Articles Posted in Government & Administrative Law

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Boasso American Corporation appealed an adverse decision by the Zoning Administrator for the City of Chesapeake to the Board of Zoning Appeals. The Board affirmed. Boasso then filed a petition for writ of certiorari. The Zoning Administrator moved to dismiss on the ground that Boasso had failed to name or serve the City Council for the City of Chesapeake, a necessary party by statute. Boasso then sought leave to amend to include the City Council and the City Attorney. The Acting City Clerk, on behalf of the Mayor, moved to quash service of process and filed a plea in bar arguing that Boasso’s failure to name or serve the City Council within thirty days of the Board’s decision was fatal to the petition. The circuit court dismissed Boasso’s petition with prejudice. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) a litigant who appeals the judgment of a board of zoning appeals under Va. Code 15.2-2314 must identify the governing body as a necessary party in the petition and must do so within thirty days of the board’s final decision; and (2) if those requirements are not met, the circuit court lacks the discretion to permit amendment of the petition and, if asked, must dismiss the case for lack of a necessary party. View "Boasso America Corp. v. Zoning Administrator of the City of Chesapeake" on Justia Law

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The Tax Commissioner of Virginia directed Chesterfield County to issue refunds to Verizon Online LLC for local taxes it paid for tax years 2008, 2009 and 2010 on set top boxes it owned. The circuit court upheld the Tax Commissioner’s determination that the set top boxes were not subject to local taxation but concluded that Verizon was not entitled to refunds for tax years 2008 and 2009 due to its failure to file a timely appeal with the local commissioner of revenue. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) the circuit court did not err in ruling that Verizon’s set top boxes are not subject to local taxation; but (2) the issue of the timeliness of Verizon’s local appeal was not preserved for review by the circuit court, and therefore, the circuit court erred in ruling that Verizon was not entitled to refunds for tax years 2008 and 2009. View "Verizon Online LLC v. Horbal" on Justia Law

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Western Refining Yorktown, Inc. was the owner of a refinery that was subject to the machinery and tools tax. Western challenged the Commissioner of Revenue’s 2010 and 2011 assessments in the circuit court. The trial court upheld the valuation of the refinery’s machinery and tools for purposes of levying the machinery and tools tax, concluding that Western did not carry its burden of proof to show that the property in question was valued at more than its fair market value. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the trial court did not err in upholding the assessment; and (2) the County of York did not assume inconsistent positions in successive litigation. View "Western Refining Yorktown v. County of York" on Justia Law

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Miller & Rhoads Building, LLC (MRB) purchased a building that was subject to a city-wide real estate tax and an annual special district tax. MRB sought a partial exemption from real estate taxes for the property under the City of Richmond’s Tax Abatement for Rehabilitated Real Estate Program (the Partial Exemption). The City applied the Partial Exemption to the base real estate tax but refused to apply it to the special district tax. MRB paid the special district taxes under protest and brought an action to correct the alleged erroneous assessments. At issue at trial was whether the Partial Exemption also applied to the City’s computation of the special district tax. The trial court ruled in favor of the City, concluding that the Partial Exemption did not apply to the special district tax. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the special district tax, while a real estate tax, is a different type of real estate tax that is not subject to the Partial Exemption. View "Miller & Rhoads Bldg., LLC v. City of Richmond" on Justia Law

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These consolidated appeals arose from a Va. Code Ann. 56-542(D) investigation by the State Corporation Commission of the tolls charged by Toll Road Investors Partnership II, LP for the Dulles Greenway, a privately owned toll road located primarily in Loudoun County. The Board of Supervisors of Loudoun County and David Ramadan (collectively, Appellants) requested that the Commission reduce the tolls. After concluding the investigation, the Commission issued an order in which it decided not to substitute new toll rates for the Greenway under the authority of section 56-542(D). The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the Commission did not err in its construction and application of section 56-542(D); and (2) the Commission did not err in its factual findings that the Greenway’s existing toll rates satisfy the section 56-542(D) criteria while Appellants’ proposed rates did not. View "Bd. of Supervisors of Loudoun County v. State Corp. Comm’n" on Justia Law

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Virginia Electric and Power Company (VEPCO) operated a gas-fired electric general station located in the City of Richmond. The City assessed tax for natural gas consumed at the station. VEPCO challenged the assessments, arguing that it was not subject to the tax. The Tax Commissioner affirmed the City’s decision that VEPCO was subject to the tax. VEPCO appealed, arguing that it was not subject to the tax because its consumption was outside the scope of Va. Code Ann. 58.1-3814(H). The circuit court concluded that VEPCO was not subject to the tax because it consumed natural gas at the station to generate electricity, rather than to furnish heat or light. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not err in its interpretation of section 58.1-3814(H). View "City of Richmond v. Va. Elec. & Power Co." on Justia Law

