Articles Posted in New Hampshire Supreme Court

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Petitioners the New England Police Benevolent Association, Inc. (NEPBA) and the State Employees’ Association of New Hampshire, Inc., SEIU, Local 1984 (SEA), appealed a decision of the New Hampshire Public Employee Labor Relations Board (PELRB) dismissing their unfair labor practice complaints filed against respondent State of New Hampshire. After several bargaining sessions, the State rejected all wage proposals, explaining that “the Governor was not offering any wage increases . . . given anticipated increases in prescription drug costs in the healthcare market.” As a result, the Teamsters and the NHTA declared an impasse. Although no other unions declared an impasse, the State took the position that all five unions must proceed to impasse mediation. The SEA challenged the State on this position, and subsequently, petitioners each filed complaints with the PELRB. During the pendency of these complaints, the State advised all five unions that it would select a mediator and continued to assert that all of the unions must participate in impasse mediation “because the issues to be resolved affected all bargaining units.” The PELRB consolidated the petitioners’ complaints and found in a 2-1 vote that RSA 273-A:9, I, “requires all five unions to utilize the Union Committee format at the bargaining table and during impasse resolution proceedings until such time as the common terms and condition[s] of employment are settled.” The PELRB, therefore, dismissed the complaints and ordered the petitioners to coordinate with the other unions “to determine the forum in which negotiations will go forward.” Petitioners unsuccessfully moved for rehearing, and this appeal followed. Finding no reversible error in the trial court's dismissal of petitioners' complaints, the New Hampshire Supreme Court affirmed the PELRB. View "Appeal of New England Police Benevolent Association, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, the Trustees of Dartmouth College, appealed a superior court order upholding the denial of its application for site plan approval by the Town of Hanover’s Planning Board for the construction of an Indoor Practice Facility (IPF). The planning board denied approval of the application upon finding that it failed to comply with three general considerations of Hanover’s site plan regulations. The superior court upheld the planning board’s decision following a hearing at which several Hanover residents owning properties abutting the proposed site intervened to defend the board’s decision (abutters). After review, the New Hampshire Supreme Court reversed and remanded because the evidence did not reasonably support the trial court’s findings. The certified record confirmed the board based its denial of Dartmouth’s application upon subjective and personal feelings and the trial court unreasonably adopted a rationale not supported by the record to affirm the board’s decision. View "Trustees of Dartmouth College v. Town of Hanover" on Justia Law

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Petitioner Sandra Brown, DVM, appealed an October 2017 decision by the New Hampshire Board of Veterinary Medicine (Board) suspending her license to practice veterinary medicine for six months and further prohibiting her, following the six-month suspension and until December 31, 2021, from dispensing, possessing, or administering controlled substances (other than euthanasia solution) in her practice. On appeal, she argued the Board lacked subject matter jurisdiction to discipline her for violating the Controlled Drug Act because the Board was not one of the agencies statutorily authorized to enforce that act. She also argued that the Board lacked jurisdiction to subject her practice to post-hearing inspections. "Although we need not decide the full scope of the Board’s jurisdiction to discipline a veterinarian for the violation of 'all laws,'" the New Hampshire Supreme Court concluded the Board had subject matter jurisdiction to discipline petitioner for violating the Controlled Drug Act. Furthermore, the Court found documents in the certified record suggested that petitioner agreed, at the very least implicitly, to the inspections as part of a settlement agreement with the Board. Therefore, the Board had jurisdiction to subject her practice to post-hearing inspections. View "Appeal of Sandra Brown, DVM" on Justia Law

