Articles Posted in Government & Administrative Law

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Appellants owned residential property in Teton County. JCFT Wyoming Real Estate, LLC owned two parcels in the same area. The Teton County planning director, at Appellants’ request, issued a formal rule interpretation concerning a development permit associated with the JCFT property. At JCFT’s request, the planning director issued a zoning compliance verification (ZCV) concerning JCFT’s smaller parcel. Appellants appealed the rule interpretation and the ZCV decision. The Teton County Board of County Commissioners dismissed the appeals, concluding that Appellants lacked standing to appeal either action. The district court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Appellants lacked standing to challenge the Teton County planning director’s rule interpretation and ZCV decision; and (2) neither decision was ripe for judicial review. View "Moose Hollow Holdings, LLC v. Teton County Board of County Commissioners" on Justia Law

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Collateral estoppel is not given effect to an uncontested Wyoming Workers’ Compensation Division (Division) determination denying workers’ compensation benefits even when the denial is based on a finding that the employee did not suffer a compensable injury. Lea Porter, through her employer, submitted a report of injury to the Division, by which Porter reporter an injury to her left knee. The Division issued to Porter final determination informing her that it would not approve payments of benefits upon its determination that the injury was not a work-related injury. Porter did not object to the final determination or request a hearing but did object to a later final determination of the Division that denied payment of costs related to an MRI of her left knee. The Office of Administrative Hearings granted summary judgment for the Division, concluding that Porter could not challenge the denial of benefits for the MRI because she did not object to the Division’s earlier determination that her injury was not work related. The district court affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Porter’s failure to object to the Division’s compensability determination did not preclude her objection to the Division’s final determination denying benefits to cover her MRI costs. View "Porter v. State ex rel. Department of Workforce Services" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed a declaratory judgment action against the Teton County Assessor seeking a declaration that the trusts for which it acted as trustee were charitable trusts within the meaning of Wyo. Stat. Ann. 4-10-406(a) and were exempt from taxation under Wyo. Stat. Ann. 39-11-105(xix). The district court dismissed the complaint, concluding that the primary jurisdiction doctrine made dismissal of the action appropriate. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) because Plaintiff failed to exhaust its administrative remedies before filing a complaint in the district court, the district court properly dismissed the complaint; and (2) to the extent Plaintiff may have properly invoked the district court’s jurisdiction the district court did not abuse its discretion in concluding that the primary jurisdiction doctrine warranted dismissal of the action in favor of review through the administrative process. View "Thomas Gilcrease Foundation v. Cavallaro" on Justia Law

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The Wyoming Workers’ Compensation Division covered the surgery on Jeffrey Baker’s shoulder, which was injured at work. The Division, however, denied Baker’s subsequent request for temporary total disability benefits related to a neck injury Baker claimed occurred with the shoulder surgery. The Medical Commission Hearing Panel denied Baker’s claim on review, determining that Baker failed to prove a causal relationship between his neck injury and the work-related accident. The district court upheld the decision of the Commission. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Commission’s determination was supported by substantial evidence. View "Baker v. State ex rel. Department of Workforce Services" on Justia Law

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Clare Sikora filed a declaratory judgment action against the City of Rawlins challenging the City’s issuance of a building permit to her next-door neighbors, Jared and Kasandra Ramsey. The district court ruled in favor of the City. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court properly found that Sikora failed to exhaust her administrative remedies; and (2) the district court did not err in finding that the the municipal ordinance governing restoration of a nonconforming building allows for demolition of the nonconforming building and reconstruction of the building within the same footprint - the type of construction undertaken by the Ramseys. View "Sikora v. City of Rawlins" on Justia Law

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In 2013, Karen Hardy was injured during the course of her employment. In 2015, Hardy sought treatment for low back pain. The Department of Workforce Services, Workers’ Compensation Division denied payment for Hardy’s medical bills. The Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) concluded that Hardy’s injury was not compensable because Hardy had failed to prove by a preponderance of the evidence a causal connection between her 2013 work-related injury and her 2015 back injury. The district court affirmed. Hardy appealed, arguing that she was entitled to benefits under the second compensable injury rule. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that substantial evidence supported the OAH’s conclusion that Hardy failed to demonstrate that it was more probable than not that her 2013 injury was causally related to her 2015 injury. View "Hardy v. State ex rel. Department of Workforce Services, Workers’ Compensation Division" on Justia Law

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The State filed a petition alleging that Mother had neglected her two children. Mother admitted to the allegations of the neglect petition and agreed to complete a Department of Family Services (DFS) case plan. The State eventually filed a petition to revoke the consent decree. The juvenile court found the children to be neglected children and ordered that DFS would have legal and physical custody of the children. This appeal concerned the juvenile court’s order changing the permanency plan from reunification to adoption. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the juvenile court did not commit plain error when it did not make a determination prior to the hearing regarding the children’s attendance at the permanency hearing; (2) Mother was not denied due process of law when the permanency hearing was held without the children; and (3) there was sufficient evidence to support the juvenile court’s decision to change the permanency plan from reunification to adoption. View "ST v. State" on Justia Law

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In 2004, Appellant suffered a work-related injury. Appellant had shoulder surgery the next year, and the surgery was covered by the Wyoming Workers’ Compensation Division. In 2013, Appellant sought benefits for surgery on the same shoulder. During the 2013 surgery, Appellant’s surgeon found a hole in the fascia over Appellant’s acromioclavicular joint that may have occurred during the 2005 surgery. Appellant claimed that the 2013 surgery was a second compensable injury, but the Division denied her claim. On appeal, the Medical Commission concluded that there was no causal link between Appellant’s work-related injury and the need for her 2013 surgery. The district court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Commission’s conclusion that Appellant’s medical treatment was not compensable was supported by substantial evidence. View "Price v. State, ex rel., Department of Workforce Services, Workers' Compensation Division" on Justia Law

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After Crook County Weed and Pest Control District applied herbicides to control leafy spurge found on property owned by Bush Land Development Company and Victoria Bush (collectively, Bush), many trees in the area of the spraying died. Bush filed this inverse condemnation action in the district court alleging that it was entitled to just compensation for the loss of its trees as a result of the District’s improper application of herbicides. The district court dismissed Bush’s claim, concluding that the action was not proper under the inverse condemnation statute. The Supreme Court affirmed on other grounds, concluding that the inverse condemnation was not properly before the district court because Bush failed to exhaust its administrative remedies before claiming inverse condemnation. View "Bush Land Development Co. v. Crook County Weed & Pest Control District" on Justia Law

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Appellant, a coal producer that reports the taxable value of its coal to the Department of Revenue using the proportionate profits valuation method, challenged two of the Departments determinations, arguing (1) the Department improperly applied Wyoming law when it set the point of valuation for its coal for production years 2009 through 2011; and (2) the Department improperly categorized certain government-imposed and environmental expenses in the tax valuation formula. The Board of Equalization upheld the Board’s determinations. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the Board correctly upheld the Department’s decision on the point of valuation; and (2) the Board’s decision on the categorization of the environmental and government-imposed expenses was not final, and the issue was not ripe for judicial review. View "Wyodak Resources Development Corp. v. Wyoming Department of Revenue" on Justia Law