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 affirming the decision of the Town of Boothbay Harbor's Board of Appeals (BOA) denying 29 McKown, LLC's administrative appeal from a code enforcement officer's (CEO) decision to life a stop work order he had issued to Harbor Crossing during the construction of the building, holding that 29 McKown was deprived of administrative due process.In this case concerning a real estate office building constructed by Harbor Crossing in Boothbay Harbor, 29 McKown sought review of the denial of its McKown's appeal. The superior court affirmed the BOA's decision. The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the order below, holding (1) 29 McKown was deprived of administrative due process; and (2) the CEO did not issue a judicially-reviewable decision in lifting the stop work order. View "29 McKown LLC v. Town of Boothbay Harbor" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court vacated in part the judgment of the superior court affirming the Board of Environmental Protection's decision to upheld a cleanup order issued by the Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection pursuant to Me. Rev. Stat. 38, 1365 against Sultan Corporation for hazardous substances located on its property, holding that the Board improperly declined to address the availability of a third-party defense.In upholding the Commissioner's remediation order the Board expressly declined to reach the issue of whether the third-party defense afforded by Me. Rev. Stat. 38, 1367(3) was available to Sultan in an appeal of a Commissioner's section 1365 order because of the Board's conclusion that even if the defense were available, Sultan failed to prove the elements of the defense by a preponderance of the evidence. The superior court affirmed. The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the portion of the Board's order in which the Board declined to address the availability of the third-party defense, holding that the question of whether the defense was available was a threshold issue that must be determined before the Board or a court can consider the merits of the defense. View "Sultan Corporation v. Department of Environmental Protection" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court affirming the decision of the Department of Marine Resources (DMR) to grant an aquaculture lease to Mere Point Oyster Company, LLC (MPOC) in Maquoit Bay, holding that there was no error or abuse of discretion.MPOC applied for a ten-year aquaculture lease for a site in Marquoit Bay located near the shorefront property of Maquoit Bay, LLC and its sole members, Paul and Kathleen Dioli (collectively, the Diolis). DMR approved the application. Thereafter, the Diolis filed a Me. R. Civ. P. 80C petition requesting review of DMR's decision. The superior court affirmed. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) DMR did not err by approving the lease application without requiring MPOC to consider practicable alternatives; (2) DMR did not err by balancing the interests of MPOC and the public pursuant to Me. Rev. Stat. 6072's express requirements; and (3) the Diolis were not entitled to relief on any of their remaining allegations of error. View "Maquoit Bay LLC v. Department of Marine Resources" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court dismissed this appeal from an order of the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) declining to open a formal investigation into a water bill issued to General Marine Construction Corp. by the Portland Water District (PWD), holding that General Marine's appeal was not taken from a final decision of the Commission pursuant to Me. Rev. Stat. 35-A, 1320(1).At issue was a $15,804 "make-up bill" that the PWD issued to General Marine for unauthorized and unmilled water usage. General Marine filed a complaint challenging the bill. The Commission's Consumer Assistance and Safety Division (CASD) concluded that the PWD had complied with PUC rules in issuing the make-up bill. The Commission upheld CASD's decision. General Marine appealed. The Supreme Judicial Court dismissed the appeal, holding (1) the PUC did not issue a "final decision" at the conclusion of the statutorily-authorized informal process; and (2) therefore, section 1320(1) did not authorize General Marine's appeal. View "General Marine Construction Corp. v. Public Utilities Commission" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the decision of the superior court denying the motion to compel arbitration brought by Uber Technologies, Inc. and Rasier, LLC (collectively, Uber) in this action brought by Patricia Sarchi, a user of Uber's ride-sharing service, and the Maine Human Rights Commission, holding that the superior court did not err.Plaintiffs brought this action against Uber for violating the Maine Human Rights Act, Me. Rev. Stat. 5, 4592(8), 4633(2), after Sarchi, who was blind, was refused a ride because of her guide dog. Uber moved to compel Sarchi to arbitrate and to dismiss or stay the action pending arbitration. The motion court denied the motion to compel, concluding that Sarchi did not become bound by the terms and conditions of Uber's user agreement. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that, under the facts and circumstances of this case, Sarchi was not bound by the terms. View "Sarchi v. Uber Technologies, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the decision of the appellate division of the Workers' Compensation Board affirming the decision of an administrative law judge (ALJ) granting Plaintiff's petition for award of compensation, holding that an employee is not required to give notice of his occupational disease claim to his former employer's insurer when the employer no longer exists.Nearly twenty years after retiring from his employment Plaintiff underwent surgery for lung cancer and was later diagnosed with asbestosis. Plaintiff filed five petitions for award of compensation, each alleging a different date of injury and naming and different employer and insurer pairing. The ALJ (1) found that Plaintiff's last injurious exposure to asbestos occurred when he was working for Auburn Sheet Metal, which was insured by Maine Employers' Mutual Insurance Company (MEMIC) but no longer existed, and (2) granted Plaintiff's petition for an award of compensation. The appellate division concluded that Plaintiff was not required to provide notice to MEMIC. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the appellate division did not err in concluding that the workers' compensation statute does not impose on an injured employee whose employer no longer exists the duty to give notice to the insurer. View "Desgrosseilliers v. Auburn Sheet Metal" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court remanded this matter challenging the superior court's judgment affirming a decision of the Board of Dental Practice sanctioning Appellant, a licensed dentist in Maine, for unprofessional conduct for her failure to timely provide patient medical records, holding that the Board's findings of fact were insufficient to permit judicial review.An attorney who represented one of Appellant's patients sent a request to Appellant for the patient's medical records. When the request was refused, the attorney filed a complaint with the Board. The Board found that Appellant had engaged in unprofessional conduct, thereby violating Me. Rev. Stat. 18325(1)(E), and sanctioned Appellant. The superior court upheld the Board's decision. The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the superior court's judgment and remanded the matter, holding that the Board did not make sufficient factual findings, precluding review. View "Narowetz v. Board of Dental Practice" on Justia Law

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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