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SOUTH-WESTERN LEGAL STUDIES IN BUSINESS CASE UPDATES—ADMINISTRATIVE LAW
SW Legal's Case Updates is a SW Legal Studies service to provide briefs of the latest state and federal court cases. Review the summaries and, for cases of interest, select the case brief. If you cannot find a case of interest, return to Topic Index .
Title
Summary
Commission Could Use Judgment about Fiscal Responsibility of Liquor License Applicant
Briefed Case
Connecticut appeals court held that the state liquor commission decided properly within its authority not to renew a liquor license. The license holder must be fiscally responsible. The license holder here was not, as he did not pay taxes on behalf of people who worked for him.
(Updated June 2010)
State Licensing Procedure Cannot Conflict with State Law Regarding Licensing
Briefed Case
Ohio appeals court held that a state agency that issued licenses for loan officers was more restrictive than the statute upon which the license procedure was based. Regulatory process cannot conflict with statutory requirements, so the procedure was stricken.
(Updated March 2010)
Public Transportation System in Compliance with Federal Law Cannot Be Forced to Provide Special Services for Certain Disabled Passengers
Briefed Case
Federal appeals court held that a public transit system, as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act, was in compliance with federal public transportation regulations regarding services for disabled passengers. As such, it could not be required to provide special services as requested by one disabled person who demanded special services beyond those provided.
(Updated February 2010)
Gambling Casino May Not Deviate from Gaming Regulations Set by State
Briefed Case
Appeals court held that gambling casinos are subject to detailed regulations about how gambling is to be operated. Casinos may not change the rules, such as eject gamblers who are successful because of their skill.
(Updated January 2010)
IRS Notice Was Final Agency Action Subject to Court Review
Briefed Case

Appeals court held that a notice issued by the IRS about how to resolve a tax refund issue was a final notice from the agency on a much disputed matter. Since it was a final notice, it could be contested in court. Complaining parties did not have to challenge the matter within the agency first.
(Updated September 2009)

Misinterpretation of Contract Law Negates Commission Finding
Briefed Case

Mississippi high court held that a decision of a state commission could not stand because it improperly interpreted contract law that governed the dispute in question. While deference is given to administrative commissions, their decisions can be overturned if they are contrary to law.
(Updated April 2009)

Agencies Given Broad Regulatory Authority May Use that Power
Briefed Case

Oregon appeals court upheld regulations issued by the state Fish and Wildlife Department to restrict crab fishing. The legislature gave the Department wide authority to do so. If the regulations happened to harm the livelihood of some crab fishers, that did not affect the validity of the rules.
(Updated December 2008)

Repeated Violation of Regulation Becomes Willful
Briefed Case

Appeals court upheld the loss of a federal license needed by a dealer to sell firearms. The dealer was found on more than one occasion to fail to comply with record-keeping requirements. Multiple mistakes meant willful violation and loss of license.
(Updated December 2008)

Economic Loss No Reason for Waiver from State Ban on Smoking in a Business
Briefed Case

Nebraska high court held that a business owner who claimed financial ruin by compliance with the state’s ban on smoking in his business was not due a waiver from the rule. The law does not allow consideration of financial injury as a reason for a waiver.
(Updated September 2008)

Same Rights Do Not Apply to Administrative Search Warrants as to Criminal Warrants
Briefed Case

Appeals court held that the standards for administrative search warrants are different than for criminal warrants. A party subject to an administrative warrant has no constitutional right to challenge the warrant in court before the warrant is executed.
(Updated June 2008)

No Stay of Pending Regulation Unless Complaining Party May Win on Appeal
Briefed Case

Federal court held that it would not issue a temporary injunction against enforcement of a city ordinance requiring nutrition information to be put on restaurant menus pending an appeal of the legality of the ordinance.
(Updated May 2008)

Courts Defer To Agency Expertise in Absence of Conflict with Legislative Meaning
Briefed Case

Appeals court upheld the decision of a workers’ compensation board. The court noted that the board’s interpretation of the law was not inconsistent with the plain meaning of the law, so the court must defer to its decision.
(Updated April 2008)

