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Four Board Suit
(Kenaston v. State of Alaska)
by James B. Gottstein, Esq.


This Appeal Has Been Dismissed By Agreement

In connection with my research for a memo on the Mental Health Board's right to select its Executive Director, I pulled up Alaska Statutes AS 47.30.664(b), which provides:

(b) The board shall have a paid staff provided by the department, including, but not limited to, an executive director who shall be selected by the board. The executive director is in the partially exempt service and may hire additional employees in the classified service of the state. The department shall provide for the assignment of personnel to the board to ensure the board has the capacity to fulfill its responsibilities. The executive director of the board shall be directly responsible to the board in the performance of the director's duties.
There is a similar provision for ABADA and GCDSE, but not for CoA as far as I can tell.

The 4 Board Suit was seeking a ruling that adequate funding and adequate opportunity to perform their settlement mandated duties was an implied term of the Mental Health Trust Lands Settlement (Settlement)

The highlighted, third, sentence makes it explicit in my view, thus making the lawsuit unnecessary.  Needless to say, I am very embarrassed about not knowing this before, but even though the state may not necessarily agree that it makes it explicit, I didn't see how I could continue to ask the Court for a ruling that it is an implied term after I discovered it was explicit.  We have therefore dismissed the appeal and there will be no oral argument on the case September 28, 2005.

Of course, ultimately, it is a good thing.


In 1994, the state settled the long-running class action lawsuit over the Mental Health Trust Lands Litigation.  Four advocacy boards were given specific duties  under the settlement, which were explicitly made "material terms" of the settlement.  This lawsuit seeks a declaratory judgment that providing adequate funding and opportunity to perform these settlement mandated duties are implied.  This question has arisen because the State is drastically cutting the funds for these boards.  However, the lawsuit does not seek a determination that any particular funding level is required or that the State is violating the agreement at this point; just that  provide adequate funding, etc., is an implied term of the settlement.

 Oral argument (trial court) was held June 21, 2004, and the trial court ruled from the bench that he was dismissing the complaint for the lack of a case in controversy.  A written order dismissing the complaint was distributed July 9, 2004, and a motion for reconsideration filed July 19, 2004, which was denied on July 21, 2004.  An appeal to the Alaska Supreme Court was filed on August 11, 2004 and the Opening Brief was filed February 9, 2005.  The State filed its Opposition Brief, dated May 5, 2005.

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Last modified 8/25/2005
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