Justia Wyoming Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Government & Administrative Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court affirming the decision of the Board of Trustees of Laramie County School District Number Two (the Board) dismissing Appellant from his teaching contract with Laramie County School District Number Two (the District) after Appellant disciplined his daughter at school, holding that substantial evidence supported the Board's dismissal decision.At issue was whether district policies and professional conduct standards applied to Appellant, a teacher, who disciplined his child, a student, on school grounds during school hours. The Board concluded that those policies and standards applied to Appellant and dismissed him. The district court affirmed the dismissal and affirmed the Board's decision to pay Appellant only a pro-rata portion of extra-duty pay for coaching track and no bonus following his suspension with pay. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) substantial evidence supported the Board's decision dismissing Appellant; and (2) there was no Board decision on extra-duty or bonus pay for this Court to review. View "Mirich v. State ex rel., Board of Trustees of Laramie County School District Two" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the Laramie County Planning Commission denying Asphalt Specialities Co., Inc.'s (ASCI) site plan application for a hard rock quarry operation in Laramie County, holding that the Commission's decision was unlawful and must be set aside under Wyo. Stat. Ann. 16-3-114(c)(ii).At issue on appeal was whether the Commission's decision to deny ASCI's application was in excess of statutory jurisdiction, authority or limits or lacking statutory right. The Supreme Court concluded that it was, holding that the Commission exceeded its statutory authority when it utilized its comprehensive land use plan and the site plan review process to deny ASCI use of its land for a limited gravel mining operation. View "Asphalt Specialties Co., Inc. v. Laramie County Planning Commission" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court dismissing Plaintiff's pro se complaint filed under the Uniform Declaratory Judgments Act alleging that the Wyoming Department of Corrections (WDOC) inmate classification policies are invalid rules, holding that the WDOC's inmate classification policy is not a rule required to be filed with the Wyoming Secretary of State.Plaintiff pled guilty to kidnapping and first-degree sexual assault and was sentenced to two concurrent life sentences. In his complaint for declaratory judgment Plaintiff alleged that the failure to file WDOC policies and procedures with the Secretary of State rendered them, and any actions taken pursuant to them, void. Therefore, Plaintiff claimed that his recent inmate classification was void. The district court dismissed the complaint. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the WDOC was not required to file the inmate classification policy at issue with the Secretary of State's office, and therefore, Plaintiff failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. View "Bird v. Lampert" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court remanded this case to the district court with instructions to determine whether excusable neglect extended Plaintiff's time to file the petition for review of the decision of the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) concluding that Plaintiff's infection was not compensable, holding that the record did not reveal whether the district court considered the question of excusable neglect.Plaintiff scraped his knuckle on a locker as he was getting ready to leave a trona mine, where he worked. The scrape developed necrotizing fasciitis, causing serious injuries. The Department of Workforce Services, Workers' Compensation Division, deemed Plaintiff's injury compensable. The OAH served an order concluding that Plaintiff's injuries were not compensable. The district court reversed, concluding that Plaintiff's infection was compensable. Plaintiff's employer appealed, arguing that the district court lacked jurisdiction because the petition for judicial review was untimely filed. The Supreme Court remanded the case for the limited purpose of determining whether excusable neglect extended the time for filing a petition for review. View "Tata Chemicals Soda Ash Partners, Ltd v. Vinson" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the Teton County Board of County Commissioners approving an application by the Teton Raptor Center for an amended conditional use permit (CUP) to expand the use of its property, holding that the Board's decision was not arbitrary and capricious and did not violate the law.In 2008, after obtaining variances to address nonconformities on structures on its property the Raptor Center obtained a CUP allowing the Raptor Center to operate its bird care and education facility. In 2017, the Raptor Center decided to expand its use of the site and applied to amend its 2008 CUP. The Board approved the application. Petitioners - nearby landowners and other parties - appealed, and the district court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Petitioners had standing to appeal the Board's decision; and (2) the Board reasonably concluded that the amended CUP complied with all relevant standards and resolutions and that the amended CUP substantially complied with the requirements of the 2008 variance. View "HB Family Limited Partnership v. Teton County Board