Articles Posted in Government & Administrative Law

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Gary Clark was having a psychotic episode. His brother was having trouble subduing Clark, and called the Broken Arrow Policy to assist. When Clark charged at one of the officers with a knife, he was shot. Clark ultimately survived his gunshot wounds, but had not fully recovered. Clark sued, claiming a violation of a number of his constitutional, state-common-law, and federal-statutory rights. The district court granted summary judgment to Wagoner County Board of Commissioners, Wagoner County Sheriff Robert Colbert, and former Wagoner County Jail Nurse Vicki Holland on Clark’s claims against them. Given the undisputed facts, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals concluded a reasonable jury could not find the officers violated Clark’s Fourth Amendment right to be free from excessive force. In addition, Clark failed to adequately brief issues necessary to justify reversal on his Oklahoma-tort and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) claims. Therefore, the Court affirmed summary judgment in favor of the governmental officials. View "Clark v. Colbert" on Justia Law

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Canyon Fuel Company operated the Sufco Mine, a coal mine located in Sevier County, Utah. Under federal law, the mine had to have two escapeways in the event of an emergency: a primary and an alternate. An inspector for the Mine Safety and Health Administration (“MSHA”) cited Canyon Fuel for a violation of this mine safety requirement. Canyon Fuel unsuccessfully contested the citation before the federal agency and appealed to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. After review, the Tenth Circuit affirmed the Secretary of Labor’s interpretation of the regulation as requiring consideration of both above- and below-ground factors, but vacated the citation because it was not supported by substantial evidence. View "Canyon Fuel Company v. Secretary of Labor" on Justia Law

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This case was a qui tam action alleging violations of the False Claims Act (“FCA”) involving fraudulent reimbursements under the Medicare Act. Plaintiff Gerald Polukoff, M.D., was a doctor who worked with Defendant Sherman Sorensen, M.D. After observing some of Sorensen’s medical practices, Polukoff brought this FCA action, on behalf of the United States, against Sorensen and the two hospitals where Sorensen worked (collectively, “Defendants”). Polukoff alleged Sorensen performed thousands of unnecessary heart surgeries and received reimbursement through the Medicare Act by fraudulently certifying that the surgeries were medically necessary. Polukoff further alleged the hospitals where Sorensen worked were complicit in and profited from Sorensen’s fraud. The district court granted Defendants’ motions to dismiss, reasoning that a medical judgment could not be false under the FCA. The Tenth Circuit reversed and remanded, holding that a doctor’s certification to the government that a procedure is “reasonable and necessary” is “false” under the FCA if the procedure was not reasonable and necessary under the government’s definition of the phrase. View "Polukoff v. St. Mark's Hospital" on Justia Law

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Silvan Warnick brought a malicious prosecution case and a number of state law tort claims against several Salt Lake County prosecutors and investigators. Warnick served as a constable in Salt Lake County. Daniel Herboldsheimer worked for Warnick as a deputy constable. In 2011, Herboldsheimer was serving as bailiff for the South Salt Lake City Justice Court when a criminal defendant attempted to flee. Herboldsheimer pursued, and eventually both Herboldsheimer and another deputy constable, Scott Hansen, another deputy constable, apprehended the defendant. After the fact, Herboldsheimer filed an incident report describing what had happened. According to the complaint, Warnick told Herboldsheimer that his report did not comport with county policy because it contained hearsay observations from others, and not Herboldsheimer’s direct observations. In particular, Herboldsheimer’s report made incorrect statements about Hansen’s use of force to subdue the fleeing defendant. Warnick alleged Herboldsheimer took offense to Warnick’s rebuke. Soon afterward, Herboldsheimer contacted the Salt Lake County Attorney’s Office and falsely complained that Warnick and his staff member, Alanna Warnick (Silvan Warnick’s wife), had instructed him to falsify his incident report. In addition, Herboldsheimer told the prosecutors that Warnick had made changes to his report - something he took to be falsification. Warnick claimed he was falsely accused of tampering with evidence that led to the filing of criminal charges against him that were later dismissed. The district court granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss, and Warnick appealed. The Tenth Circuit affirmed, finding, like the district court, that absolute prosecutorial immunity precluded Warnick from suing the prosecutors for filing charges, and that Warnick failed to plead the rest of his allegations with sufficient factual specificity. View "Warnick v. Cooley" on Justia Law

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Jake’s Fireworks, Inc. (“Jake’s”), a fireworks importer and distributor, assigned two employees to clean out its old facility. A fire broke out, injuring one employee and killing the other. After an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) inspection, the Secretary of Labor (the “Secretary”) cited Jake’s for violating OSHA safety and health standards. Jake’s contested the citation before an Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission (“OSHRC”) Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”), who affirmed in full. Jake’s sought review from the OSHRC’s discretionary review panel (the “Commission”), but it declined, finalizing the ALJ’s decision. Jake’s then filed a petition to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, contesting violations of: (1) 29 C.F.R. 1910.109(b)(1), improper storage and handling of explosives; (2) 29 C.F.R. 1910.178(c)(2)(vii), improper use of a liquidpropane (“LP”) forklift around combustible dust; and (3) 29 C.F.R. 1910.1200(e)(1), lack of a written hazard communication program. Finding no reversible error, the Tenth Circuit denied the petition for review. View "Jake's Fireworks v. Department of Labor" on Justia Law

