Articles Posted in New Hampshire Supreme Court

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Plaintiffs David and Katherine Dietz appealed a superior court order that upheld a zoning board of adjustment (ZBA) decision for defendant Town of Tuftonboro, which granted intervenor Sawyer Point Realty, LLC (collectively with Sawyer Point Realty Trust, its predecessor in interest, Sawyer Point), two equitable waivers related to two additions Sawyer Point constructed on its house in violation of the Town’s zoning ordinance requiring a fifty-foot setback from Lake Winnipesaukee. Sawyer Point’s house was located along the shore of Lake Winnipesaukee and within the Town’s Lakefront Residential Zoning District (District); the Dietzes owned the abutting property, also within the District. In 1999, Sawyer Point added a second floor addition over the eastern portion of the first floor of its house, aware that the existing structure was located within the setback, and that a second floor addition would also be within the setback. Prior to construction, Sawyer Point submitted a building permit application to the Town containing a rough sketch of the existing house, which also showed that the house was situated less than fifty feet from the lake. The Town’s building inspector granted the building permit, noting the addition would cause “no change in footprint.” In 2008-2009, Sawyer Point constructed a second addition to its house, again receiving permission from the Town to construct. In February 2014, Sawyer Point commissioned a survey which revealed, in regard to the 2008 Addition, more of the new structure was within the setback than had been represented to the ZBA. In December 2014, the Dietzes, after learning of this discrepancy, sought injunctive relief against Sawyer Point, claiming that Sawyer Point had built within the setback without obtaining the required approvals, and requesting that the court order the removal of the unlawful construction. The New Hampshire Supreme Court concluded the trial court did not err when it sustained the ZBA and declined to weigh the cumulative effect of building within the lakefront setback throughout the Town. Moreover, relying on the evidence before it, the trial court agreed with the ZBA that there was little or no public benefit to be gained by correcting the violations. Because the Dietzes have failed to show that this finding was unreasonable or unsupported by the evidence, the trial court's decision was upheld. View "Dietz v. Town of Tuftonboro" on Justia Law

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Petitioner Kyle Guillemette challenged a determination by the Administrative Appeals Unit (AAU) of the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) that the notice requirements set forth in RSA 171-A:8, III (2014) and New Hampshire Administrative Rules, He-M 310.07 did not apply when Monadnock Worksource notified Monadnock Developmental Services of its intent to discontinue providing services to petitioner because that act did not constitute a “termination” of services within the meaning of the applicable rules. Petitioner received developmental disability services funded by the developmental disability Medicaid waiver program. MDS was the “area agency,” which coordinated and developed petitioner’s individual service plan. Worksource provides services to disabled individuals pursuant to a “Master Agreement” with MDS. Worksource began providing day services to the petitioner in August 2012. On March 31, 2017, Worksource notified MDS, in writing, that Worksource was terminating services to petitioner “as of midnight on April 30.” The letter to MDS stated that “[t]he Board of Directors and administration of . . . Worksource feel this action is in the best interest of [the petitioner] and of [Worksource].” Petitioner’s mother, who served as his guardian, was informed by MDS of Worksource’s decision on April 3. The mother asked for reconsideration, but the Board declined, writing that because the mother “repeatedly and recently expressed such deep dissatisfaction with our services to your son, the Board and I feel that you and [petitioner] would be better served by another agency . . . .” Thereafter, petitioner filed a complaint with the Office of Client and Legal Services alleging that his services had been terminated improperly and requesting that they remain in place pending the outcome of the investigation of his complaint. Because the New Hampshire Supreme Court concluded that the AAU’s ruling was not erroneous, it affirmed. View "Petition of Kyle Guillemette" on Justia Law

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Petitioner Lakes Region Water Company, Inc. (Lakes Region), appealed a New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission (Commission) order requiring Lakes Region to refund a second base charge it had imposed on its customer, Robert Mykytiuk, and prohibiting it from “imposing such charges unless and until they are included in the company’s tariff.” Lakes Region learned that Mykytiuk had constructed an additional structure on his property. To supply the new structure with water, Mykytiuk tapped into his primary residence’s service connection. Shortly after learning of the new construction, Lakes Region sent Mykytiuk an application for new service for the additional structure and requested to inspect the water service connection. Despite concluding that the new structure required a separate service connection, Lakes Region chose not to install one at that time. Rather, Lakes Region began billing Mykytiuk for an additional “base charge,” which referred to the “[m]inimum charge per customer per quarter” scheduled in Lakes Region’s tariff. Mykytiuk complained to the Commission, asserting that he was not required to have a second service connection. The Commission treated the matter as a formal complaint and held a hearing on the merits. At the hearing, Mykytiuk argued that Lakes Region could not charge him a separate base charge or require him to install a separate meter for the additional structure because neither was provided for in Lakes Region’s tariff. Finding no reversible error in the Commission’s order, the New Hampshire Supreme Court affirmed. View "Appeal of Lakes Region Water Company, Inc." on Justia Law

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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