Agency Must Provide All Documents Requested Under Right-to-Know Law
Briefed Case

New Hampshire high court held that a state agency violated the state Right-to-Know Law by not providing public documents when requested.
(Updated November 2007)

Punishing Broadcaster for One “Fleeting Expletive” Was Arbitrary and Capricious
Briefed Case

Appeals court vacated an agency finding of liability by a TV network fined for broadcasting the f-word. The agency showed no consistency in its application of its policy against obscene and indecent broadcasts.
(Updated September 2007)

Agency Interpretation and Enforcement Upheld as Not Contrary to Law
Briefed Case

Appeals court held that an agency's interpretation of when farm land is a wetland was consistent with the statute the agency upheld. The agency's determination that the regulation had been violated was also executed properly, so it will be upheld.
(Updated August 2007)

Oral Agreement to Find Property Seller Not a Listing Agreement under Administrative Rule
Briefed Case

Iowa high court held that when a property owner asked a real estate agent to find a buyer for his business in private, there was an oral contract governing the agency that did not fall under the state administrative rule requiring property listings to be in writing to be effective. Listed properties are public information. This was not.
(Updated May 2007)

Regulators Followed Statutory Guidelines; Did Not Need Further Risk Assessment
Briefed Case

Appeals court upheld a USDA regulation to allow the importation of citrus from Spain, which had previously been barred due to infestation by destructive insects. Challenges by domestic fruit growers were rejected as USDA followed statutory guidelines and had no obligation to do further risk assessment as contended by opponents.
(Updated January 2007)

Decision to Revoke Contractor's License Subject to Judicial Review
Briefed Case

Courts have the power of judicial review over agency decisions once an agency has completed its determinations of a matter. If an agency fails to call its determination an order or decision, it does not mean that the agency has not finished with the matter so that it is ripe for review.
(Updated August 2006)

Courts Must Defer to Reasonable Interpretation of Statutes by Agencies
Briefed Case

Appeals court held that the Department of Labor had the right to change a regulation enforcing a 40-year-old statute so long as the interpretation was reasonable given the language of the statute and was supported by reasoned analysis.
(Updated August 2006)

State Regulations of Highway Wrecker Service Proper
Briefed Case

North Carolina appeals court held that the state was not preempted by federal law from regulating highway safety and had properly authorized the Highway Patrol to regulate qualifications for wreckers that would be called to accident scenes.
(Updated July 2006)

Interpretive Regulations Not Binding
Briefed Case

Washington high court held that agencies that have the power to write and enforce legislative regulations have the power to write interpretive regulations. However, such regulations are not binding, they are only advisory to the public and the courts.
(Updated November 2005)

When Authorized by State, Local Governments May Adopt State Standards
Briefed Case

Appeals court held that a town had the right to adopt state motor vehicle standards, in part or in whole, since the legislature authorized local governments to do so. The town was not required to post notice on its roads that it had adopted state standards in order to enforce the law.
(Updated August 2005)

