Articles Posted in Government & Administrative Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court dismissing this action brought by the Board of Commissioners of Union County (Union County) seeking a declaratory judgment and an injunction against the Commissioner of the Indiana Department of Transportation and the Department itself (collectively, INDOT). In the action, Union County alleged that INDOT was negligent in its highway repair efforts, causing damage to the septic systems of three landowners in Union County. The trial court granted INDOT's motion to dismiss, concluding that Union County did not have standing to sue INDOT for injury done to its residents. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court did not err in dismissing the action because Union County failed to plead any viable theory of standing to support its alleged cause of action. View "Board of Commissioners of Union County v. McGuinness" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the trial court’s order directing the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission to grant Spirited Sales, LLC’s (Spirited) application for a liquor wholesaler’s permit and reinstated the Commission’s order denying the permit. Spirited was a wholly owned by a parent company called E.F. Transit, Inc. (EFT), which transports beer, wine, and liquor throughout the state. The same shareholders that owned EFT also wholly owned Monarch Beverage Company, Inc, an Indiana company that held a beer and wine wholesaler’s permit. The Commission denied Spirited’s application on the grounds that EFT and Monarch operated as the same company. The trial court reversed, finding the Commission’s order to be arbitrary and capricious. The Supreme Court agreed with the Commission, holding that the Commission’s denial conformed with the clear and unambiguous language of Ind. Code 7.1-1-2-1 and that the Commission did not act arbitrarily or capriciously in denying Spirited’s request. View "Indiana Alcohol & Tobacco Commission v. Spirited Sales, LLC" on Justia Law

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Kristy Burnell’s driver’s license was administratively suspended on the grounds that Burnell failed to submit to a chemical test. Burnell sought judicial review. The trial court declined to set aside the suspension, concluding that the arresting officer correctly determined Burnell’s behavior to constitute a refusal. Burnell appealed, arguing that she never verbally refused to take a chemical test and that her conduct did not constitute refusal to submit to a chemical test. The Court of Appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that a reasonable person in the officer’s position would be justified in believing that Burnell manifested an unwillingness to submit to the test. View "Burnell v. State" on Justia Law

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Pursuant to 2011 amendments to statutes addressing collective bargaining for teachers and their employees, when parties failed to reach a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) regarding salaries and wages, the Indiana Education Employment Relations Board (IEERB) appoints a mediator. If the mediation fails, the parties must exchange their last best offers (LBOs). A factfinder appointed by the IEERB then selects which side’s LBO to adopt as the CBA. In this case, a teachers association appealed a factfinder’s decision to adopt a school’s LBO. The IEERB affirmed the factfinder’s decision. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the adopted LBO was collectively bargained and lawful. View "Jay Classroom Teachers Ass’n v. Jay School Corp." on Justia Law

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In an effort to benefit from a growing customer base in Hamilton County, Ed Martin Toyota requested, and Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. planned to approve, that Ed Martin relocate from its Anderson, Madison County location, where it operated for several years, to the Fishers area. Prior to the move, Toyota informed its other new motor vehicle dealerships in the region, including Andy Mohr Toyota, Butler Toyota, and Tom Wood Toyota (“Dealers”), and it filed the relocation plan with the Auto Dealer Services Division of the Office of the Indiana Secretary of State (“Division”). Those three dealerships protested the relocation. The Auto Dealer Services Division dismissed their action for lack of standing—affirmed by the trial court, concluding the dealerships were outside the “relevant market area,” as defined by the Indiana Dealer Services Act. Finding that the Division's interpretation of that statutory definition was reasonable, the Supreme Court affirmed the Division's decision. View "Andy Mohr West v. Ind. Secretary of State, Auto Dealer Services Div." on Justia Law