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The parents of O.D., B.D., and G.D. appealed a circuit court order terminating their parental rights over their children, on the ground that they failed to correct the conditions leading to a finding of neglect. They argued the circuit court violated their due process rights by terminating their parental rights without requiring the New Hampshire Division for Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) to file new abuse or neglect petitions against them after the court issued an ex parte order removing the children from their home during ongoing neglect proceedings and by failing to appoint counsel for them during the neglect proceedings. Finding no abuse of discretion or other reversible error, the New Hampshire Supreme Court affirmed. View "In re O.D." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Conduent State & Local Solutions, Inc. (Conduent) appealed a superior court order denying Conduent’s request for a declaration that defendant New Hampshire Department of Transportation (DOT) exceeded its statutory authority, and, therefore, violated the separation of powers doctrine, by procuring from defendant Cubic Transportation Systems, Inc. (Cubic) a new system to support DOT’s electronic collection of tolls, using the “best value” method for evaluating competing bids. On appeal, Conduent argued the DOT had no statutory authority to procure the new system because procurement authority was given to the New Hampshire Department of Administrative Services (DAS). Alternatively, Conduent claimed that even if the DOT had statutory authority to procure the new system, it lacked authority to use the “best value” method for evaluating competing bids. Finding no reversible error, the New Hampshire Supreme Court affirmed denial of the declaration. View "Conduent State & Local Solutions, Inc. v. New Hampshire Department of Transportation" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff San-Ken Homes, Inc. (San-Ken) appealed a superior court decision requiring it to apply for registration or exemption with defendant New Hampshire Attorney General, Consumer Protection and Antitrust Bureau (Bureau), under the Land Sales Full Disclosure Act (Act), and to make certain improvements to Old Beaver Road in the Oakwood Common subdivision in New Ipswich. The Act allows for exemptions from registration under certain circumstances. In October 2006, the Bureau granted a certificate of exemption to the development in which Old Beaver Road was located, 112 Chestnut, “as to the offer and sale of” the 16 lots “because of the limited character of the offering and because the subdivision is adequately regulated by municipal ordinances.” In June 2014, San-Ken, which had no relationship to 112 Chestnut, purchased nine undeveloped lots at a foreclosure sale and recorded title to the property. The New Ipswich Planning Board held a hearing on San-Ken’s application for modification of the Board’s original conditions for Old Beaver Road. As an alternative to the Board revoking the subdivision approval, Town counsel recommended that it entertain a motion to waive the prior road completion requirements and specifications on the condition that San-Ken complete certain improvements to the road at its own expense. San-Ken satisfied all of the Board’s requirements. San-Ken later appealed to the trial court challenging the Bureau's authority under the Act to require it to be registered or exempted and to require it to make improvements to Old Beaver Road. When that challenge was unsuccessful, San-Ken appealed to the New Hampshire Supreme Court, arguing the trial court erred in: (1) applying a mistaken standard of review; (2) finding San-Ken to be a successor subdivider under the Act; and (3) determining that the Bureau was within its authority to require San-Ken to further improve Old Beaver Road as a condition of obtaining a certificate of exemption. The Supreme Court concluded the trial court erred as a matter of law in finding that the Act authorized the Bureau to require San-Ken to complete Old Beaver Road to the standard promised by 112 Chestnut as a condition of obtaining a certificate of exemption. View "San-Ken Homes, Inc. v. New Hampshire Attorney General" on Justia Law

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This case arose out of the termination of petitioner James Cole by the New Hampshire Department of Information Technology (DOIT). One of Cole’s initial assignments was overhauling an Account Security Form (ASF). This was intended to be a short-term project. Although some aspects of Cole’s work on this project were satisfactory, his incorrect processing of other aspects of the overhaul resulted in audits being conducted on the forms to ensure accuracy. Cole was also initially assigned a “Wireless Access Point” Project (WAP). This project required communication with customers who were requesting installation of a WAP, and coordination with the persons who were to install the WAPs. However, Cole’s communications were inadequate. This resulted in customers not knowing how to use the WAPs after they were installed, or even that the WAPs had been installed. Cole was given three warnings over the course of his employment. The New Hampshire Personnel Appeals Board (PAB) upheld Cole’s termination. On appeal, Cole argued his termination did not comply with New Hampshire Administrative Rules, Per 1002.08 because he did not receive the three letters in accordance with New Hampshire Administrative Rules, Per 1002.04 for the same or substantially similar conduct or offense. DOIT argued the New Hampshire Supreme Court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to decide this case, and, in the alternative, that Cole’s termination complied with Per 1002.08 and Per 1002.04. Finding that it had jurisdiction, the Supreme Court affirmed the PAB’s decision. View "Appeal of James Cole" on Justia Law

