payment of Anderson’s attorney fees from being treated as a return of assets. View "Anderson v. State ex rel. Department of Health" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court affirming the decision of the Wyoming State Board of Equalization (state) reversing the decision of the Washakie County Board of Equalization (county board) reversing the valuations of the Washakie County Assessor classifying Taxpayers’ four properties as either residential or vacant residential for tax purposes, holding that Taxpayers’ property did not qualify for classification as agricultural lands. Taxpayers separately owned four parcels of land in Washakie County, Wyoming. In March 2014, the Assessor issued notices of assessment for Taxpayers’ properties classifying the parcels as either residential or residential vacant. The county board reversed the valuations, concluding that Taxpayers had demonstrated that their properties met the four requirements under Wyo. Stat. Ann. 39-13-103(b)(x)(B) to be taxed as agricultural land. The state board reversed. The district court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Taxpayers failed to meet their burden to overcome the presumption in favor of the Assessor’s assessments. View "Helmut v. Mueller Limited Partnership v. Treanor" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the district court reversing the decision of the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) reversing the decision of the Wyoming Department of Family Services (DFS) terminating Appellant’s position as a fraud investigator, holding that the OAH’s determination that DFS lacked good cause for dismissing Appellant was supported by substantial evidence and complied with the law. DFS dismissed Appellant when it discovered that she signed daycare logs for her grandchildren that resulted in overpayment of DFS child care benefits to daycare providers in the amount of $196.95. The OAH reversed, concluding that DFS lacked good cause for dismissing Appellant. The district court reversed. The Supreme Court reversed the district court’s judgment and reinstated the OAH’s decision, holding the OAH’s determination was supported by substantial evidence and in accordance with the law. View "Lietz v. State ex rel. Department of Family Services" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the orders of the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) granting summary judgment to Air Methods/Rocky Mountain Holdings, LLC, EagleMed, LLC, and Med-Trans Corp. (collectively, Claimants) and ruling that the Wyoming Workers’ Compensation Division (Division) was required to pay the full amount billed by Claimants, holding that Wyo. Stat. Ann. 27-14-401(e), as severed, required the Division to pay Claimants the full amount of their billing for air ambulance services. Claimants, who operated air ambulance services in Wyoming, filed separate claims with the Division for services they provided to injured workers. The Division paid only the amounts permitted by its fee schedule, which were significantly less than the amounts billed. Claimants appealed. The OAH ruled (1) in accordance with a federal ruling that the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978 (ADA) preempted the Division’s air ambulance fee schedule, the Division was required to pay the full amount billed by Claimants; and (2) Air Methods was not entitled to pre- or post-judgment interest on its claims. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the OAH correctly ruled (1) section 27-14-401(e) was severable and, as severed, required Claimants to be paid the full amount they sought; and (2) it lacked statutory authority to award interest on the contested claims. View "Air Methods/Rocky Mountain Holdings, LLC v. State ex rel. Department of Workforce Services" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the Wyoming Board of Equalization (Board) concluding that the issue disputed by the parties in this case was moot, holding that the Board exceeded its authority when it decided an issue that was not before it. Solvay Chemicals, Inc. appealed to the Board the Department of Revenue’s (DOR) assessment of the taxable value of soda ash produced at its trona mine in Sweetwater County, disputing the calculations the DOR used to determine the amount of the deduction for bagging some of the soda. After a contested case hearing, the Board requested supplemental briefs to address a question of statutory construction that had not been raised by either party. The Board then decided that the issue was whether Solvay was entitled to any bagging deduction at all. The Board ultimately concluded that because the governing statute did not allow for a separate deduction for bagging the issue was moot. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the Board exceeded its authority when it based its order on an issue not contested or addressed by either party during the contested case hearing. View "Solvay Chemicals, Inc. v. State Department of Revenue" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Medical Commission approving John Lysne’s worker’s compensation claim seeking coverage for knee replacement surgery, holding that the Commission’s finding that Lysne’s work injury caused his need for knee replacement surgery was supported by substantial evidence and not contrary to law. On appeal, the Workers’ Compensation Division argued that Lysne did not provide adequate proof that his need for knee replacement surgery was causally related to his work injury. