Articles Posted in Government & Administrative Law

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In 2005, Roark, a Sunesis laborer, was working alone at the bottom of a trench, when the trench collapsed, killing him. The Bureau of Workers’ Compensation awarded Roark’s dependent children benefits. The dependents sought an additional award based on violations of specific safety requirements for sloping, shoring, and bracing. A hearing officer concluded that Roark’s death was the result of Sunesis’s failure to properly support the trench and ordered Sunesis to pay an additional award based on violations of Ohio Adm.Code 4123:1-3-13. On remand, a hearing officer issued factual findings based on photographs and testimony: Three sides of the trench were adequately shored. The fourth wall, which caved in on Roark, consisted of soil that Sunesis attempted to shore up by sloping the wall and inserting a steel plate above the slope. The hearing officer found no evidence that Roark disregarded instructions to work inside a large underground pipe. On rehearing, in 2012, a hearing officer identified the soil involved as soft material, Class C soil with groundwater, stating that Code Table 13-1 addresses the approximate angle of repose for sloping: The presence of groundwater requires special treatment. The commission, the Tenth District, and the Supreme Court of Ohio upheld the award. It was within the commission’s discretion to conclude that the trench was not properly shored or braced, exposing employees to the danger of moving ground and that failure to comply with the regulations proximately caused Roark’s death. View "Sunesis Construction Co. v. Industrial Commission of Ohio" on Justia Law

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In this appeal from the judgment of the court of appeals in which the court concluded that the Industrial Commission of Ohio should not have denied the application of Appellee for permanent total disability compensation, the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment to the extent that it granted a limited writ of mandamus. The Commission denied Appellee's application, in part, based on Appellee’s refusal to participate in rehabilitative services. The court of appeals issued the limited writ ordering the Commission to address the merits of Appellee’s application without relying on his alleged refusal to accept vocational-rehabilitation services. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and ordered the Commission to consider all the evidence in the record that is related to vocational-rehabilitation services before determining whether Appellee was entitled to permanent total disability compensation. View "State ex rel. Gulley v. Industrial Commission of Ohio" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the Board of Tax Appeals (BTA) dismissing NASCAR Holdings, Inc.’s notice of appeal solely because it was filed by an attorney who was not licensed to practice law in Ohio. The Department of Taxation issued an assessment against NASCAR for $549,520. The Tax Commissioner affirmed the assessment. NASCAR filed a notice of appeal to the BTA. The notice was signed by a Florida-based attorney who was not licensed to practice law in Ohio. The BTA dismissed the appeal, finding that the attorney had engaged in the unauthorized practice of law when he prepared and filed the notice of appeal on NASCAR’s behalf and that this rendered the notice of appeal void ab initio, thereby depriving the Board of jurisdiction over NASCAR’s appeal. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the BTA erred in not applying Jemo Associates, Inc. v. Lindley, 415 N.E.2d 292 (Ohio 1980), to the facts of this case. View "NASCAR Holdings, Inc. v. Testa" on Justia Law

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In this mandamus case in which Appellant challenged an order of the Industrial Commission granting an additional award for the violation of a specific safety requirement (VSSR), the nip-point rule found in Ohio Admin. Code 4123:1-5-11(D)(10)(a) did not apply. The Commission determined that Appellant had violated the nip-point rule, thereby causing an industrial injury to Duane Ashworth. The court of appeals denied Appellant’s request for a writ. The Supreme Court reversed and issued a writ of mandamus ordering the Commission to issue a new order that denies Ashworth’s application for a VSSR award, holding that the nip-point rule did not apply because an administrative code provision applicable to the rubber and plastics industry expressly covered the machine that Ashworth was operating. For the Commission to require Appellant to comply with the nip-point rule, it must ignore this provision, and the Commission’s failure to apply the provision was not reasonable and thus an abuse of its discretion. View "State ex rel. 31, Inc. v. Industrial Commission of Ohio" on Justia Law

