Articles Posted in Government & Administrative Law

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Minnesota’s water’s edge rule, Minn. Stat. 290.17(4)(f), does not prohibit the inclusion in “net income” the income of a foreign entity that elects under federal tax law to be disregarded as a separate entity. At issue in this appeal from the tax court was whether the consequences of an election made under federal tax law by a foreign entity owned by Ashland Inc., a domestic unitary business, must be recognized in determining Ashland’s Minnesota tax liability. The Commissioner of Revenue concluded that the income and apportionment factors of the foreign entity were improperly included in Ashland’s combined return and so excluded them in calculating Ashland’s Minnesota tax liability. The tax court granted Ashland’s motion for summary judgment, concluding that the consequences of the federal election were properly included in the determination of Ashland’s net income on its Minnesota tax returns. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the tax court did not err in its conclusion. View "Ashland Inc. & Affiliates v. Commissioner of Revenue" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the Workers' Compensation Court of Appeals (WCCA) to reverse the denial of Respondent's claim for ankle-fusion surgery. Respondent, who was injured during the course of her employment, filed a workers’ compensation claim petition for ankle-fusion surgery. The compensation judge denied Respondent’s claim for the ankle-fusion surgery. The WCCA reversed. Respondent’s employer appealed, arguing that the WCCA exceeded the scope of its review when it reversed the compensation judge’s decision to deny benefits to Respondent. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the compensation judge’s finding was “supported by evidence that a reasonable mind might accept as adequate,” and therefore, the WCCA clearly and manifestly erred in rejecting this finding. View "Mattick v. Hy-Vee Foods Stores" on Justia Law

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The Workers’ Compensation Court of Appeals (WCCA) clearly and manifestly erred by rejecting the findings of the compensation judge and overturning the determination that Respondent failed to establish her claim for benefits by a preponderance of the evidence. Respondent filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits after falling and injuring her shoulder while rushing up a staircase at the workplace of her employer. The compensation judge denied the claim. The WCCA reversed the compensation judge’s decision. The Supreme Court reversed the WCCA’s decision and reinstated the compensation judge’s decision, holding (1) the WCCA impermissibly substituted its own view of the evidence for that of the compensation judge; and (2) the findings of the compensation judge were supported by substantial evidence that a reasonable mind would accept as adequate. View "Kubis v. Community Memorial Hospital Ass’n" on Justia Law

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The Workers’ Compensation Court of Appeals (WCCA) was correct in concluding that Respondent’s injury was compensable. Respondent, who was employed by the University of Minnesota, slipped and fell on any icy sidewalk when walking from her workplace to a parking ramp owned and operated by the university. The compensation judge denied Respondent’s claim for workers’ compensation benefits, concluding that Respondent’s injury did not “arise out of” her employment. The WCCA reversed, concluding that Respondent was in the course of her employment when she was injured. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Respondent’s injury was compensable because it both arose out of, and was in the course of, her employment. View "Hohlt v. University of Minnesota" on Justia Law

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The Workers’ Compensation Court of Appeals (WCCA) abused its discretion when it granted Eddie Hudson’s petition to vacate an award of workers’ compensation benefits. Hudson was injured while working for Trillium Staffing and filed a workers’ compensation claim. The parties eventually settled. About one year later, Hudson filed a petition to vacate the award. The Workers’ Compensation Court of Appeals (WCCA) granted the petition, finding that Hudson’s medical condition had substantially changed in a way that clearly was not, and could not reasonably have been, anticipated at the time of the award. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the WCCA abused its discretion when it granted Hudson’s petition because the medical opinion underlying the WCCA’s decision lacked foundation and therefore did not establish a substantial change in Hudson’s medical condition. View "Hudson v. Trillium Staffing" on Justia Law

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This tax dispute arose out of a failed real estate investment that resulted in significant tax consequences for Germaine Harmon, the widow of one of the original investors. Harmon challenged the Commissioner of Revenue’s assessment of her 2010 Minnesota income-tax liability, which the Commissioner based on a Schedule K-1 filed by the partnership in charge of the foreclosed real estate investment. The Supreme Court affirmed the tax court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the Commissioner, holding that the tax court did not err by determining that Harmon failed to overcome the presumption of validity of the Commissioner’s assessment of taxes. View "Harmon v. Commissioner of Revenue" on Justia Law

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Appellant submitted several requests for public government data from Hennepin County and the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office (collectively, Respondents) under the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act. Respondents responded to all of Appellant’s requests except for a request asking that Respondents perform a computer-aided search of their stored e-emails using twenty separate search terms. Appellant filed a complaint alleging that Hennepin County had violated the Data Practices Act by failing to promptly and substantively respond to his data requests. An administrative law judge (ALJ) concluded that Hennepin County had violated the Data Practices Act and ordered it to produce all requested data. Respondents appealed the decision and obtained a stay from the ALJ pending appeal. Thereafter, Appellant filed a motion to lift the stay. The court of appeals denied the motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the ALJ’s decision to issue a stay pending appeal was not an abuse of discretion. View "Webster v. Hennepin County" on Justia Law

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Respondent received a head injury during the course of her employment. Respondent filed a request with the workers’ compensation division seeking coverage for various treatments she was receiving for her injuries, including treatment for emotional and psychological conditions that allegedly developed from her injury. The compensation judge denied Respondent’s request for coverage of emotional and psychological conditions, finding that Respondent had not suffered a concussion and post-concussive syndrome. The compensation judge relied heavily on the opinion of a certain psychologist. The WCCA reversed and vacated the denial of coverage of the emotional and psychological conditions, concluding that there was not an adequate factual foundation for the psychologist’s opinion. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the WCCA erred when it raised and ruled on the forfeited issue of whether a psychologist was competent to provide an expert opinion; (2) the WCCA erred when it reversed the compensation judge’s decision based primarily on the psychologist’s report; and (3) the WCCA erred when it reversed the compensation judge’s finding that Respondent did not suffer a concussion and post-concussive syndrome. View "Gianotti v. Independent School District 152" on Justia Law

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The Mandels owned a home that, in 2011, was damaged by rainwater. Based on an post-casualty appraisal, the Mandels deducted $82,247 from their income reflected on their 2011 federal tax return. This deduction also affected the Mandels’ Minnesota taxable income. Following an audit, the Commissioner of Revenue disallowed much of the Mandels’ casualty-loss deduction by reducing the allowable tax deduction to the amount of the cost of the repairs the Mandels actually made to their home. The Mandels appealed. The tax court granted summary judgment in favor of the Commissioner. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the tax court did not err in determining that the Mandels’ post-casualty appraisal was not “competent” and did not err in granting the Commissioner’s motion for summary judgment. View "Mandel v. Commissioner of Revenue" on Justia Law

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Minnesota Energy Resources Corporation (MERC) challenged the Commissioner of Revenue’s 2008 to 2012 valuation of its natural-gas pipeline distribution system. After a trial, the Commissioner determined (1) for each of the years from 2008 to 2011, the market value of MERC’s property was lower than the Commissioner’s valuation; and (2) for 2012, the Commissioner undervalued MERC’s pipeline distribution system. Both MERC and the Commissioner appealed. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding (1) the tax court’s explanation of the beta factors it used to calculate MERC’s cost of equity was insufficient; and (2) the tax court evaluated MERC’s evidence of external obsolescence under the wrong legal standard. Remanded. View "Minnesota Energy Resources Corp. v. Commissioner of Revenue" on Justia Law