Portions of Regulation Inconsistent with Intent of Congress Stricken
Briefed Case
Appeals court held that parts of a regulation governing the marketing of organic foods violated the standards set by Congress in a statute governing organic foods. Due to the inconsistency, those regulations would be stricken and not be allowed to go into force.
(Updated July 2005)
Scam Promoter Has No Right to Judicial Review
Briefed Case
Appeals court held that the courts have no jurisdiction over a complaint by a scam promoter who was indirectly mentioned in a warning by a federal agency about scams. Since the promoter was not subject to formal action by the agency, there was nothing for the courts to consider.
(Updated March 2005)
Agency Process Proper in Taking Aircraft Mechanic's Certification
Briefed Case
Appeals court held that the process used by a federal agency to require certain airline employees to pass drug tests was proper. The failure of a mechanic to provide a urine sample in the required time was grounds for him to lose his work certification as the agency acted within its expertise.
(Updated December 2004)
Agency Report Not Subject to Judicial Review
Briefed Case
Appeals court held that an EPA report that labeled secondhand tobacco smoke as a carcinogen is not subject to judicial review because the report has no regulatory consequence. Courts may only review agency actions that are final and create legal rights or burdens.
(Updated June 2003)
Administrative Procedures Must Be Exhausted Before Appeals to Court
Briefed Case
Washington state high court held that the challenge by environmental groups to state forestry regulations could not be heard until the groups exhausted the administrative procedures that must be followed when it is contended that a regulation violates the requirement of a statute.
(Updated May 2003)
Court May Not Review Administrative Determination Until Administrative Appeals Exhausted
Briefed Case
Appeals court refused to hear an appeal from an employer that OSHA violated the Fourth Amendment by certain administrative procedures. Until all administrative reviews of the employer's appeals are exhausted, the courts do not have jurisdiction to hear the matter.
(Updated March 2003)
Private Organization Code of Ethics May Be Adopted by Regulatory Board
Briefed Case
North Carolina appeals court held it was not an unconstitutional delegation for the North Carolina legislature to allow a state board to regulate the psychology profession and for the Board to adopt the ethical code of the American Psychology Association, a private organization.
(Updated February 2003)
FTC Regulation Restricting Binding Arbitration in Warranties Stricken
Briefed Case
Appeals court held that an FTC regulation prohibiting the inclusion of binding arbitration clauses in warranty terms is contrary to federal policy supporting arbitration and that nothing in the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act indicates that Congress intended to prohibit binding arbitration of warranty disputes.
(Updated February 2003)
Agency May Not Revoke Professional License for Unrelated Criminal Matters
Briefed Case
Oregon high court held that it was improper for the license of a real estate broker to be suspended because the broker was convicted of possession of drugs. The drug offense was not related to the purpose of broker regulation, which focuses on integrity in real estate dealing.
(Updated January 2003)
Agriculture Regulations May Discriminate Based on Income
Briefed Case
Appeals court upheld the Department of Agriculture regulations that distributed disaster relief partly on the basis of income. The Department did not have to provide a rationale for the rule, so long as it effected the purpose of the aid as instructed by Congress.
(Updated December, 2002)
EEOC Has Discretion to Define Disabilities Posing Risks to Employees in Employment
Briefed Case
The Supreme Court upheld the rulemaking authority of the EEOC under the Americans with Disabilities Act to allow employers certain business necessity defenses for refusing to hire disabled persons, such as when a position would pose a health or safety risk to a prospective employee.
(Updated July, 2002)
Courts Must Defer to Reasonable Agency Interpretation of Unclear Statutes
Briefed Case
Supreme Court held that the FCC's assertion that it had the authority to regulate cell phone service and high-speed Internet service was a reasonable interpretation of the federal statute that gives it authority over telecommunications services that are attached to poles. Courts must defer to agencies when their interpretation of an ambiguous statute is reasonable.
(Updated March, 2002)
OSHA's Interpretation of a Regulation Upheld
Briefed Case
Appeals court held that OSHA's interpretation of a regulation requiring that workers to be protected from breathing silica dust was upheld when challenged by an employer who contended that another method of measuring silica dust should be used. The measurement method used by OSHA was reasonable and will be accorded deference.
(Updated September 1, 2001)
Agency Can Enhance Enforcement of Existing Regulations Without Notice-and Comment
Briefed Case
Appeals court held that an agency did not have to engage in notice-and-comment rulemaking to issue new "demand letters" that were sent to firms that were failing to comply with existing regulations. Since there was no expansion of substantive rules, no additional administrative procedure was required to justify the letters.
