Articles Posted in Oregon Supreme Court

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Initiative Petition (IP) 28, if enacted, would modify Article I, section 8, of the Oregon Constitution to permit either a legislative body or the people exercising their initiative power to regulate campaign contributions and expenditures. In this case’s first trip to the Oregon Supreme Court, the ballot title for IP 28 the Attorney General for modification. The Attorney General filed a modified ballot title, and the two sets of petitioners who challenged the original ballot title challenged the modified title. Among other things, petitioners challenged the ballot title’s unqualified use of the word “regulate.” They noted, and we agreed, that “the word ‘regulate,’ when used in the context of regulating expressive activity, can encompass a range of different types of regulations.” Petitioners objected to the modified ballot title, arguing among other things that it failed to comply with the Supreme Court’s opinion because it did not signal that “regulate” was undefined. The Supreme Court agreed that the changes the Attorney General made in the caption and “yes” result statement were not sufficient. “We appreciate the difficulty that the Attorney General faces in trying to accurately describe the nuances of complex measures in a limited amount of words. However, we reiterate what we previously said: the caption and the ‘yes’ result statement should state that the word regulate is undefined.” The modified ballot title was referred to the Attorney General for modification. View "Markley/Lutz v. Rosenblum" on Justia Law

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Petitioner ACN Opportunity, LLC (ACN) sold satellite television, telephone, internet, and home security services, as well as some goods related to those services, through a network of direct-to-consumer sellers that it calls “independent business owners” (IBOs). The Employment Department determined that ACN was an employer and thus was required to pay unemployment insurance tax on earnings that ACN paid to the IBOs for their sales work. An administrative law judge (ALJ) affirmed that determination, concluding that the IBOs did not fall within the exemption from employment under ORS 657.087(2) and were not independent contractors under ORS 670.600. ACN appealed the department’s final order, and the Court of Appeals affirmed. The Oregon Supreme Court accepted review of this case primarily to address the statutory interpretation questions that this case presented. First, the Court concluded the IBOs did not qualify as independent contractors, because ACN failed to establish that the IBOs were customarily engaged in an independently established business. In reaching that conclusion, (1) the Court construed “maintains a business location” in ORS 670.600(3)(a) as the Court of Appeals did, and (2) the Supreme Court agreed with the Court of Appeals that the IBOs lacked the required authority to hire others to provide services, as provided in ORS 670.600(3)(e). Finally, the Supreme Court rejected ACN’s reading of the in-home sales exemption from employment in ORS 657.087(2) and concluded the IBOs do not fall within that exemption. As a result, the Court of Appeals’ decision and the final order of the ALJ were affirmed. View "ACN Opportunity, LLC v. Employment Dept." on Justia Law

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Two sets of petitioners challenged the Oregon Attorney General’s certified ballot title for Initiative Petition 33 (2018) (IP 33). If adopted, IP 33 would require that “government employee unions” annually report certain information to the Secretary of State, primarily how dues would be spent on union administration. Chief petitioners Schworak and Mitchell challenged the summary, while petitioners Lutz and Schwartz challenged all parts of the certified ballot title. After reviewing the petitioners’ arguments, the Oregon Supreme Court concluded that the proposed caption, the “no” result statement, and the summary did not substantially comply and must be modified. The “yes” result statement did substantially comply and did not require modification. View "Lutzv. Rosenblum" on Justia Law

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Two sets of petitioners challenged the Oregon Attorney General’s certified ballot title for Initiative Petition 33 (2018) (IP 33). If adopted, IP 33 would require that “government employee unions” annually report certain information to the Secretary of State, primarily how dues would be spent on union administration. Chief petitioners Schworak and Mitchell challenged the summary, while petitioners Lutz and Schwartz challenged all parts of the certified ballot title. After reviewing the petitioners’ arguments, the Oregon Supreme Court concluded that the proposed caption, the “no” result statement, and the summary did not substantially comply and must be modified. The “yes” result statement did substantially comply and did not require modification. View "Lutzv. Rosenblum" on Justia Law

