Articles Posted in Government & Administrative Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment entered by the superior court upholding the final agency decision of the Department of Health and Human Services denying Appellant’s application for food supplement benefits. The Department denied Appellant’s application for food benefits based on language in the public law not present within the statutory text. The language at issue contained a fiscal limitation of $261,384 and a temporal limitation - June 30, 2015 - on the availability of funding for benefits for persons otherwise eligible under Me. Rev. Stat. 22, 3104-A(1)(D) (Paragraph D). The Supreme Judicial Court concluded that the Legislature intended for Paragraph D to be a permanent exception to the general ineligibility of noncitizen for food assistance under section 3104-(A)(1) and that the temporal and fiscal limitations contained in P.L 2013, ch. 368, section 00-14 applied only to the fiscal years ending June 30, 2013, June 30-2015, and June 30, 2015 and not beyond June 30, 2015. View "Manirakiza v. Department of Health & Human Services" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court vacated in part and affirmed in part the judgment of the superior court upholding redactions made by the Department of Corrections in certain documents it sent to Plaintiff pursuant to Plaintiff’s Freedom of Access Act (FOAA) request. Plaintiff appealed, arguing that the Department failed to comply with FOAA because the redactions were improper. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment as to certain documents and vacated the judgment as to other documents, holding that select portions of the produced documents were improperly redacted and select portions of the produced documents were properly redacted. View "Anctil v. Department of Corrections" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the decision of the Workers’ Compensation Board Appellate Division affirming the hearing officer’s decree denying Appellant’s petition for award. On appeal, Appellant claimed that he was an employee of Regional Transportation Program (RTP), and therefore, he was entitled to receive benefits for a work-related injury. The hearing officer determined that Appellant was not an RTP employee for purposes of the Workers’ Compensation Act. The Appellate Division affirmed. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) it was not unreasonable for the Appellate Division to conclude that the reimbursement provided to Appellant did not constitute payment for his services; and (2) therefore, the Appellate Division properly found that Appellant was not an employee for purposes of the Act. View "Huff v. Regional Transportation Program" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the State Board of Property Tax Review granting Emera Maine’s request for a property tax abatement for tax year 2012 pursuant to Me. Rev. Stat. 36, 841(1). Emera Maine was in the business of transporting and distributing electric power over transmission lines. The Board found that Emera’s abatement applications concerned an issue of error or illegality in assessment amounting to double taxation. The superior court affirmed the decision of the Board. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that the evidence supported the Board’s finding that Emera’s error in estimating a value for and reporting ownership of a transmission line that Emera did not own resulted in an “illegality, error or irregularity in assessment” rather than an “error in the valuation of property,” thus entitling Emera to an abatement pursuant to Me. Rev. Stat. 36, 841(1). View "Town of Eddington v. Emera Maine" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court vacated in part the judgment of the superior court affirming in part the Department of Environmental Protection’s partial denial of Appellants’ Freedom of Access Act (FOAA) request for public records related to Dubois Livestock, Inc. While the Department provided a substantial set of records to Appellants, it denied access to records that would be privileged against discovery or use as evidence in the course of a court proceeding. The Supreme Judicial Court (1) affirmed the superior court’s judgment as to the records that were withheld pursuant to the work product privilege; but (2) vacated the superior court’s judgment as to the records that were withheld based on the informant identity privilege, holding that there were factual disputes regarding findings necessary to a determination that there was “just and proper cause” for the Department’s withholding of records containing the identities of complainants. View "Dubois v. Department of Environmental Protection" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment of the superior court concluding that a provider’s participation in MaineCare constitutes a “license,” the revocation of which invokes the district court jurisdiction. The superior court declared that the district court, and not the Department of Health and Human Services, had exclusive original jurisdiction over the decision to terminate a doctor’s participation in, and reimbursement from, MaineCare and any other medical assistance programs in the state of Maine. The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment entered in favor of the doctor and remanded the matter, holding that the Department’s decision to terminate the doctor’s participation in the MaineCare program did not fall within the licensing decisions over which the legislature gave the district court original and exclusive jurisdiction. View "Doane v. Department of Health & Human Services" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed an order of the Public Utilities Commission granting in part and denying in part a petition for a certificate of public convenience and necessity (CPCN) to operate as a competitive local exchange carrier. Enhanced Communications of Northern New England, Inc. appealed. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) after after finding that Enhanced met all three criteria set forth in section 4(A) of chapter 280 of the Commission’s regulations, the Commission could nonetheless deny Enhanced’s petition for a CPCN on public interest grounds; and (2) the Commission lawfully denied Enhanced’s petition on public interest grounds. View "Enhanced Communications of Northern New England, Inc. v. Public Utilities Commission" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment of the superior court affirming the Cape Elizabeth Code Enforcement Officer’s (CEO) issuance of a building permit, holding that the CEO’s decision granting the permit lacked sufficient factual findings to permit meaningful review. The owner of property abutting the property at issue appealed the CEO’s grant of the building permit to the Town Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA). The ZBA affirmed the CEO’s decision. The superior court affirmed. The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the superior court’s judgment and remanded the matter, holding that the COE’s grant of the building permit was the operative decision and that decision lacked sufficient factual findings to permit meaningful appellate review. View "Appletree Cottage, LLC v. Town of Cape Elizabeth" on Justia Law

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Arthur Grief, a Bar Harbor resident, sent a letter to the Bar Harbor Town Council detailing allegations of misconduct by two of the Town’s councilors. Grief urged the Town Council to convene an investigatory hearing to determine whether the councilors’ conduct violated the Town Charter and consequently warranted forfeiture of their positions. The Council voted to enter an executive session to consult with the Town’s attorney regarding Grief’s letter. After the executive session, the council voted unanimously to pursue no further action, concluding that the allegations in the letter did not warrant further consideration by the Council. The superior court affirmed the actions of the Town and rejected Greif’s claims that the Council the provisions of Maine’s Freedom of Access Act (FOAA). The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that the Council neither violated the town charter nor the FOAA. View "Greif v. Town of Bar Harbor" on Justia Law

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In 2004, Michael Bailey began to receive partial incapacity benefits stemming from a workplace injury. In 2007, a hearing officer found that Bailey had reached maximum medical improvement (MMI) and that he had sustained an injury that resulted in a permanent impairment level of thirty-two percent. In 2013, the City of Lewiston filed a petition seeking review of the level of Bailey’s incapacity and a petition seeking to determine the extent of his permanent impairment. The hearing officer concluded that there was a change of circumstances warranting a new permanent impairment finding and reduced Bailey’s permanent impairment level to zero percent. The decree thus terminated Bailey’s entitlement to further compensation. The Workers’ Compensation Board Appellate Division vacated the hearing officer’s decree, ruling that the 2007 determination of permanent impairment as of the date of MMI was final, and therefore, the doctrine of res judicata barred relitigation of that issue. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Appellate Division did not err in concluding that relitigation of Bailey’s permanent impairment level was barred by res judicata principles. View "Bailey v. City of Lewiston" on Justia Law