Articles Posted in Arkansas Supreme Court

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Hence forth, all briefed cases submitted to the court of appeals must be disposed of by full, written majority opinions. Thus, In re Memorandum Opinions, 700 S.W.2d 63 (Ark. Ct. App. 1985), in which the court of appeals promulgated its memorandum-opinion policy, is hereby overruled. In this workers’ compensation case, Appellants filed a petition asking the Supreme Court to review an opinion handed down by the court of appeals. Neither the full commission nor the court of appeals issued a formal opinion, as the full commission adopted the administrative law judge’s findings and the court of appeals issued a memorandum opinion. The Supreme Court vacated the court of appeals’s opinion and remanded the case to that court to properly analyze this case, as the opinion provided no meaningful analysis. Because Arkansas Supreme Court Rule 5-2(e) has previously allowed the court of appeals to issue memorandum opinions, the rule is hereby amended to state that opinions of the court of appeals shall only be in conventional form. View "Brookshire Grocery Co. v. Morgan" on Justia Law

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In this wrongful termination case, Peggy Cryer, who was sued individually and in her official capacity as executive secretary of the Arkansas State Medical Board, was entitled to statutory immunity on some, but not all, of Plaintiff's claims. Kristi Byers was terminated from her employment with the Board for allegedly not using leave time on days that she did not come to work. Byers filed suit against the Board and Cryer for wrongful termination, alleging race discrimination and retaliation under the Arkansas Civil Rights Act (ACRA) and seeking damages and injunctive relief. The circuit court denied Defendants’ motion for summary judgment on immunity grounds, concluding that Defendants were not entitled to sovereign immunity and Cryer was not entitled to statutory immunity. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding that Cryer was entitled to statutory immunity on Byers’s individual-capacity race discrimination and retaliation claims under the ACRA but statutory immunity did not bar Byers’s federal civil rights claims against Cryer in her individual capacity. Remanded. View "Arkansas State Medical Board v. Byers" on Justia Law

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Statutory postjudgment interest on attorney’s fees accrues when the fees were actually quantified in dollars and cents rather than when the right thereto was first established. Plaintiff was granted judgment on her claim for retaliation under the Arkansas Whisteblower Protection Act. The circuit court entered judgment “plus costs and reasonable attorney’s fees to be determined by the court.” Three months later, the court entered a second order quantifying attorney’s fees. Defendant paid postjudgment interest on the attorney’s fees from the date that the award was entered. Plaintiff argued that she was entitled to attorney’s fees when the underlying judgment was entered. The circuit court granted the Department’s motion to compel entry of complete satisfaction. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that postjudgment interest on an attorney’s-fee award accrues from the order setting the fee amount in dollars and cents. View "Daniel v. Arkansas Department of Human Services" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court accepted a question certified to it by the court of appeals regarding the suspension, discharge, or reduction in rank for certain civil-service officers. The Court answered (1) appeals from civil-service commissions under Ark. Code Ann. 14-51-308(e) are not required by law to be heard by the Supreme Court pursuant to Arkansas Supreme Court Rule 1-2(a)(8); and (2) therefore, civil-service-commission appeals shall continue to be filed in the court of appeals unless there is another basis for Supreme Court jurisdiction under Rule 1-2. View "Bales v. City of Fort Smith" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed a class-action implant against the Arkansas State Police Retirement System (ASPRS) and its Trustees, in their official capacity, on behalf of certain members of the Arkansas State Police Retirement System Deferred Option Plan (DROP). Plaintiffs alleged, among other things, that Act 404 of 2007, which amended Ark. Code Ann. 24-6-304(b) to provide that that the ASPRS Board of Trustees shall set the interest rate and that the interest rate “shall not be greater than the actuarially assumed investment rate of return for that time,” was unconstitutional as applied to those officers who had elected to enter the DROP prior to the effective date of the Act. The circuit court granted Plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment on all claims, concluding that retroactive application of Act 404 would impair and disturb contractual vested rights of the officers regarding the interest rate on their DROP contributions. The Supreme Court reversed and dismissed Plaintiffs’ complaint, holding that the circuit court erred in denying Defendants’ motion for summary judgment based on sovereign immunity. View "Arkansas State Police Retirement System v. Sligh" on Justia Law