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Andrews, a senior property manager of a public housing complex, challenged the termination of her employment with the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority (RRHA) through RRHA’s grievance procedure. A hearing officer ordered her reinstatement snf advised that, under the terms of RRHA’s Grievance Policy, “[e]ither party may . . . appeal the decision to the Circuit Court of the City of Richmond, Virginia.” The circuit court reversed that decision as “‘contradictory to law’” under Code 2.2-3006. The Supreme Court of Virginia reinstated the hearing officer’s decision, holding that the circuit court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to hear RRHA’s appeal. Either party may appeal a hearing officer’s decision to a circuit court for review on grounds that it is “contradictory to law,” Code 2.2-3006(B), but no such right is available when the challenge to the decision presents a question whether it is“consistent with policy,” RRHA did not make a prima facie showing for invoking judicial review of the hearing officer’s decision under Code 2.2-3006(B) because the substance of RRHA’s appeal challenged only the hearing officer’s interpretation and application of RRHA’s policies. View "Andrews v. Richmond Redevelopment & Housing Auth." on Justia Law

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Pike underwent complex surgery at Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center to reconstruct the back of his mouth and was taken, for recovery, to the Surgical Trauma Intensive Care Unit. Unit patients are often in very critical condition and each nurse is responsible for two patients at most. Following a surgery such as Pike’s, it is important to keep the patient’s head stable to enable blood to flow. Pike's doctors did not write any orders specifically governing the position of his head or neck. A surgeon at the hospital testified that he would rely on the skill and expertise of the nurse to position the patient’s head. Five days after the surgery, Pike was found in a position that would cause “venous compromise.” The staff was instructed to avoid this practice. That afternoon, Pike’s physician found Pike again in that position, his face and neck massively swollen. Pike had to undergo further surgery, which was not successful. Pike's malpractice complaint was dismissed on the basis of sovereign immunity. Pike argued that Hagaman, a registered nurse, was not entitled to sovereign immunity. The Supreme Court of Virginia affirmed, noting that Hagaman’s discretion was cabined by physicians’ orders, that she could not refuse to accept a particular patient, that the hospital “had a high degree of control over Hagaman," who was supervised by senior staff, and that she was subject to hospital policies. The hospital pays her wages and determines her schedule. View "Pike v. Hagaman" on Justia Law

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EMAC, LLC filed a declaratory judgment action against the County of Hanover and the Board of Supervisors of the County of Hanover (collectively, Defendants) challenging the Board’s decision to deny EMAC’s application for an extension of a conditional use permit. The circuit court granted Defendants’ demurrer and motion to dismiss, concluding (1) EMAC was required to prove that the existing zoning ordinance was unreasonable as applied to its property and that it failed to allege any facts to satisfy this requirement; and (2) the Board’s decision denying EMAC’s extension request was supported by a rational basis and was fairly debatable. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) in ruling upon Defendants’ demurrer and motion to dismiss, the court properly interpreted the allegations in the amended complaint and the exhibits attached to it; (2) the circuit court erred in finding that EMAC was required to allege that the existing zoning ordinance was unreasonable as applied to its land in order to state a cause of action; but (3) the circuit court did not err in sustaining the demurrer on the ground that EMAC’s extension request was supported by a rational basis and was fairly debatable. View "EMAC, LLC v. County of Hanover" on Justia Law

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Two weeks after Preston McKellar announced that he would be retiring as a structural welder for Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding, McKeller was injured during the course of his employment. Two weeks later, McKeller retired as scheduled. McKeller filed a claim against Northrop Grumman seeking medical benefits and temporary total disability compensation. A deputy commissioner with the Virginia Worker’s Compensation Commission awarded medical benefits as well as temporary total disability benefits. The Commission affirmed the award of medical benefits but denied the claim for temporary total disability benefits. The Court of Appeals affirmed, concluding that McKellar’s retirement, rather than his injury, caused his loss of compensation because the record supported the Commission’s finding that McKellar intended to retire and not seek other employment income. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the deputy commissioner correctly found that McKeller was entitled to temporary total disability compensation because he was totally disabled and lacked all earning capacity. View "McKellar v. Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding" on Justia Law