Articles Posted in Government & Administrative Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the final judgment of the Business Court that upheld the declaratory ruling issued by the North Carolina Board of Physical Therapy Examiners pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. 150B-4 determining that dry needling constitutes physical therapy, holding that the Physical Therapy Board’s decision was consistent with its enabling statutes and administrative rules. This case arose from a nearly decade-long debate over whether dry needling is confined to the practice of acupuncture. The Physical Therapy Board concluded that dry needling falls within the practice of physical therapy and issued a declaratory ruling reaffirming its conclusion that dry needling constitutes physical therapy. The Acupuncture Board appealed the ruling, and the Business Court affirmed. On appeal, the Acupuncture Board argued that dry needling is part of the practice of acupuncture rather the physical therapy. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that the Physical Therapy Board did not err in determining that dry needling is within the scope of physical therapy. View "N.C. Acupuncture Licensing Board v. N.C. Board of Physical Therapy Examiners" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the Court of Appeals affirming the decision of the North Carolina Industrial Commission awarding Plaintiff ongoing disability compensation and medical compensation for her medical conditions and remanded this case for further proceedings before the Commission, holding that it could not be determined from the record if the Commission, as the Court of Appeals concluded, made findings of causation independent of the application of any presumption. In affirming the Commission’s award of benefits, the Court of Appeals concluded that the Commission made adequate findings that Plaintiff met her burden of proving causation with a presumption of causation and therefore had an alternative factual basis for its award. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the Court of Appeals erred by failing to remand this case to the Commission for additional findings and conclusions because the Court could not determine from the record the extent to which the Commission relied on a presumption of causation or whether it had an independent, alternate basis for its determination of causation. View "Pine v. Wal-Mart Associates, Inc." on Justia Law

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The General Assembly lawfully delegated authority to the Rules Review Commission (Commission) to review and approve rules adopted by the State Board of Education (Board). The Board sought a declaratory ruling that the laws requiring the Board to submit its proposed rules and regulations to the statutorily created committee for review were unconstitutional. The trial court allowed summary judgment for the Board. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that N.C. Const. art. IX, 5 authorizes the General Assembly to statutorily delegate authority to the Commission to review and approve administrative rules that are proposed by the Board for codification. View "North Carolina State Board of Education v. State" on Justia Law

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In determining that the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) erred in revoking a driver’s license for willful refusal to submit to a chemical analysis, the court of appeals overstepped its role by making witness credibility determinations and resolving contradictions in the evidence presented during the DMV’s administrative hearing concerning the license revocation. Petitioner filed a petition for judicial review challenging the hearing officer’s conclusion of law that Petitioner had willfully refused to submit to a chemical analysis. The superior court reversed. The court of appeals ruled that the superior court did not employ the correct standard of review and then, without remanding the matter, considered whether the evidence in the record supported the hearing officer’s conclusion of law rather than determining whether the uncontested findings of fact supported the hearing officer’s legal conclusion that Petitioner willfully refused a chemical analysis. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the superior court and court of appeals erred in reversing the administrative decision of the DMV hearing officer revoking Petitioner’s operator’s license because both courts employed an incorrect standard of review. View "Brackett v. Thomas" on Justia Law

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The North Carolina State Board of Certified Public Accountant Examiners lawfully took disciplinary action against a certified professional and her corporation (collectively, Petitioners) for failure to follow a rule requiring compliance with the terms of a peer review contract, and the Board’s decision was based on substantial evidence. The Board found that Petitioners, a certified public accountant (CPA) and her firm, failed to comply with required auditing standards and failed to fulfill the terms of a peer review contract. The Board determined that this conduct violated rules and standards promulgated by the Board. The Board suspended the firm’s registration, imposed monetary penalties on the CPA, and revoked the CPA’s certificate. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the Board’s action was not an unconstitutional exercise of judicial power; and (2) the Board’s decision was supported by substantial evidence, notwithstanding a procedural error alleged by Petitioners. View "In re Johnson" on Justia Law