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Teresa Jones filed claims against Truman Arnold Companies (TAC) for negligent supervision, retention, and hiring of a store manager, claiming that she was a victim of sexual assault and harassment while employed by TAC and that she was exposed to this harm due to TAC’s negligence. TAC moved to dismiss the complaint, arguing that Jones’s sole remedy was through the Workers’ Compensation Act and that the Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Commission had the exclusive jurisdiction to determine the applicability of the Act. The circuit court denied the motion to dismiss, ruling that the Act did not provide coverage for Jones’s claims because her alleged injuries amounted to “mental injury or illness,” which is not compensable under workers’ compensation. The TAC subsequently filed a petition for writ of prohibition. The Supreme Court granted the petition, holding that the issue of jurisdiction resided exclusively with the Workers’ Compensation Commission because the facts, as presented in the complaint, could not be determined to fall outside the Act as a matter of law. View "Truman Arnold Cos. v. Miller County Circuit Court" on Justia Law

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Patricia Adams filed claims against Truman Arnold Companies (TAC) for negligent supervision, retention, and hiring of a store manager, claiming that she was a victim of sexual assault and harassment while employed by TAC and that she was exposed to this harm due to TAC’s negligence. TAC moved to dismiss the complaint, arguing that Adams’s sole remedy was through the Workers’ Compensation Act and that the Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Commission had the exclusive jurisdiction to determine the applicability of the Act. The circuit court denied TAC’s motion to dismiss, concluding that the allegations fell outside of the Commission’s jurisdiction. TAC then petitioned the Supreme Court for a writ of prohibition to preclude the circuit court from continuing to exercise jurisdiction over Adams’s claims against TAC. The Supreme Court granted the writ of prohibition, holding that the writ was warranted for the reasons stated in Truman Arnold Cos. v. Miller County Circuit Court, handed down this same date. View "Truman Arnold Cos. v. Miller County Circuit Court" on Justia Law

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A class of police officers and firefighters employed by the City of Conway brought a class-action complaint alleging that the City breached its employment contract with them when it failed to allocate sales tax revenues to fund salary increases. The circuit court certified the class action, finding that there were overarching, common questions that could efficiently be determined on a class-wide basis. The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court’s class-certification order, holding that the circuit court did not abuse its discretion when if found the prerequisites of a class action. View "City of Conway v. Shumate" on Justia Law

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Guy Hendrix, the decedent in this case, worked for Alcoa Inc. for nearly thirty years. After he retired, Hendrix filed a claim against Alcoa for workers’ compensation benefits, alleging that he was exposed to asbestos during the course of his employment, leading to his diagnosis of an asbestos-related cancer. An administrative law judge found that the claim was time-barred because it was not filed within three years of his last date of the injurious exposure. After Hendrix died, his estate initiated this wrongful-death and survival action against Alcoa. Alcoa moved to dismiss the claims, asserting that the circuit court lacked jurisdiction because the claims fell within the exclusive-remedy provision of the Workers’ Compensation Act. The circuit court agreed and dismissed the claims against Alcoa with prejudice. The estate appealed, arguing that because the statute of repose extinguished Hendrix’s remedy under the Act before it accrued, the exclusive-remedy provision no longer applied. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the claim falls within the coverage formula of the Act, even though Hendrix was ultimately denied recovery on the ground that the claim was time-barred. View "Hendrix v. Alcoa Inc." on Justia Law

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Defendants in this case included a Union, a subsidiary of the Union, and John Does (collectively, Defendants) who conducted demonstrations to help current and former Walmart employees on issues related to their employment. Walmart filed a complaint in the circuit court alleging trespass and seeking injunctive and declaratory relief. The circuit court found that Walmart had met the requirements for a permanent injunction and a declaratory judgment. The injunction prohibited any non-employee defendant from engaging in any non-shopping activities on Walmart’s private property in Arkansas, and the circuit court declared that Defendants’ entrance onto Walmart private property for non-shopping purposes constituted a trespass. The Supreme Court affirmed as modified, holding (1) the National Labor Relations Act does not preempt Walmart’s trespass lawsuit; (2) the circuit court did not err in enjoining Defendants from entering parking lots and sidewalks that Walmart does not hold the right to exclusively possess; and (3) the injunction and declaration are overly broad as to their scope in that they prohibit “all non-shopping activity,” and the circuit court’s order is modified to limit the scope of the order to those activities that were proven by Walmart to cause irreparable harm. View "United Food & Commercial Workers International Union v. Wal-Mart Stores Inc." on Justia Law