(Updated August 1, 2001)
Customs Service Ruling Letters Due Judicial Respect, Not Chevron Deference
Briefed Case
Supreme Court held that Customs Service ruling letters on tariff classifications of imported goods are not due the judicial deference of the Chevron doctrine that applies to regulations that go through the normal review process. Letters are due judicial respect according to their care and completeness in logic.
(Updated July 1, 2001)
Congress Did Not Improperly Delegate Legislative Authority to EPA
Briefed Case
The Supreme Court held that when Congress granted the EPA power to set air quality standards, in which it gave the agency broad powers and did not require cost considerations, it did not improperly delegate its legislative authority to an agency.
(Updated March 1, 2001)
Interpretation of Vague Regulation Must Be Made Known or There Is Failure of Notice
Briefed Case
Appeals court vacated a citation issued by OSHA to a plant operator. The regulation the operator violated was vague. There was an Interpretive Letter that clarified the regulation, but the operator had no notice of the interpretation so could not be held liable for violating the regulation.
(Updated January 1, 2001)
Court Has No Jurisdiction to Review Statutory Privileges Suspended by Congress
Briefed Case
Appeals court held that federal courts did not have jurisdiction to review applications submitted by felons to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms requesting to have their right to possess firearms restored. Congress ordered the agency not to consider such applications, so none were possible and the courts could not intervene.
(Updated January 1, 2001)
Agency May Not Expand Penalties Beyond What Congress Authorizes
Briefed Case
Appeals court rejected a finding by the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission that a coal plant operator had committed a serious infraction. The infraction involved did not involve a mandatory health or safety standard violation as required by Congress for imposition of serious infractions.
(Updated February 1, 2000)
Agency May Not Expand Penalties Beyond What Congress Authorizes
Briefed Case
Appeals court rejected a finding by the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission that a coal plant operator had committed a serious infraction. The infraction involved did not involve a mandatory health or safety standard violation as required by Congress for imposition of serious infractions.
(Updated February 1, 2000)
Agency May Not, By Regulation, Impose Requirements Beyond the Intent of Congress
Briefed Case
Appeals court held invalid a regulation that expanded the Family and Medical Leave Act rights of employees beyond the rights specified by Congress in the Act itself. The agency clearly went beyond the intent of Congress in the legislation, so it exceeded its authority.
(Updated November 1, 1999)
EEOC Rule That Conflicts with Statutory Time Limit Held Invalid
Briefed Case
Appeals court held that the EEOC could not issue a regulation that directly conflicts with the words of Congress in a statute. Congress specified a 180 day waiting period before filing suits under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act; the EEOC regulation stated that it could waive the waiting period.
(Updated October 1, 1999)
Calling a Rule a Directive Does Not Eliminate Rulemaking Procedure Requirements
Briefed Case
Appeals court upheld challenge to a "Directive" issued by OSHA without rulemaking notice or comment. Such a distinction is a ruse to evade proper rulemaking.
(Updated June 1, 1999)
Auto Safety Standards Not Specific Enough To Be Basis for Recall
Briefed Case
Appeals court held that a recall of Chrysler cars sold with seat belts that failed certain safety tests was improper. The safety standard did not specify how the test was to be conducted. Government must give reasonable notice of such test details if it wants specific test methods to be followed.
(Updated April 1, 1999)
FDA Limits on Drug Maker Sponsorship of Information Distribution Too Extensive
Briefed Case
Court issued an injunction against enforcement of FDA limits on drug-maker involvement in distribution of peer-reviewed journal articles, medical textbooks, and involvement in medical education. Rules were too restrictive on right to truthful commercial speech.
(Updated October 19, 1998)
Agency Fee Structure Must Follow Congressional Mandate, Not Economic Methodology
Briefed Case
FAA's fee structure for access to US airspace was based on economic methods of estimating elasticity of demand. The court found that the FAA exceeded its authority because the statute specified cost recovery as the fee basis.
(Updated May 29, 1998)
EPA Cannot Grant Dirty Air Grace Periods
Briefed Case
Sierra Club protest of EPA grant of a one-year grace period for non-compliance with Clean Air Act standards deemed in conflict with clear language of statute by Court of Appeals.
(Updated 12-29-97)
FAA Only One Left Standing in Tug of War Over Federal Funding
Briefed Case
Illinois DOT appeal of FAA diversion of federal funding to Indiana dismissed because DOT interest deemed "too vague" to constitute standing to sue by Court of Appeals.
(Updated 9-12-97)

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