State ex rel. Dept. of Transp. v. Legarda

In State ex rel. Dept. of Transp. v. Legarda, 2003 WY 130, 77 P.3d 708, 712 (Wyo. 2003), the Department of Transportation (DOT) instituted license revocation proceedings against Legarda, doing business as Laris Auto Sales, for violating several state statutes and the department's rules and regulations. Following a contested case hearing, the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) concluded that Legarda violated two statutes and one department rule. Id. ".Based upon these violations and DOT's discretion to revoke licenses when violations are found, OAH upheld DOT's proposed revocation of Laris' dealer license and bond forfeiture." Id. Legarda appealed that determination to this Court. On appeal, the Court concluded that: "the OAH order does not contain sufficient factual findings to enable this Court to understand the basis for the hearing examiner's conclusion that Laris' violations warranted revocation of its dealership license rather than suspension or some other lesser punishment. That is, we hold the record does not contain such factual findings as would permit us to follow the agency's reasoning from the evidentiary facts on record to its eventual legal conclusions. Newman v. State ex rel. Wyoming Workers' Safety and Compensation Div., 2002 WY 91, P16, 49 P.3d 163 (Wyo.2002). . . . In the present case, it is clear from the findings of fact in the order that OAH found Laris violated certain DOT statutes and regulations. While we do not question the validity of those findings, we do observe their relatively minor nature. Nothing in the record indicates Laris had a history of such violations despite its many years of operation in Fremont County. While the violations may have resulted in minor inconveniences to those who purchased automobiles from Laris, no one alleged Laris was acting fraudulently or intentionally trying to take advantage of its customers. Following the compliance review, a follow-up inspection revealed no violations. Yet, DOT proposed revoking the license and forfeiting the bond, thus putting Laris out of business permanently. What is not clear from the findings, and what is not apparent anywhere in the record before us, is the reason for the decision to revoke Laris' license rather than suspend or take some other less drastic action to obtain compliance. There is quite simply nothing in the record indicating what facts supported the imposition of the most severe penalty available. Under these circumstances, the OAH order cannot stand absent further findings explaining the reasons why revocation, rather than suspension or some other lesser penalty, is warranted. Scott v. McTiernan, 974 P.2d 966 (Wyo.1999); Billings, 2001 WY 81, P13, 30 P.3d 557..." (Legarda, 2003 WY 130, PP 12, 14, 77 P.3d at 712-13) In Legarda, the Court emphasized the "relatively minor nature" of Legarda's violations, which violations "may" have resulted in "minor inconveniences" to Legarda's clients but did not involve fraudulent conduct or an intentional attempt to take advantage of a client. Id.