Articles Posted in Government & Administrative Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court affirming a decision of the Town of North Haven Board of Appeals that upheld a permit issued by the Town of North Haven Planning Board to Nebo Lodge, Inc. and Nebo Real Estate, LLC. The court held (1) the North Haven Board of Appeals (BOA) did not err in interpreting various provisions in North Haven’s ordinance; and (2) the permit review process did not violate the due process rights of Steven Wolfram, who opposed the applications, because there was a dearth of evidence that the BOA decision was the product of bias or procedural unfairness. View "Wolfram v. Town of North Haven" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court affirming the Town of Kittery Planning Board’s approval of a site plan application for development of a hotel on Route 1. The court held (1) the Board’s finding that a pitched roof for the building was not practicable was supported by substantial evidence, and the Board was authorized to approve a flat-roof design under the circumstances; (2) regarding the height of the building, the Board did not err in its application of the zoning ordinance’s height restrictions; and (3) the Board’s decision regarding the roof design and building height did not amount to a variance. View "Balano v. Town of Kittery" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the order of the Maine Public Utilities Commission approving a stipulation regarding Efficiency Maine Trust’s Third Triennial Plan for energy efficiency, holding that the Commission did not err in interpreting and applying the relevant statutes. The Conservation Law Foundation appealed from the Commission’s order approving the stipulation, arguing that the order and the terms of the stipulation disregarded statutory mandates set forth in the Efficiency Maine Trust Act. See Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 35-A, 10101-10123. The Supreme Judicial Court held that the Commission’s order and the stipulation did not violate statutory mandates for electric energy efficiency or the statutory mandate to assess each natural gas utility an amount to capture all maximum achievable cost-effective energy efficiency savings. View "Conservation Law Foundation v. Public Utilities Commission" on Justia Law

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Elizabeth Jalbert, a teacher, filed an application for disability retirement benefits with the Maine Public Employees Retirement System (MPERS) after she twice fell and slipped on ice, hitting her head each time. An Executive Director’s designee ultimately denied Jalbert’s application. Jalbert appealed to the MPERS Board of Trustees. The hearing officer issued a recommended final decision concluding that Jalbert had not satisfied her burden of proving that her conditions made it impossible to perform the duties of her employment position. The Board adopted the hearing officer’s decision in full. The superior court affirmed. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that the record, when considered as a whole, did not compel the determination that Jalbert was disabled within the meaning of Me. Rev. Stat. 5, 17921(1), and therefore, the Board did not err in denying Jalbert’s application for disability retirement benefits. View "Jalbert v. Maine Public Employees Retirement System" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs were employed by Shaw’s Supermarkets, Inc. when their employment was terminated as part of a reduction in force. The reduction in force affected more older employees than younger employees. Plaintiffs filed complaints with the Maine Human Rights Commission alleging age discrimination in violation of the Maine Human Rights Act (MHRA). A Commission investor applied the “business necessity” framework to analyze Plaintiffs’ allegations before recommending that the Commission find reasonable grounds to believe that Shaw’s had impermissibly discriminated based on age pursuant to a disparate impact theory. The Commission voted unanimously to adopt the investigator’s analysis and recommendations. Plaintiffs then filed a complaint alleging unlawful employment discrimination based on age pursuant to the MHRA. The federal district court certified to the Supreme Court the question of what framework of proof applies to a claim of disparate impact age discrimination brought pursuant to the MHRA. The Supreme Court answered that a claim for disparate impact age discrimination pursuant to the MHRA is evaluated according to the “business necessity” standard, rather than the “reasonable factor other than age” standard or some other standard. View "Scamman v. Shaw's Supermarkets, Inc." on Justia Law

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After William Dean was involuntarily hospitalized, the Department of Health and Human Services was appointed as Dean’s temporary public conservator. Thereafter, the Department sold some of Dean’s property. Dean’s sister, Claire Perry, filed a complaint against the Department and certain state individuals, asserting claims arising out of the Department’s management of Dean’s property during the public conservatorship. Later, Pamela Vose was appointed as Dean’s conservator. Vose filed a cross-claim and then a separate action against the Department, alleging breach of fiduciary duty. The court consolidated the two cases. The Department and the individual state defendants moved for summary judgment, asserting sovereign immunity. The court entered a summary judgment in favor of the defendants on most claims but denied the Department’s motions for summary judgment on Vose’s claim for breach of fiduciary duty in both cases, concluding that the Maine Probate Court waived sovereign immunity and that the Department was subject to suit in tort when acting as a public conservator. The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the order denying the Department’s motions for summary judgment, holding that the Department is immune from the breach of fiduciary duty claims asserted in these cases because the Probate Code does not expressly waive sovereign immunity and the Department did not waive immunity. View "Perry v. Dean" on Justia Law

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After a hearing, the State Board of Nursing found that John S. Zablotny had violated his professional duties and revoked his nursing license for two years. The district court affirmed. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment and remanded for further proceedings, concluding that the district court erred in conducting an appellate-type review. On remand, the district court concluded that Zablotny had engaged in activities that constituted professional misconduct but also concluded that the Board failed to prove other allegations of professional misconduct. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that the district court’s findings supported the conclusion that the court was not compelled, as a matter of law, to find that Zablotny violated Board rules or professional standards of care. View "Zablotny v. State Board of Nursing" on Justia Law

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The Town of Cumberland applied for site plan review of a proposed development involving Broad Cove Reserve property that it owned. The Town of Cumberland Board of Adjustment and Appeals determined that the Town’s proposed development was permitted within the Low Density Residential district as a municipal use. The Estate of Merrill P. Robbins, which owned land abutting the Broad Cove Reserve property, appealed, arguing that the Town’s development was prohibited under the terms of the relevant ordinance. The superior court affirmed, concluding that the plain language of the ordinance supported the Board of Adjustment and Appeals’ determination. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that the meaning of “municipal use” as used in the ordinance was unambiguous and that the Town’s proposed facility was allowed under the terms of the ordinance. View "Estate of Merrill P. Robbins v. Town of Cumberland" on Justia Law

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The Town of Cumberland applied for site plan review of a proposed development involving Broad Cove Reserve property that it owned. The Town of Cumberland Board of Adjustment and Appeals determined that the Town’s proposed development was permitted within the Low Density Residential district as a municipal use. The Estate of Merrill P. Robbins, which owned land abutting the Broad Cove Reserve property, appealed, arguing that the Town’s development was prohibited under the terms of the relevant ordinance. The superior court affirmed, concluding that the plain language of the ordinance supported the Board of Adjustment and Appeals’ determination. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the meaning of “municipal use” as used in the ordinance was unambiguous and that the Town’s proposed facility was allowed under the terms of the ordinance. View "Estate of Merrill P. Robbins v. Town of Cumberland" on Justia Law

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After a public hearing, the Town of Stockton Spring’s Board of Selectman determined that a structure owned by Hollie Beal was a dangerous building or nuisance pursuant to Me. Rev. Stat. 17, 2851. The superior court affirmed the decision of the Board. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) Beal’s contention that the Board violated her due process rights when it allegedly denied her the opportunity to be heard, to cross-examine witnesses, and to have an impartial fact-finder was unavailing; and (2) there was substantial evidence in the record to support the Board’s findings. View "Beal v. Town of Stockton Springs" on Justia Law