Justia Minnesota Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Government & Administrative Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the Minnesota Tax Court reducing the Commissioner of Revenue's valuations of CenterPoint Energy Minnegasco's natural gas distribution pipeline system for January 2, 2018 through January 2, 2019, holding that the Commissioner was not entitled to relief.The tax court reduced the Commissioner's valuations and ordered the Commissioner to recalculate Minnegasco's tax liability. The Commissioner appealed, challenging the tax court's income-equalization and cost approaches. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the tax court (1) did not err in the way that it used the Commissioner's initial assessments when evaluating the totality of the evidence and making its independent evaluations; (2) did not abuse its discretion in considering the conflicting expert opinions; and (3) did not clearly err in finding external obsolescence. View "Commissioner of Revenue v. CenterPoint Energy Resources Corp." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the decision of the court of appeals concluding that Minnesota Rule 8210.2450, subparts 2 and 3 (the rule) does not conflict with Minn. Stat. 203B.121 (the statute) and that the challenged rule was therefore invalid, holding that subpart 3 of the rule conflicted with subdivision 2(b)(3) of the statute.Appellants brought this declaratory judgment action seeking a prospective declaration that the administrative rule, which governed the acceptance of absentee ballots, was invalid because the rule subparts conflicted with the statute by infringing on discretion the legislature gave to ballot board members. The court of appeals determined that there was no conflict between the rule and the statute. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding (1) Minn. R. 8210.2450, sub. 3, which authorized any ballot board member to review signatures in the event of an identification number mismatch, was invalid to the extent that the rule conflicted with Minn. Stat. 203B.121, subd.2(b)(3), which required that election judges conduct that review; and (2) the other challenged parts of the rule did not conflict with the statute. View "Minn. Voters Alliance v. Office of Minn. Secretary of State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals reversing the judgment of the district court declaring Appellant eligible to submit a petition seeking compensation based on exoneration under Minnesota's Incarceration and Exoneration Remedies Act, Minn. Stat. 611.362 to 611.368, holding that Appellant was not eligible for compensation based on exoneration.At issue was whether Appellant had established, by a fair preponderance of the evidence, that she was exonerated within the meaning of Minn. Stat. 590.11. The district court concluded that Appellant was eligible for compensation based on a finding of exoneration. The court of appeals agreed that Appellant was "exonerated" but remanded for the district court to determine a separate issue. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Appellant was not eligible for compensation based on exoneration. View "Back v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that Claimant was not entitled to workers' compensation benefits after the date on which he no longer had a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) by a licensed professional using the most recent edition of the Diagnostic and statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).From 2007 to 2020 Claimant was employed as a Mower County Deputy Sheriff. From September 25, 2019 to March 30, 2021, Claimant had a diagnosis of PTSD by a licensed professional, making him eligible for workers' compensation benefits. In this action, Claimant argued that he was entitled to benefits after March 30, 2021, the date that he no longer had a diagnosis of PTSD, because he remained disabled from a mental illness. The compensation court awarded benefits from April 1, 2020 into the present. The court of appeals reversed in part, concluding that Claimant was not entitled to benefits after March 30, 2021. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Claimant was not entitled to workers' compensation benefits after March 30, 2021. View "Chrz v. Mower County" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the Workers' Compensation Court of Appeals (WCCA) reversing the rulings of the compensation judge finding that C. Jeremy Lagasse was entitled to contingent fees under Minn. Stat. 176.081, subd. 1(c) and that Larry Horton was entitled to partial reimbursement of fees under Minn. Stat. 176.081, subd. 7, holding that the WCCA incorrectly applied subdivision 1(c) in its standard of review.Horton, who was injured during his employment with Aspen Waste Systems and sought permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits through Aspen's insurer (Insurer), retained Lagasse to represent him in the matter. The compensation judge determined that Lagasse was entitled to contingent fees and that Horton was entitled to partial reimbursement of fees. The WCCA reversed. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded the case for further proceedings, holding (1) the WCCA incorrectly applied subdivision 1(c); and (2) the compensation judge and the WCCA incorrectly applied subdivision 7. View "Lagasse v. Horton" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals affirming in part and reversing and remanding in part the judgment of the district court denying Energy Policy Advocates' motion to compel and dismissing its civil action against seeking production of certain documents under the Data Practices Act, holding that this Court formally recognizes the common-interest doctrine in Minnesota.Energy Policy submitted document requests under the Data Practices Act, Minn. Stat. 130.01 through 13.90, related to climate-change litigation to the Office of the Attorney General. At issue on appeal was the existence and scope of the applicability of the attorney-client privilege to internal communication among attorneys in public law agencies, the common-interest doctrine, and the section of the Data Practices Act governing Attorney General data. The Supreme Court held (1) the common-interest doctrine is formally recognized in Minnesota; (2) the attorney-client privilege may apply to protect the confidentiality of internal communications among attorneys in public law agencies; and (3) the Legislature's classification of Attorney General data under Minn. Stat. 13.65, subdivision 1 as "private data on individuals" even when the data do not pertain to "individuals" is upheld. View "Energy Policy Advocates v. Ellison" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part the decision of the court of appeals reversing the district court's issuance of an alternative writ of mandamus to compel the Minneapolis Mayor and the Minneapolis City Council to comply and fund a minimum number of police officers, holding that the City Council was meeting its uncontested clear legal duty to fund at least 731 sworn police officers.A group of north Minneapolis residents sought a writ of mandamus to compel the Mayor and City Council to employ and fund at least 0.0017 sworn police officers per resident. The district court concluded that the Minneapolis City Charter created a clear legal duty to employ and fund 0.0017 officers per resident and that Defendants had failed to meet this duty. The court of appeals reversed, holding (1) the Mayor did not have a clear legal duty to employ a minimum number of officers, and (2) the City Council was satisfying its clear legal duty to fund 0.0017 officers per resident. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded in part, holding (1) the Mayor had a clear legal duty to employ 0.0017 sworn police officers per Minneapolis resident; and (2) the City Council was meeting its clear legal duty in this case. View "Spann v. Minneapolis City Council" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals holding that decisions made under Minn. Stat. 43A.33 are quasi-judicial administrative decisions subject to certiorari review by the court but reversed its holding that the Bureau of Mediation Services was a proper party to the appeal, holding that the Bureau was not a proper party to the certiorari appeal.When the Minnesota Department of Corrections sought certiorari review of an arbitrator's decision granting Appellant's appeal from the discharge of his employment at the Minnesota Department of Corrections, Appellant challenged the court of appeals' jurisdiction to hear the appeal, arguing that review must be undertaken by the district court. The court of appeals upheld the arbitrator's decision. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) Appellant and the Department were not parties to an arbitration agreement that invoked the judicial review procedures of the Uniform Arbitration Act; (2) the decision of an arbitrator appointed according to section 43A.33 is a quasi-judicial determination of an inferior tribunal reviewable via writ of certiorari at the court of appeals; and (3) the Bureau was not a proper party to this appeal because it had no legal or equitable interest in the outcome. View "Minn. Department of Corrections v. Knutson" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the judgment of the district court dismissing the petitions for writs of mandamus filed by Minnesota Voters Alliance, et al. (collectively, the Alliance), holding that the Alliance failed to show the violation of a duty clearly established by law.In the mandamus petitions, the Alliance alleged that Ramsey County, Olmsted County, and other entities violated their statutory obligations for appointing members to absentee ballot board during the 2020 general election. Specifically, Alliance argued that the statutory requirements for election judges also apply to deputy county auditors. The district court dismissed the petitions, and the court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court properly dismissed the Alliance's mandamus petitions. View "Minnesota Voters Alliance v. County of Ramsey" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the tax court concluding that three clinics - Perham Clinic, Ottertail Clinic, and New York Mills Clinic - were not subject to property tax because they clinics were exempt under Minn. Stat. 447.31, subd. 6, holding that there was no error.The exemption at issue is provided for hospital districts. At issue on appeal was whether to classify the three medical clinics that were owned and operated by Perham Hospital District as taxable or exempt. Otter Tail County classified the clinics as commercial and thus subject to property tax, concluding that the tax exemption at issue was available to hospitals and not to clinics. After a trial, the tax court concluded that the clinics were exempt from tax under Minn. Stat. 447.31, subd. 6. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the tax court did not clearly err in finding that the District used the clinics to improve and run Perham Hospital during the tax years at issue. View "Perham Hospital District v. County of Otter Tail" on Justia Law