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The Oregon Commission on Judicial Fitness and Disability filed a formal complaint alleging 13 misconduct counts against respondent, the Honorable Vance Day, involving Oregon Code of Judicial Conduct Rule 2.1; Rule 2.2; Rule 3.3(B); Rule 3.7(B); courteous to litigants); and Article VII (Amended), sections 8(1)(b), (c), and (e), of the Oregon Constitution. After conducting a hearing, the commission filed a recommendation with the Oregon Supreme Court, to the effect that clear and convincing evidence supported a conclusion that respondent had violated multiple rules with respect to eight of the counts, including violations not alleged in the complaint. The commission further recommended that respondent be removed from office. Respondent argued the Supreme Court should have dismissed all or several counts for procedural reasons; that the commission did not sufficiently prove the alleged misconduct; and, in any event, that the only appropriate sanction was a censure. After review, the Oregon Court dismissed two of the eight counts of the complaint that were at issue; the Court declined to consider any violation that the Commission did not originally allege in its complaint. The Supreme Court concluded the Commission proved by clear and convincing evidence that respondent engaged in some of the misconduct alleged in the remaining six counts. The Court suspended respondent, without pay, for three years. View "In re Day" on Justia Law

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The Oregon Commission on Judicial Fitness and Disability filed a formal complaint alleging 13 misconduct counts against respondent, the Honorable Vance Day, involving Oregon Code of Judicial Conduct Rule 2.1; Rule 2.2; Rule 3.3(B); Rule 3.7(B); courteous to litigants); and Article VII (Amended), sections 8(1)(b), (c), and (e), of the Oregon Constitution. After conducting a hearing, the commission filed a recommendation with the Oregon Supreme Court, to the effect that clear and convincing evidence supported a conclusion that respondent had violated multiple rules with respect to eight of the counts, including violations not alleged in the complaint. The commission further recommended that respondent be removed from office. Respondent argued the Supreme Court should have dismissed all or several counts for procedural reasons; that the commission did not sufficiently prove the alleged misconduct; and, in any event, that the only appropriate sanction was a censure. After review, the Oregon Court dismissed two of the eight counts of the complaint that were at issue; the Court declined to consider any violation that the Commission did not originally allege in its complaint. The Supreme Court concluded the Commission proved by clear and convincing evidence that respondent engaged in some of the misconduct alleged in the remaining six counts. The Court suspended respondent, without pay, for three years. View "In re Day" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District (TriMet), sought a declaration that planned, future collective bargaining sessions between TriMet’s bargaining team and the bargaining team for defendant Amalgamated Transit Union Local 757 (ATU) would not be “meetings” subject to the open meetings requirements of Oregon’s Public Meetings Law, ORS 192.610 to ORS 192.695. ATU opposed the declaration, and the parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment. The trial court agreed with TriMet and granted its motion, but the Court of Appeals vacated and remanded, reasoning that, even if the bargaining sessions were not “meetings” as that term was defined in the Public Meetings Law, ORS 192.610(5), when the TriMet team participates in the sessions, it may be subject to the prohibition in ORS 192.630(2) that, generally: “A quorum of a governing body may not meet in private for the purpose of deciding on or deliberating toward a decision on any matter[.]” The Oregon Supreme Court concluded the Court of Appeals’ construction of that statute was correct, and TriMet failed to establish, on this summary judgment record, that no “quorum” of the TriMet team would “meet” during the negotiations; thus, TriMet failed to establish as a matter of law that the bargaining sessions at issue will not be subject to ORS 192.630(2). Finally, the Supreme Court rejected ATU’s proposal that another provision of the Public Meetings Law, ORS 192.660(3), required that all bargaining sessions of a public body be conducted in an “open meeting” unless both parties consent to private meetings. View "TriMet v. Amalgamated Transit Union Local 757" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District (TriMet), sought a declaration that planned, future collective bargaining sessions between TriMet’s bargaining team and the bargaining team for defendant Amalgamated Transit Union Local 757 (ATU) would not be “meetings” subject to the open meetings requirements of Oregon’s Public Meetings Law, ORS 192.610 to ORS 192.695. ATU opposed the declaration, and the parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment. The trial court agreed with TriMet and granted its motion, but the Court of Appeals vacated and remanded, reasoning that, even if the bargaining sessions were not “meetings” as that term was defined in the Public Meetings Law, ORS 192.610(5), when the TriMet team participates in the sessions, it may be subject to the prohibition in ORS 192.630(2) that, generally: “A quorum of a governing body may not meet in private for the purpose of deciding on or deliberating toward a decision on any matter[.]” The Oregon Supreme Court concluded the Court of Appeals’ construction of that statute was correct, and TriMet failed to establish, on this summary judgment record, that no “quorum” of the TriMet team would “meet” during the negotiations; thus, TriMet failed to establish as a matter of law that the bargaining sessions at issue will not be subject to ORS 192.630(2). Finally, the Supreme Court rejected ATU’s proposal that another provision of the Public Meetings Law, ORS 192.660(3), required that all bargaining sessions of a public body be conducted in an “open meeting” unless both parties consent to private meetings. View "TriMet v. Amalgamated Transit Union Local 757" on Justia Law

