Justia Government & Administrative Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Maine Supreme Judicial Court
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The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment of the superior court vacating the determination of the Town of Wells Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) denying Plaintiff's application for two setback variances on the grounds that Plaintiff had not met his burden of proof, holding that the evidence did not compel the ZBA to grant him a variance.The ZBA denied Plaintiff's application on the basis that he did not meet his burden of proof to show that granting the variances would not alter the essential character of the locality. The superior court vacated the ZBA's determination, concluding that Plaintiff had met his burden of proof. The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment below and remanded with instructions to affirm the ZBA's denial, holding that the ZBA properly decided that Plaintiff failed to show that the nature of his proposed residence with the variances would conform with the neighborhood as zoned and would not degrade the value of surrounding environmental structures. View "Hill v. Town of Wells" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court affirming a decision of the State Board of Property Tax Review upholding the Town of Madison's denial of Madison Paper Industries' (MPI) request for a property tax abatement for the 2016-17 tax year, holding that the Board made no errors of law, and its findings were supported by competent evidence in the record.The Board found MPI's appraisal and its underlying factual assertions were not credible and that MPI had failed to meet its burden of persuasion. On appeal, MPI argued that the Board failed to apply the Maine Constitution's required that it apply the "just value" standard to valuing the property. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that the Board's determinations were not erroneous and that its findings were supported by the evidence. View "Madison Paper Industries v. Town of Madison" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment of the superior court affirming a 2019 decision of the State Board of Property Tax Review granting the tax abatement requests of Expera Old Town, LLC for the 2014 and 2015 tax years for a wood pulp and paper mill, holding that the superior court erred.Expera Old Town, LLC requested tax abatements for 2014 and 2015, but the City of Old Town denied the requests. In 2017, the Board affirmed the City's denial of the requested abatements. The superior court vacated the Board's decision and remanded the case. On remand, in 2019, the Board granted Expera Old Town's tax abatement requests for the same tax years. The Supreme Court vacated the superior court's judgment, holding that Expera Old Town failed to meet its initial burden of showing that the assessments were manifestly wrong. View "City of Old Town v. Expera Old Town, LLC" on Justia Law

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In these cases concerning property tax abatement requests the Supreme Judicial Court affirmed two decisions of the superior court vacating a decision denying requests for abatement and granting a petition for judicial review of an adverse decision concerning another request for a tax abatement, holding that the superior court did not err.This consolidated appeal concerned property tax abatement requests made by the Roque Island Gardner Homestead Corporation (RIGHC). The superior court vacated a decision of the Board of Appeals (BOA) of the Town of Jonesport denying RIGHC's requests for abatement concerning three tax years and remanded the matter for the BOA to make an independent determination of the property's fair market value. The court also granted judicial review as to the State Board of Property Tax Review's adverse decision concerning RIGHC's request for another tax year abatement and directed the Town to grant the abatement request. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed both decisions, holding that the superior court did not err. View "Roque Island Gardner Homestead Corp. v. Town of Jonesport" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the decision of the Appellate Division of the Workers' Compensation Board (WCB) affirming the decision of the WCB ALJ denying Appellant's petition for review of incapacity benefits paid by Hydraulic Hose & Assemblies, LLC, through its insurer, The Hanover Insurance Group, because the statute of had expired, holding that the claim was timely.Appellant filed a petition for review of incapacity, claiming that he was entitled to total incapacity benefits. The ALJ denied the petition, concluding that the six-year statutory limitation period had expired and that Appellant's receipt of Social Security benefits did not toll the statute of limitations. On appeal, Appellant argued that the receipt of his Social Security benefits under the circumstances tolled the statute of limitations. The Supreme Judicial Court agreed, holding (1) offsetting Social Security old-age insurance benefits must be treated as primary payments of workers' compensation; and (2) the "date of the most recent payment" under Me. Rev. Stat. 