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In 2007, the Brown County Board of Commissioners enacted an ordinance that established a county-wide fire protection district. In 2008, the newly elected Board enacted an ordinance purporting to dissolve the district. The Court of Appeals concluded that the Board lacked the authority to unilaterally dissolve the district by ordinance absent a petition process. In 2011, the Board amended the ordinance. Several county landowners sued various commissioners and the Board of Trustees, Brown County Fire Protection District seeking a declaration that the amendments were void. The trial court granted summary judgment to the landowners, concluding that the amending ordinance was not a valid exercise of the Board’s authority. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the amended ordinance was a valid exercise of the authority of the Brown County Board of Commissioners. View "Anderson v. Gaudin" on Justia Law

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The State filed a complaint against Defendant seeking forfeiture of her 1996 Buick Century automobile under the provisions of the Civil Forfeiture Statute, which provides in relevant part that a vehicle may be seized if it is used or is intended for use by the person in possession of it to facilitate the transportation of stolen property. On cross-motions for summary judgment the trial court deemed the vehicle forfeited and awarded the vehicle to the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the State was not entitled to forfeiture of the vehicle because it failed to demonstrate that Defendant was “in possession” of the vehicle as contemplated by the Civil Forfeiture Statute. View "Sargent v. State" on Justia Law

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Mrs. Bridgewater, a Fishers Adolescent Catholic Enrichment Society, Inc. (FACES) member parent, filed a complaint with the Indiana Civil Rights Commission, alleging that FACES refused a reasonable accommodation for her allergic daughter by not serving her beef instead of chicken at a social event, therefore discriminating against her due to her disability. FACES subsequently expelled the Bridgewater family. Mrs. Bridgewater then filed a second complaint with the Commission, alleging that FACES unlawfully retaliated against her family for filing the disability discrimination claim. FACES filed a motion to dismiss on the basis that the Commission did not have subject-matter jurisdiction because FACES was a religious organization, not an educational one. The Commission denied the motion to dismiss and awarded judgment in favor of Mrs. Bridgewater on the retaliatory discrimination claim. The Supreme Court vacated the Commission’s final order, holding that the Commission lacked authority to take any action other than the dismissal of these claims because the incident giving rise to the claims was not related to education and was thus not within the Commission’s prerequisite statutory authority. Remanded to grant FACES’s motion to dismiss as to both claims. View "Fishers Adolescent Catholic Enrichment Soc’y, Inc. v. Bridgewater" on Justia Law

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The Indiana Department of Insurance Commissioner reviewed the practices of First American Title Insurance Company, resulting in the generation of a report. Six weeks after the deadline for taking action regarding the report, the Commissioner called for a hearing and appointed an administrative judge. First American filed a petition seeking judicial review of the Commissioner’s order. The Commissioner moved to dismiss the petition on grounds that First American failed to submit the agency record as required by the Administrative Orders and Procedures Act (AOPA). The trial court denied the Commissioner’s motion to dismiss but also denied First American’s petition for judicial review on grounds that First American failed to show that it was prejudiced by the untimely order. Both parties appealed. On cross-appeal, the Commissioner argued, in part, that First American’s petition for judicial review should have been dismissed because First American did not submit an agency record. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the trial court erred in declining to grant the Commissioner’s motion to dismiss the petition in light of First American’s failure to file the agency record with the trial court, as a petitioner for review cannot receive consideration of its petition where the statutorily-defined agency record has not been filed. View "First Am. Title Ins. Co. v. Robertson" on Justia Law

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One year after the Indiana Department of Education and the Indiana State Board of Education (collectively, “DOE”) approved Teaching Our Posterity Success, Inc. (“TOPS”) as a Supplemental Educational Services provider, the DOE removed TOPS from its list of approved providers. TOPS sought administrative review of that removal. In response, DOE sent TOPS a letter declaring that TOPS will remain removed from the provider list. TOPS filed a petition for judicial review but did not file an official agency record. The trial court dismissed TOPS’ petition on the grounds of its failure to file a timely and complete agency record. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) a petitioner seeking judicial review of an agency action must file with the trial court the agency record as defined by the Administrative Orders and Procedures Act (AOPA); and (2) because TOPS did not file the agency record as anticipated by the AOPA, the trial court properly dismissed its petition for judicial review. View "Teaching Our Posterity Success, Inc. v. Ind. Dep’t of Educ." on Justia Law