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Home Advocate Trustees, LLC (HAT) engaged in the unauthorized practice of law by providing legal counsel to Ohio residents whose Ohio real property was in foreclosure, as charged in a complaint by the Ohio State Bar Association. A panel of the Board of Commissioners on the Unauthorized Practice of law granted default judgment against HAT and recommended that the Supreme Court issue an injunction prohibiting HAT from engaging in further acts of the unauthorized practice of law and impose a civil penalty. The Board adopted the panel’s findings and recommendation. The Supreme Court adopted the Board’s findings of fact and determination that HAT engaged in the unauthorized practice of law, adopted the Board’s recommendation that an injunction prohibiting HAT from attempting to represent the legal interests of others performing legal services in Ohio, and agreed that HAT’s conduct warranted the imposition of civil penalties. View "Ohio State Bar Ass'n v. Home Advocate Trustees, L.L.C." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Board of Tax Appeals (BTA) dismissing the appeal of a group of Landowners challenging the tax commissioner’s journal entries that set forth current agricultural-use values (CAUVs) that county auditors use to value farmland for tax purposes. In this, the Landowners’ second appeal, the Landowners argued that the CAUV journal entries are rules subject to the rulemaking requirements of Ohio Rev. Code 119. The BTA dismissed the appeal, determining that it did not have jurisdiction over the appeal. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the BTA incorrectly stated that it did not have jurisdiction over the Landowners’ rule-review appeal because Ohio Rev. Code 5703.14 plainly authorizes an injured party to challenge a rule issued by the tax commissioner on the basis that it is unreasonable; but (2) because the Landowners did not make any showing that the rules were unreasonable, it was proper for the BTA to dismiss their appeal. View "Adams v. Testa" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reinstated the appeal of a group of landowners challenging the tax commissioner’s journal entry that set forth a table assigning per-acre values to different types of agricultural land, holding that the Board of Tax Appeals (BTA) had jurisdiction to review the journal entry and therefore erred in dismissing the appeal. In dismissing the appeal, the BTA concluded that it id not have jurisdiction under Ohio Rev. Code 5717.02 to consider an appeal of the journal entry because the journal entry was not a “final determination.” The BTA also concluded that the journal entry was not a “rule.” The Supreme Court reversed the BTA’s dismissal of the appeal and remanded the cause for further proceedings, holding (1) the journal entry is not a rule and thus is not subject to challenge under statutory provisions dealing with rulemaking; but (2) the journal entry is a “final determination,” which the BTA has jurisdiction to review. View "Adams v. Testa" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Board of Tax Appeals (BTA) affirming the Board of Revision’s (BOR) valuation of the subject property in this case, concluding that the Board of Education (BOE) had not overcome the presumption that a July 2010 sale of the property was not an arm’s-length transaction. In a related case, the Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the BTA ruling that the sale of the subject property and related assets for $43 million in July 2010 did not establish the true value of the property for tax year 2010. The court held that the BTA reasonably and lawfully valued the real property at $13,800,000 - the 2010 appraised value submitted by the property owner. This case involved the same parties, the same property, the same sale, and the same appraisal report but related to tax year 2012. In this appeal, the BOE argued that the July 2010 sale was a recent arm’s-length transaction determining the value of the real property. The Supreme Court held (1) the school board’s reliance on the sale price in this case was barred under the doctrine of collateral estoppel; and (2) the BTA reasonably and lawfully adopted the appraiser’s 2012 valuation. View "Warrensville Heights City School District Board of Education v. Cuyahoga County Board of Revision" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Board of Tax Appeals (BTA) reversing the decision of the Board of Revision (BOR) and reinstating the auditor’s tax-year-2011 valuation of the subject property at $1,550,000. Appellant filed a valuation complaint, and the BOR reduced the value of the property to $300,000. The BTA found that the record did not support the BOR’s decision to reduce the subject property’s value and reinstated the auditor’s valuation. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the BTA did not violate the rule stated in Bedford Board of Education v. Cuyahoga County Board of Revision, 875 N.E.2d 913, by reinstating the auditor’s valuation. View "Olentangy Local Schools Board of Education v. Delaware County Board of Revision" on Justia Law

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In this real-property valuation case, the Supreme Court reversed the decision of the Board of Tax Appeals (BTA) that San Diego Real Estate Investments, LLC’s (SD REI) complaint seeking to reduce the county auditor’s tax-year-2010 valuation of the subject property was jurisdictionally valid. SD REI’s complaint alleged that the value of the subject property should be reduced from $90,400 to $26,000. The Board of Revision (BOR) reduced the property’s value to $26,000 for tax year 2010. The Board of Education (BOE) appealed to the BTA. Thereafter, the BOE requested that the BTA remand the matter to the BOR with instructions to dismiss the complaint and reinstate the auditor’s valuation, asserting that SD REI’s complaint failed to invoke the BOR’s jurisdiction because the complaint was filed by an individual lacking the requisite authority. The BTA denied the request and ruled that the property’s value should be $26,000 for tax years 2010 through 2013. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded the cause to the BTA with instructions to dismiss the complaint, holding that the complaint was jurisdictionally defective. View "Columbus City Schools Board of Education v. Franklin County Board of Revision" on Justia Law