39-A, 306 is the date of most recent payment of offsetting Social Security old-age insurance benefits. View "Charest v. Hydraulic Hose & Assemblies, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the opinion of the Workers' Compensation Board Appellate Division agreeing with the conclusion of the administrative law judge (ALJ) that Darla Potter, an aquaculture worker, was not a "seaman" within the meaning of the Jones Act, 46 U.S.C.S. 30104, holding that the Appellate Division did not err.The Appellate Division affirmed the decree of the ALJ granting Potter's petitions for award of compensation for injuries sustained in the course of her employment with Cooke Aquaculture USA, Inc. At issue on appeal was whether Potter's claims fell within the jurisdiction of federal admiralty law or state workers' compensation law. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that Potter was not a seaman within the purview of the Jones Act. View "Potter v. Great Falls Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the Workers' Compensation Board Appellate Division vacating the judgment of the administrative law judge (ALJ) denying Lorraine Somers's petition to have her benefits reinstated, holding that the Appellate Division did not err.The Board entered a decree permitting S.D. Warrant Company and its insurer (collectively, S.D. Warren) to discontinue paying Somers partial incapacity benefits when those payments had reached the 520-week statutory limit. Somers filed a petition to have her benefits reinstated, arguing that S.D. Warren failed to comply with Me. W.C.B. Rule, ch. 2, 5(1) (the former Rule) by not providing her with notice that she could be eligible for an extension of weekly benefits. An ALJ denied the petition. The Appellate Division vacated that decision. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that S.D. Warren was required to give Somers notice pursuant to the former Rule before terminating her benefits. View "Somers v. S.D. Warren Co." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court dismissing the three-count complaint filed by John Doe, DO, against the Maine Board of Osteopathic Licensure, holding that Doe failed to state a claim upon which relief may be granted as to any of his claims.Two of Doe's complaints sought a declaration that pending disciplinary complaints against him must be dismissed because the Board did not provide him the required notice, and the third count claimed that the Board failed to address the complaints in a timely manner. The superior court dismissed the first two counts for failure to state a claim and the third count for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that dismissal of all three counts was proper on the grounds that Doe failed to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. View "Doe v. Maine Board of Osteopathic Licensure" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed in part and vacated in part the judgment of the superior court affirming the decision of the Commissioner of the Department of Health and Human Services (Department) accepting the recommendation of an administrative presiding officer that the Department correctly established and maintained a recoupment claim for $116,852 against Appellant, an oral surgeon, holding that remand was required as to one aspect of the Department's decision.Appellant was a MaineCare provider whose practice was based in Auburn. After Appellant retired, the Department issued a notice of violation, alleging that Appellant had been overpaid. After an administrative hearing, the Department reduced its claim to $116,852. The presiding officer upheld the Department's recoupment claim. The Commissioner adopted the presiding officer's recommended decision in full. The Supreme Judicial Court reversed in part and remanded the case, holding (1) because the Department failed to explain its decision imposing the maximum allowable penalties for Appellant's failure properly to document time spent with patients following his administration of anesthesia, the Court was unable to determine whether the Department properly exercised its discretion; and (2) Appellant was not entitled to relief on his remaining allegations of error. View "Palian v. Department of Health and Human Services" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court affirming the decision of the Town of Casco Zoning Board of Appeals in which the Board denied the request for a shoreline zoning permit filed by Mark and Valerie Tomasino, holding that the Tomasinos lacked standing to seek such a permit.On appeal, the Tomasinos argued that the Board erred in determining that they demonstrated insufficient right, title, or interest in the property to obtain a permit to remove three trees from property owned by Lake Shore Realty Trust, the abutting property owner, over which the Tomasinos claimed a deeded easement. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that, even assuming that the Tomasinos demonstrated that they had some interest in the particular portion of property at issue in this case, they failed to demonstrate that they had the kind of interest that would allow them to cut the trees if they were granted a permit to do so. View "Tomasino v. Town of Casco" on Justia Law