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In 2005, the child who was the focus of this proceeding was born. He had an autism spectrum disorder, developmental delays, including speech delays, and other significant health issues. In 2010, when the child was five years old, his mother and father divorced. Mother had been his primary caretaker, and she was awarded sole legal custody. In 2015, when the child was 10 years old, the Oregon Department of Human Services investigated reports that mother was neglecting the child’s basic needs and risking his safety by allowing him to have contact with her significant other, L. The department issued a “founded disposition” based on its administrative determination that mother had neglected the child through a “[l]ack of supervision and protection.” The department then filed a petition to obtain dependency jurisdiction over the child. When a parent appeals a jurisdictional judgment making the Department the legal custodian of the parent’s child and that wardship is subsequently terminated, the department may file a motion to dismiss the appeal as moot. In this case, the Oregon Supreme Court concluded termination of such a wardship did not necessarily render the appeal moot; whether dismissal is appropriate will depend on the particular circumstances presented. In this case, the Supreme Court concluded the department met its burden to prove that a jurisdictional judgment would have no practical effect on the rights of the parties and was therefore moot. View "Dept. of Human Services v. A. B." on Justia Law

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The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit certified a certified question of Oregon law to the Oregon Supreme Court. The question related to claims under ORS 124.110 for financial abuse of “vulnerable persons” (here, elderly persons) who purchased long-term care insurance from defendant Bankers Life & Casualty Co. (Bankers) and sought to receive insurance benefits under their policies. Specifically, the Ninth Circuit asked whether a plaintiff states a claim under ORS 124.110(1)(b) for wrongful withholding of money or property where it is alleged that an insurance company has in bad faith delayed the processing of claims and refused to pay benefits owed under an insurance contract. Plaintiffs were elderly Oregonians or their successors who purchased long-term healthcare insurance policies sold by Bankers and its parent company. Plaintiffs alleged Bankers developed onerous procedures to delay and deny insurance claims: failing to answer phone calls, losing documents, denying claims without notifying policyholders, denying claims for reasons that did not comport with Oregon law, and paying policyholders less than what they were owed under their policies. Bankers allegedly collected premium payments and, without good cause, delayed and denied insurance benefits to which Plaintiffs were entitled. The Oregon Supreme Court answered in the negative: allegations that an insurance company, in bad faith, delayed the processing of claims and refused to pay benefits owed to vulnerable persons under an insurance contract do not state a claim under ORS 124.110(1)(b) for wrongful withholding of “money or property.” View "Bates v. Bankers Life and Casualty Co." on Justia Law