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A respondent such as the respondent in this case has a statutory right to a jury trial in an appeal of an Asheville Civil Service Board (Board) decision to superior court. Appellant Robert Frost, a police officer in the Asheville Police Department, was terminated for his alleged use of excessive force against a citizen. Frost appealed his determination to the Board. The Board concluded that Appellant’s termination was not justified and that his termination should be rescinded. The City then filed a petition for a trial de novo in the superior court to determine whether officer Frost’s termination was justified. Appellant filed a timely response to the petition requesting a jury trial. The City moved to strike the request claiming that Appellant had no constitutional or statutory right to a jury trial. The superior court denied the City’s motion. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that, pursuant to section 8(g) of the Asheville Civil Service Law, a respondent may demand a jury trial in a superior court appeal of a Board decision. View "City of Asheville v. Frost" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals reversing the North Carolina Industrial Commission’s decision to award Plaintiff benefits arising out of a 2009 automobile accident. The court of appeals concluded that Plaintiff was barred from pursuing compensation for his personal injury claim under the Workers’ Compensation Act because he had elected to settle his claim against the third-party tortfeasor without the consent of Defendant, the City of Charlotte, and had received disbursement of the settlement proceedings. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding (1) the Act protects both the employer’s lien against third-party proceeds and the employee’s right to pursue workers’ compensation benefits under these circumstances; and (2) therefore, the Commission correctly concluded that Plaintiff had not waived his right to compensation under the Act. View "Easter-Rozzelle v. City of Charlotte" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the determination of the Industrial Commission that Plaintiff was not entitled to any compensation for permanent partial disability under N.C. Gen. Stat. 97-31. Plaintiff suffered a compensable accident and sustained injuries while he was walking at his job site. During the years after his work-related accident, Plaintiff continued to have neck pain. Plaintiff later sought permanent partial disability benefits. After a remand from the Supreme Court, the Commission entered an amended opinion and award denying benefits. The court of appeals affirmed, concluding that the Commission did not err in concluding that Plaintiff was not entitled to any compensation for permanent partial disability. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded, holding that the Commission failed to carry out the court of appeals’ mandate that it make additional findings of fact and conclusions of law on the issue of Plaintiff’s entitlement to benefits under section 97-31. View "Harrison v. Gemma Power Systems, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the determination of the Industrial Commission that Plaintiff was not entitled to any compensation for permanent partial disability under N.C. Gen. Stat. 97-31. Plaintiff suffered a compensable accident and sustained injuries while he was walking at his job site. During the years after his work-related accident, Plaintiff continued to have neck pain. Plaintiff later sought permanent partial disability benefits. After a remand from the Supreme Court, the Commission entered an amended opinion and award denying benefits. The court of appeals affirmed, concluding that the Commission did not err in concluding that Plaintiff was not entitled to any compensation for permanent partial disability. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded, holding that the Commission failed to carry out the court of appeals’ mandate that it make additional findings of fact and conclusions of law on the issue of Plaintiff’s entitlement to benefits under section 97-31. View "Harrison v. Gemma Power Systems, LLC" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff was injured while working for Defendant. The North Carolina Industrial Commission accepted Plaintiff’s claim as compensable under the Workers’ Compensation Act, and Defendant began paying Plaintiff compensation for temporary total disability. Plaintiff later filed a Form 33 requesting a medical motion hearing regarding his symptoms. The Commission concluded that Plaintiff failed to meet his burden of establishing that his anxiety and depression were a result of his work-related accident and that Plaintiff was not entitled to disability payments made after January 2011. The court of appeals (1) vacated and remanded in part, ruling that, on remand, the Commission should give Plaintiff the benefit of a presumption that his anxiety and depression were related to his injuries; and (2) reversed in part, ruling that Plaintiff had met his burden of establishing disability. The Supreme Court affirmed as modified and remanded for further proceedings, holding (1) Plaintiff was entitled a presumption of compensability in regard to his continued medical treatment; and (2) the Commission failed to address the effects of Plaintiff’s tinnitus in determining whether Plaintiff lost wage-earning capacity. View "Wilkes v. City of Greenville" on Justia Law