of County Commissioners" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Department of Workforce Services, Unemployment Insurance Commission denying Jesse Gerber unemployment benefits, holding that the Commission correctly determined that Gerber was not eligible for employment benefits.The Commission determined that Gerber had left work voluntarily without good cause and did not qualify for the "returning to approved training" exception in Wyo. Stat. Ann. 27-3-311(a)(i)(B). The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Gerber did not meet the conditions of the statutory exception, and therefore, the Commission's decision denying Gerber unemployment benefits conformed with the law. View "Gerber v. State ex rel., Department of Workforce Services" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Medical Commission upholding that decision of the Wyoming Workers' Safety and Compensation Division denying workers' compensation benefits because Appellant failed to establish a causal connection between his injury and employment, holding that the Commission's decision was not contrary to the overwhelming weight of the evidence.The Division denied benefits because Appellant did not submit evidence establishing a causal connection between his injury and employment as required by Wyo. Stat. Ann. 27-14-603(a). The Commission upheld the denial of benefits after rejecting the opinions of Appellant's medical experts. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Commission's determination that Appellant failed to meet his burden under section 27-14-603(a) for an injury occurring over a substantial period of time was not contrary to the overwhelming weight of the evidence. View "McMillan 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 two lawsuits brought by Black Diamond Energy of Delaware, Inc. (BDED) in an attempt to challenge the forfeiture of its bonds by the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, holding that the complaint in Case No. 2017-0074 was outside the scope of 30-5-113(a) and that the complaint in Case No. 2018-0011 was brought in the wrong venue.BDED, an oil and gas exploration company, secured a Wyoming oil and gas lease by posting bonds with the Commission and the Wyoming Office of State Lands and Investments. After the Commission ordered the bonds forfeited, BDED did not seek administrative review but, instead filed these lawsuits claiming that certain statutes authorized the direct action. The district court dismissed both lawsuits on the ground that BDED had failed to comply with the Wyoming Administrative Procedures Act. The Supreme Court affirmed but on different grounds, holding (1) BDED's complaint against the Commission in Case No. 2017-0074 was not properly brought pursuant to Wyo. Stat. Ann. 30-5-113(a); and (2) BDED did not bring its Wyoming Governmental Claims Act complaint in Case No. 2018-0011 in the proper venue. View "Black Diamond Energy of Delaware Inc. v. Wyoming Oil & Gas Conservation Commission" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the district court concluding that the Board of County Commissioners of Laramie County had authority to dissolve the Laramie County Fair Board of Trustees, holding that the Commissioners did not have authority to dissolve the Fair Board.The Commissioners passed a resolution dissolving the Fair Board and assigning a new entity, the Laramie County Events Department, the task of operating the county fair. The Fair Board brought this declaratory judgment action seeking a declaration that the Commissioners lacked the authority to dissolve the Fair Board or to reallocate tax money originally collected for the Fair Board's use. The district court entered declaratory relief in favor of the Commissioners. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the Fair Board had standing to maintain this declaratory judgment action; and (2) under the circumstances, the Commissioners did not have the implied authority to dissolve the Fair Board. View "Board of Trustees of Laramie County v. Board of County Commissioners of Laramie County" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court upholding the decision oft he Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) denying workers' compensation benefits to Appellant, holding that a previous order by the OAH was not a final, appealable order and that collateral estoppel was not applicable.Appellant filed for workers' compensation benefits after his leg was amputated below the knee. The Department of Workforce Services, Workers' Compensation Division (the Division) denied the claim. Appellant appealed, but while the contested case hearing was pending the Division withdrew its denial of benefits. In response, the OAH issued an order vacating the hearing and directing the Division to award workers' compensation benefits. The Division issued a redetermination in favor of Appellant. Appellant's employer objected, and after a contested case hearing, OAH denied workers' compensation benefits. The district court upheld the OAH decision denying benefits. On appeal, Appellant claimed that the first OAH order was a final appealable order awarding benefits and that his employer was collaterally estopped from objecting to the Division's redetermination awarding benefits. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that the first OAH order was not a "prior adjudication" of workers' compensation benefits and provided no basis to implicate the principle of collateral estoppel. View "Lower v. Peabody Powder River Services, LLC" on Justia Law