Articles Posted in North Dakota Supreme Court

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Plains Marketing, LP and Van Hook Crude Terminal, LLC, appealed an order affirming a Mountrail County Board of County Commissioners' decision to deny their application for an abatement of 2013 real estate taxes for three parcels of land in Mountrail County. They argued the North Dakota Supreme Court should reverse the County Board's denial of their application for an abatement because the County Board incorrectly applied the omitted property provisions in N.D.C.C. ch. 57-14. After review of the Commissioners' decision, the Supreme Court agreed and reversed the order. View "Plains Marketing, LP v. Mountrail Cty. Bd. of Cty. Comm'rs" on Justia Law

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Blume Construction, Inc. appealed a district court judgment affirming a Job Service North Dakota decision, finding Blume did not file a valid appeal and the agency's determination assigning Blume a final penalty tax rate. Blume received a notice of determination from Job Service informing Blume that it would be assigned a penalty tax rate for unemployment insurance. The notice stated the agency conducted an audit and concluded there was a transfer of ownership and payroll between Blume and another company that was knowingly done to obtain a lower tax rate for unemployment insurance. The notice informed Blume it would be assigned the highest tax rate assignable for the next three years. The notice advised Blume the determination would become final unless a written appeal was made to Job Service within fifteen days. Job Service received an electronic appeal request for Blume signed by Craig Fidler. Fidler was identified as a licensed attorney from Colorado. Fidler was not licensed to practice law in North Dakota. In approximately May 2014, Fidler notified the referee he was unable to secure a sponsoring attorney licensed in North Dakota. During that same time period, the referee was informed a North Dakota attorney would be representing Blume. Blume argued the referee erred in finding Blume's attorney engaged in the unauthorized practice of law and the appealed request the attorney filed was void. Finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Blume Construction, Inc. v. North Dakota" on Justia Law

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North Dakota Initiated Constitutional Measure 2, which would have abolished property taxes, was disapproved by the voters in the June 2012 primary election. Empower the Taxpayer ("Empower"), Charlene Nelson, and Robert Hale supported Measure 2. Before the election, Empower, Nelson, and Hale brought this action against numerous state and local government officials and other entities alleging violations of the Corrupt Practices Act, and sought injunctive relief, including prohibiting the defendants from "advocating any position on Measure 2" and declaring the defendants "no longer eligible to run for public office." The County Defendants sought sanctions against the plaintiffs and their attorney under N.D.R.Civ.P. 11, alleging the action against them was frivolous and that it had been brought for an improper purpose. The action was ultimately dismissed by the district court, and the Supreme Court affirmed on appeal. After the action was dismissed, the district court considered the County Defendants' motion for sanctions, concluding a competent attorney could not in good faith have believed that a cause of action existed against the County Defendants. The court therefore ordered reasonable attorney fees and costs for defending against the action and that the plaintiffs prepare a written retraction of their allegations of corruption and impropriety to be published in the major newspapers of the state. Upon review of the sanctions issue, the Supreme Court concluded the district court's orders did not provide an adequate explanation of the evidentiary and legal basis for its decision; the Court was unable to adequately understand the basis for the court's decision to review on appeal. Therefore, the case was reversed and remanded to the district court to clarify its opinion. View "Empower the Taxpayer v. Fong" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Sharon Wheeler appealed a judgment requiring her to pay assessments to Defendant Southport Seven Planned Unit Development ("Southport"). Upon review of the matter, the Supreme Court concluded the district court did not err finding Southport had authority to impose assessments against Wheeler as a property owner in Southport, the court did not err finding the amount Wheeler owed Southport and the court did not err in ordering Wheeler to pay Southport costs. View "Wheeler v. Southport Seven Planned Unit Dev." on Justia Law

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D&P Terminal, Inc., and Potter Enterprises appealed a district court judgment that affirmed the decision of the Board of City Commissioners of Fargo in approving special assessments against their property. Upon review, the Supreme Court affirmed, concluding the Fargo Special Assessment Commission did not use an inappropriate method to calculate the benefits to property included in the improvement district. View "D&P Terminal v. City of Fargo" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff-Appellant Erling "Curly" Haugland appealed and Defendant-Appellee City of Bismarck cross-appealed a grant of summary judgment that declared North Dakota's Urban Renewal Law constitutional, and Bismarck's implementation of an urban renewal plan and use of tax increment financing to fund urban renewal projects in its urban renewal area compliant with the Act. Plaintiff claimed the Act violates the gift clause provisions of N.D. Const. art. X, section 18, the requirements for imposing taxes in N.D. Const. art. X, sections 3 and 5, and the equal protection provisions of the state and federal constitutions. He also claimed Bismarck's implementation of a perpetual urban renewal plan violated the Act. Upon review, the Supreme Court held the Act is constitutional, but the summary judgment record in this case did not establish whether Bismarck's renewal plan complied with the provisions of the Act. View "Haugland v. City of Bismarck" on Justia Law

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Empower the Taxpayer, Charlene Nelson, and Robert Hale (collectively "Empower") appealed an order dismissing their request for injunctive relief against numerous state and local government officials and other entities. Empower supported North Dakota Initiated Constitutional Measure 2 to abolish property taxes which is on the June 2012 primary election ballot. In February 2012, Empower brought this action seeking injunctive relief against the defendants to prohibit them from, among other things, "advocating any position on Measure 2" and to declare them "no longer eligible to run for public office." Empower alleged the officials and entities had violated provisions of the Corrupt Practices Act by distributing false and misleading information about the effect of Measure 2. The district court dismissed the action, concluding "Empower lacks standing to bring this claim as the Corrupt Practices Act is a criminal law, the Defendants' actions did not violate Empower's legal rights, and the legislature did not imply a private right of action" for violation of the Act's provisions. Upon review, the Supreme Court affirmed, finding Empower failed to establish that there was a private right of action to enforce provisions of the North Dakota Corrupt Practices Act. View "Empower the Taxpayer v. Fong" on Justia Law