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Alejandro Lujan Jimenez petitioned for review a final order of removal and an order by the Bureau of Immigration Appeals (“BIA”) declining to sua sponte reopen removal proceedings. Lujan is a native and citizen of Mexico. He first entered the United States as a child sometime in the 1990s. His most recent entry into the United States occurred in May 2004. In January 2007, Lujan pled guilty in Colorado state court to Criminal Trespass of a Motor Vehicle with the Intent to Commit a Crime Therein, and sentenced to 35 days in jail. The Department of Homeland Security filed a notice charging Lujan as removable. He received three continuances of removal proceedings until April 2009 when he conceded removability. Lujan then applied for adjustment of status and cancellation of removal. He obtained four additional continuances of his removal proceedings. Lujan appeared in immigration court on June 5, 2013, and the IJ granted counsel’s motion to withdraw. Lujan stated that he was attempting to obtain new counsel, but proceeded pro se at the hearing. The IJ denied relief, concluding that Lujan was ineligible for adjustment of status based on his immigration history and that he was ineligible for cancellation of removal because he had been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude—his criminal trespass offense in Colorado. Lujan appealed to the BIA, arguing that the IJ’s denial of a continuance violated his right to due process and that his Colorado conviction was not a crime involving moral turpitude. The BIA affirmed the IJ’s ruling. Lujan then filed an untimely petition for review, which was dismissed. The Tenth Circuit determined it lacked jurisdiction over petition number 17-9527: review of the BIA’s decision declining to sua sponte reopen his removal proceedings. The Court has previously held that “we do not have jurisdiction to consider [a] petitioner’s claim that the BIA should have sua sponte reopened the proceedings . . . because there are no standards by which to judge the agency’s exercise of discretion.” View "Lujan-Jimenez v. Sessions" on Justia Law

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Petitioner-Appellant Azael Bedolla-Zarate, a native and citizen of Mexico, petitioned the Tenth Circuit for review of a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Final Administrative Removal Order (FARO) based upon his having been convicted of an aggravated felony. Bedolla-Zarate was convicted of third-degree sexual abuse of a minor in Wyoming state court in September 2016. He contended that his conviction did not qualify as an aggravated felony. The Tenth Circuit found a person convicted under the Wyoming sexual abuse of a minor statute necessarily has committed sexual abuse of a minor under the INA, therefore DHS properly issued a FARO against Bedolla-Zarate for committing an aggravated felony under the INA. The Court denied review. View "Bedolla-Zarate v. Sessions" on Justia Law

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M.A.K. Investment Group, LLC owned several parcels of property in Glendale, Colorado. The City adopted a resolution declaring several of M.A.K.’s parcels “blighted” under state law. Glendale never notified M.A.K. of its resolution or the legal consequences flowing from it. The blight resolution began a seven-year window in which the City could begin condemnation proceedings against M.A.K.’s property. It also started the clock on a thirty-day window in which M.A.K. had a right to seek judicial review of the blight resolution under state law. Receiving no notice, M.A.K. did not timely seek review. M.A.K. argued Colorado’s Urban Renewal statute, both on its face and as-applied to M.A.K., violated due process because it did not require municipalities to notify property owners about a blight determination, or the thirty days owners had to seek review. The Tenth Circuit concluded the statute was unconstitutional as applied to M.A.K. because M.A.K. did not receive notice that Glendale found its property blighted. Because of this, the Court did not decide whether the statute was unconstitutional on its face. As for M.A.K.’s second argument, the Court held due process did not require Glendale to inform M.A.K. about the thirty-day review window. View "M.A.K. Investment Group v. City of Glendale" on Justia Law

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M.A.K. Investment Group, LLC owned several parcels of property in Glendale, Colorado. The City adopted a resolution declaring several of M.A.K.’s parcels “blighted” under state law. Glendale never notified M.A.K. of its resolution or the legal consequences flowing from it. The blight resolution began a seven-year window in which the City could begin condemnation proceedings against M.A.K.’s property. It also started the clock on a thirty-day window in which M.A.K. had a right to seek judicial review of the blight resolution under state law. Receiving no notice, M.A.K. did not timely seek review. M.A.K. argued Colorado’s Urban Renewal statute, both on its face and as-applied to M.A.K., violated due process because it did not require municipalities to notify property owners about a blight determination, or the thirty days owners had to seek review. The Tenth Circuit concluded the statute was unconstitutional as applied to M.A.K. because M.A.K. did not receive notice that Glendale found its property blighted. Because of this, the Court did not decide whether the statute was unconstitutional on its face. As for M.A.K.’s second argument, the Court held due process did not require Glendale to inform M.A.K. about the thirty-day review window. View "M.A.K. Investment Group v. City of Glendale" on Justia Law

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This case centered on an agreement between the City of Rawlins, Wyoming, and Dirty Boyz Sanitation Services (Dirty Boyz) for local garbage collection and disposal. About two years after the parties executed the agreement, the State of Wyoming required Rawlins to close its landfill. Soon after, Rawlins opened a transfer station to process garbage for transport to a landfill elsewhere. Later, Rawlins adopted a flow-control ordinance requiring that all locally licensed garbage haulers take collected garbage to Rawlins’ transfer station. Dirty Boyz argued the ordinance violated the Contract Clause of the United States Constitution, and was preempted by the Federal Aviation Administration and Authorization Act (FAAAA). The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Rawlins. Finding no reversible error, the Tenth Circuit affirmed the grant of summary judgment in Rawlins' favor. View "Dirty Boyz Sanitation Service v. City of Rawlins" on Justia Law