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Petitioner State Employees’ Association of New Hampshire, Inc., SEIU, Local 1984 (Union), appealed a New Hampshire Public Employee Labor Relations Board (PELRB) order finding respondent State of New Hampshire did not commit an unfair labor practice by prospectively eliminating salary enhancements for newly hired Sununu Youth Services Center (SYSC) employees under the parties’ collective bargaining agreement (CBA). Based on its review of the PELRB record, the New Hampshire Supreme Court concluded that, as a matter of law, the Union’s withdrawal of a proposal during the mediation phase that led to the adoption of the 2015-2017 CBA established that elimination of the salary enhancements was a bargained-for result of the new CBA. View "Appeal of State Employees' Association of New Hampshire, Inc., SEIU, Local 1984" on Justia Law

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Petitioners Northern New England Telephone Operations, LLC and FairPoint Logistics, Inc. (collectively, “FairPoint”), appealed the final decision of the New Hampshire Department of Employment Security (NHES), claiming that it erred in rulings that: (1) upheld the decision of the commissioner of NHES to reopen the ruling of the appeal tribunal which found (a) certain unionized employees of FairPoint (claimants) were not entitled to collect unemployment benefits during the period they were on strike against the company because the strike resulted in a “stoppage of work” and (b) strike pay received by some of the workers constituted income deductible from their benefits; (2) affirmed a subsequent order of a second appeal tribunal which found that benefits were payable because the strike did not result in a stoppage of work; and (3) reversed the second tribunal’s determination that strike pay was deductible from benefits. After review, the New Hampshire Supreme Court reversed the appellate board’s decision, reinstated in part the order of the first appeal tribunal, and found it unnecessary to address the issue of strike pay. The Court found the commissioner erred in his determination that the first tribunal’s decision resulted from a mistake of law. Contrary to the commissioner’s view that the tribunal based its decision merely on what he described (but did not define) as a “negative impact” analysis, the Court concluded the tribunal had sufficient evidence before it from which it could find that the strike resulted in a substantial curtailment of FairPoint’s operations and thus constituted a stoppage of work under RSA 282-A:36. For the same reason, the Court also concluded the appellate board erred as a matter of law insofar as it ultimately upheld the commissioner’s decision to reopen and did not affirm the decision of the first tribunal with respect to the stoppage of work issue. Because the stoppage of work disqualified claimants from receiving unemployment benefits during the period when they were on strike, it was unnecessary to address the issue of whether the strike pay received by some of the claimants constituted deductible wages. View "Appeal of FairPoint Logistics, Inc." on Justia Law

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The State of New Hampshire appealed a superior court order denying a motion for a bench warrant filed by the New Hampshire Division of Administrative Services, Office of Cost Containment (OCC) to secure the appearance of defendant John Brawley, at a show cause hearing. Defendant was charged with two criminal offenses that were transferred to the Superior Court for a jury trial. Because defendant was indigent, the trial court appointed a public defender to represent him. At that time, the trial court issued an order defendant to reimburse the OCC for the costs and expenses associated with his public defense and directed him to contact the OCC, within 5 days of the court’s order, to verify his mailing address and to make payment arrangements. The trial court set bail at $50; defendant paid that and confirmed his address. OCC thereafter requested another hearing, alleging defendant made no other payments toward his obligation. Hearing was set, and defendant again failed to appear. The trial court denied OCC's motion for a second bench warrant, finding he was "unconditionally discharged" from the criminal case, and that it lacked jurisdiction to enforce its repayment order or require the defendant to show cause why he cannot, or should not, be required to reimburse the OCC for the costs associated with his public defense. The New Hampshire determined the trial court misinterpreted RSA 604-A:9, I-c, contradicting the plain meaning of the statute. "[A]n OCC obligation constitutes an 'assessment' under RSA RSA 604-A:2-f. We have ruled that RSA 604-A:9 applies to acquitted defendants who have received the benefit of appointed counsel at the State’s expense. It logically follows that the procedural protections set forth in RSA 604-A:2-f similarly apply to indigent defendants confronting a final hearing for nonpayment of the costs associated with the services of court-appointed counsel - regardless of the outcome of the underlying criminal matter." The trial court's rulings were reversed and the matter remanded for further proceedings. View "New Hampshire. v. Brawley" on Justia Law