Articles Posted in Maine Supreme Judicial Court

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The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the decision of the Appellate Division affirming the order of the Workers’ Compensation Board (Board) requiring Plaintiff’s former employer (Defendant) to pay for medical marijuana used to treat Plaintiff’s chronic back pain. Plaintiff was issued a certification to use medical marijuana to treat his pain after sustaining a work-related injury. Plaintiff filed a “petition for payment of medical and related services” with the Board seeking payment from Defendant for the cost of the medical marijuana. Defendant opposed the petition, arguing that an order requiring it to pay for Plaintiff’s medical marijuana was barred by the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA) even if his use of medical marijuana were permitted by the Maine Medical Use of Marijuana Act (MMUMA). A hearing officer granted Plaintiff’s petition, and the Appellate Division affirmed. The Supreme Court vacated the decision of the Appellate Division, holding (1) in the narrow circumstances of this case, there was a positive conflict between federal and state law; and (2) consequently, the CSA preempts the MUUMA as applied here. View "Bourgoin v. Twin Rivers Paper Co., LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the order of the superior court affirming in part the decision of the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF) to deny portions of Appellants’ request for records pursuant to the Freedom of Access Act (FOAA). The records at issue were a series of drafts of a letter that DACF sent to representatives and entities associated with Dubois Livestock Inc. and portions of emails that identified people who made complaints against Dubois Livestock. In denying those portions of the FOAA request, DACF asserted that the material contained privileged information and work product and therefore was not subject to disclosure. The court concluded that DACF had properly withheld most of the material at issue. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that the court did not err by declining to order production of records that DACF claimed were within the confidential informant identity privilege and therefore not subject to disclosure. View "Dubois v. Department of Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed in part and vacated in part an order of the superior court upholding in part a decision of the Maine Office of the Attorney General (OAG) denying Dubois Livestock, Inc.’s Freedom of Access Act (FOAA) request for certain information related to an enforcement action filed against Dubois Livestock. Specifically, Dubois Livestock sought drafts of a letter sent by the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF) to Dubois Livestock and a series of emails preparatory to a meeting held among agents of several state agencies in connection with the enforcement efforts. The OAG denied the FOAA request in its entirety. The superior court affirmed as to the drafts of the DACF letter, concluding that they were protected as work product, but reversed as to the emails, concluding that the emails were not privileged. The Supreme Court affirmed as to the draft letters but vacated the judgment as to the emails, holding that all of the documents in this case were protected work product material and not subject to disclosure pursuant to FOAA. View "Dubois v. Office of the Attorney General" on Justia Law

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The evidence presented to the Secretary of State’s hearing examiner supported the determination that Walter Melevsky III failed to submit to a test of his blood-alcohol concentration, and therefore, the hearing examiner properly denied Melevsky’s petition to rescind the administrative suspension of his driver’s license. The superior court vacated the hearing examiner’s decision and ordered the Secretary of State to reinstate Melevsky’s driver’s license, concluding that the Secretary’s decision was erroneous as a matter of law. The Supreme Judicial Court disagreed, holding that the hearing examiner’s determination that Melevsky failed to submit to a test of his blood-alcohol level was supported by substantial evidence. View "Melevsky v. Secretary of State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court on consolidated Rule 80C appeals from the decision of the Maine Labor Relations Board (MLRB) on the School Administrative District 3 Education Association MEA/NEA’s (the Association) prohibited practice complaint, holding that the MLRB did not err when it held that the 120-day notice provision in Me. Rev. Stat. 26, 965(1) applied to the request for impact bargaining in this case. The Association filed a prohibited practice complaint with the MLRB against the Board of Directors of Regional School Unit 3 (the School Board), alleging that the School Board violated Me. Rev. Stat. 26, 964(1)(E) and 965(1) when it refused to participate in mediation and fact-finding procedures with respect to the effect of a new bus system. The MLRB determined that the Association failed to comply with the 120-day notice requirement in section 965(1) by failing to participate in fact-finding concerning the impact of the new busing system. The superior court affirmed. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that the MLRB did not clearly err in finding that the Association did not provide adequate notice to satisfy section 965(1). View "SAD 3 Education Ass’n v. RSU 3 Board of Directors" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court affirming the Town of Yarmouth Planning Board’s approval of a site plan application by Verizon Wireless to install wireless communication equipment on a tower and site owned by the Yarmouth Water District, holding that the Board did not err by concluding that Verizon’s application complied with the relevant provisions of Yarmouth’s Zoning Ordinance. Contrary to Appellants’ contentions on appeal, the Supreme Court held (1) the Yarmouth Water District site was not subject to a presumption of unsuitability because the relevant article of the Ordinance applies only to new-tower-construction applicants; and (2) substantial evidence in the record supported the Board’s findings that Verizon presented sufficient evidence that it investigated other technically feasible sites and that none was available. View "Olson v. Town of Yarmouth" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment entered by the superior court upholding the final agency decision of the Department of Health and Human Services denying Appellant’s application for food supplement benefits. The Department denied Appellant’s application for food benefits based on language in the public law not present within the statutory text. The language at issue contained a fiscal limitation of $261,384 and a temporal limitation - June 30, 2015 - on the availability of funding for benefits for persons otherwise eligible under Me. Rev. Stat. 22, 3104-A(1)(D) (Paragraph D). The Supreme Judicial Court concluded that the Legislature intended for Paragraph D to be a permanent exception to the general ineligibility of noncitizen for food assistance under section 3104-(A)(1) and that the temporal and fiscal limitations contained in P.L 2013, ch. 368, section 00-14 applied only to the fiscal years ending June 30, 2013, June 30-2015, and June 30, 2015 and not beyond June 30, 2015. View "Manirakiza v. Department of Health & Human Services" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court vacated in part and affirmed in part the judgment of the superior court upholding redactions made by the Department of Corrections in certain documents it sent to Plaintiff pursuant to Plaintiff’s Freedom of Access Act (FOAA) request. Plaintiff appealed, arguing that the Department failed to comply with FOAA because the redactions were improper. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment as to certain documents and vacated the judgment as to other documents, holding that select portions of the produced documents were improperly redacted and select portions of the produced documents were properly redacted. View "Anctil v. Department of Corrections" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the decision of the Workers’ Compensation Board Appellate Division affirming the hearing officer’s decree denying Appellant’s petition for award. On appeal, Appellant claimed that he was an employee of Regional Transportation Program (RTP), and therefore, he was entitled to receive benefits for a work-related injury. The hearing officer determined that Appellant was not an RTP employee for purposes of the Workers’ Compensation Act. The Appellate Division affirmed. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) it was not unreasonable for the Appellate Division to conclude that the reimbursement provided to Appellant did not constitute payment for his services; and (2) therefore, the Appellate Division properly found that Appellant was not an employee for purposes of the Act. View "Huff v. Regional Transportation Program" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the State Board of Property Tax Review granting Emera Maine’s request for a property tax abatement for tax year 2012 pursuant to Me. Rev. Stat. 36, 841(1). Emera Maine was in the business of transporting and distributing electric power over transmission lines. The Board found that Emera’s abatement applications concerned an issue of error or illegality in assessment amounting to double taxation. The superior court affirmed the decision of the Board. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that the evidence supported the Board’s finding that Emera’s error in estimating a value for and reporting ownership of a transmission line that Emera did not own resulted in an “illegality, error or irregularity in assessment” rather than an “error in the valuation of property,” thus entitling Emera to an abatement pursuant to Me. Rev. Stat. 36, 841(1). View "Town of Eddington v. Emera Maine" on Justia Law