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that there was substantial evidence to support the Commission’s finding of causation and the Commission’s rejection of contrary medical evidence that the workplace injury was not causally related to Lysne’s requested surgery. View "State ex rel. Department of Workforce Services, Workers' Compensation Division v. Lysne" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court affirming the Medical Commission Hearing Panel’s decision the Workers’ Compensation Division’s denial of permanent total disability benefits for a back injury Pete Hart sustained at work, holding (1) the district court appropriately remanded the claim to the Medical Commission, rather than simply reversing and awarding benefits, for further findings of fact and conclusions of law; and (2) the Medical Commission’s conclusion that Hart failed to demonstrate his disability was caused by his work-related back injury was supported by substantial evidence in the record. View "Hart 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 Medical Commission upholding the decision of the Department of Workforce Services, Workers’ Compensation Division (the Division) denying benefits for Appellant’s back surgery, holding that substantial evidence supported the Medical Commission’s (the Commission) determination that the procedure was “alternative medicine” for which benefits were properly denied. Appellant underwent artificial disc replacement to treat her work-related back injury. The Division denied compensation for the jury, finding that it was not reasonable and necessary medical treatment because the artificial disc and surgical procedure had not been approved by the FDA and because Appellant had not presented sufficient objective medical support for their use. The Commission affirmed the Division’s denial of compensation, determining that the procedure was an “off-label” use of medical services and “alternative medicine” for which Appellant did not prove adequate support. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the Commission erred in determining that implantation of non-FDA-approved artificial discs at adjacent levels of the lumbar spine was an “off-label” use of medical services; but (2) substantial evidence supported the Commission’s determination that Appellant failed to provide sufficient documentation of the procedure’s safety and effectiveness, rending it “alternative medicine” for which benefits were properly denied. View "Harborth v. State, ex rel., Department of Workforce Services, Workers’ Compensation Division" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court answered a question certified to it by the United States District Court for the District of Wyoming concerning the definition of “sell” or “sale” set forth in Wyo. Stat. Ann. 12-1-101(a)(xvi), holding that that the statutory definition of “sell” or “sale” applied to the conduct of Traveling Vineyard and its Independent Wine Guides (collectively, Appellants). Michaela Robinson was a Wyoming resident and an independent contractor for Traveling Vineyard, a Massachusetts LLC with three federal and state licensed, bonded wineries. Robinson was known as an Independent Wine Guide, who earned compensation for promoting products at in-home wine tastings. The Wyoming Department of Revenue, Liquor Division asserted that some aspects of Traveling Vineyard’s business model and some of its Independent Wine Guides’ activities were in conflict with Wyoming State Statutes, Title 12, Alcoholic Beverage Control Laws and Wyoming Liquor Division rules and policies. In response, Appellants sought a declaration that the Division improperly interpreted the definition of “sale” in section 12-1-101(a)(xvi) and applied it to them. The federal court certified to the Supreme Court a question of state law. The Supreme Court answered that the statutory definition of “sell” or “sale” applied to the conduct of Appellants. View "Phoenix Vintners, LLC v. Noble" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court affirming the decision of the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) concluding that the Wyoming Workers’ Compensation Division (Division) had properly terminated Appellant’s temporary total disability (TTD) benefits. The Division terminated Appellant’s TTD benefits after determining that Appellant had reached maximum medical improvement (MMI) and suffered an ascertainable loss. After a contested case hearing, the OAH concluded that the Division had properly ceased paying TTD benefits. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the OAH properly applied the relevant legal principals in reviewing the Division’s decision to terminate Appellant’s TTD benefits, and the OAH’s decision was supported by substantial evidence. View "Coggins v. State ex rel., Department of Workforce Services" on Justia Law