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The State and other defendants the New Hampshire Department of Education; Margaret Wood Hassan, individually; Christopher T. Sununu, as Governor; Virginia M. Barry, individually; and Frank Edelblut, as Commissioner of the New Hampshire Department of Education, appealed a superior court order granting plaintiffs Bedford School District and William Foote (collectively, “Bedford”), attorney’s fees in a case that Bedford had filed to recover adequate education funding that the State withheld in fiscal year 2016 because of a statutory limit on state funding imposed under RSA 198:41, III(b) (Supp. 2015) (repealed 2015, repeal effective July 1, 2017). On appeal, the State argued that because the trial court specifically declined to find that the State had acted in bad faith in this litigation, the trial court unsustainably exercised its discretion in awarding attorney’s fees. The State also argued that Bedford waived its right to attorney’s fees when it accepted education funds appropriated by a bill that contained a waiver provision. The New Hampshire Supreme Court found after review of the superior court record, that Bedford waived its right to an award of attorney’s fees, and thus reversed the superior court’s order. View "Bedford School District v. New Hampshire" on Justia Law

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Sixteen-year-old E.G. was petitioned as a delinquent for having committed the offenses of falsifying physical evidence, and possession of drugs. The petitions also alleged that E.G.’s case had been screened and deemed inappropriate for diversion because E.G. was “being petitioned as a delinquent for a felony level charge, and has several previous police contacts where he was involved in disturbances, criminal mischief and reckless conduct.” E.G. filed a motion to suppress, among other things, “all evidence obtained in violation of [his] right against self-incrimination.” Specifically, he contended that he had been subjected to custodial interrogation by police without having been informed of his rights in accordance with Miranda and New Hampshire v. Benoit, 126 N.H. 6 (1985). The trial court denied the motion. Considering the totality of the circumstances of the encounter, the New Hampshire Supreme Court concluded a reasonable juvenile in E.G.’s position would not have believed himself to be in custody, and therefore, that E.G. was not in custody for Miranda purposes when he made the incriminating statements to the officer. View "In re E.G." on Justia Law

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Defendant David Martinko appealed a superior court order denying his motion to vacate guilty pleas he entered in 2014 to three felony informations. The informations charged him with aggravated felonious sexual assault under the pattern sexual assault statute. He argued on appeal to the New Hampshire Supreme Court: (1) the informations violated his state and federal constitutional protections against double jeopardy; and (2) his trial counsel provided ineffective assistance because he did not advise the defendant of these violations. After review, the Supreme Court determined that under the federal Constitution, the State was permitted to seek separate convictions on the charged informations. Further, the Court determined trial counsel was not ineffective for failing to advise defendant his pleas were in violation of the State and Federal Double Jeopardy Clauses. View "New Hampshire v. Martinko" on Justia Law

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Petitioner Eric McAndrews appealed an order recommended by a Marital Master (DalPra, M.) and approved by the Circuit Court which dismissed his petition to modify a parenting plan on inconvenient forum grounds. The parenting plan pertained to petitioner’s child with whom he shares custody with respondent Sachet Woodson. On appeal, petitioner argued that the trial court erred in dismissing his petition because it conducted an improper and incomplete inconvenient forum analysis pursuant to RSA 458-A:18 (Supp. 2017), a provision of the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA). In vacating the circuit court's order, the New Hampshire Supreme Court found the order lacked a meaningful discussion of the factors that it relied upon in reaching its conclusion and its failure to address each specific factor required by the UCCJEA was untenable and unreasonable to the prejudice of petitioner’s case, and, therefore, its decision that Indiana is the more convenient forum constituted an unsustainable exercise of its discretion. View "In the Matter of McAndrews and Woodson" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Steven Grady appealed a superior court order granting summary judgment to defendants, Jones Lang LaSalle Construction Company, Inc. (Jones Lang), and Liberty Mutual Insurance Company and Liberty Mutual Group, Inc. (collectively, “Liberty Mutual”), in this tort action for damages on the ground that defendants did not owe plaintiff a duty of care to provide supervision, training, or safety equipment. In 2012, Liberty Mutual contracted with Jones Lang to complete a construction project on premises owned by Liberty Mutual in Dover (the general contract). In January 2013, Jones Lang subcontracted the roofing work for the project (the subcontract) to A&M Roofing and Sheet Metal Company, Inc. (A&M). Plaintiff was an A&M employee when A&M began working on the project. On a cold, windy February 21, 2013, plaintiff began to perform flashing and insulation work on the roof. Because of the cold weather, plaintiff wore cotton gloves to keep his hands warm while he worked. After igniting a torch a few times with a lighter without incident, he lit the torch again as a gust of wind came, and the glove on his right hand ignited. As a result, plaintiff was injured. Sometime thereafter, plaintiff received workers’ compensation benefits from A&M for his injuries. In February 2016, he brought the present action for negligence against defendants. In May 2017, the trial court granted summary judgment to the defendants, ruling that they did not owe a duty of care to the plaintiff. Finding no reversible error in that judgment, the New Hampshire Supreme Court affirmed. View "Grady v. Jones Lang Lasalle Construction Co., Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Cheryl Moore, M.D. appealed a superior court order granting summary judgment to defendants attorney Charles Grau and Upton Hatfield, LLP, on plaintiff’s claims for legal malpractice, violation of the New Hampshire Consumer Protection Act, and entitlement to an accounting and forfeiture of fees. Plaintiff was a member of Young & Novis, P.A. (Y&N), along with her partner, Dr. Glenn Littell. Y&N provided pathology services to the intervenor, Wentworth-Douglass Hospital (WDH), until WDH elected to terminate Y&N’s services. Prior to the termination, an attorney acting on Y&N’s behalf solicited trial counsel for a potential wrongful termination suit against WDH. Plaintiff retained Grau and his firm. On the date for Y&N’s contract was terminated, plaintiff allegedly permitted her husband, Dr. Thomas Moore, to access Y&N computers connected to WDH’s network. Plaintiff’s husband and Littell then downloaded confidential documents and destroyed certain electronic data. WDH sued plaintiff, her husband, and Littell in federal district court. Years later, the parties reached a tentative settlement. During negotiations preceding the tentative settlement, the hospital defendants were jointly represented by Grau and Upton Hatfield. In mid- August, however, plaintiff hired a separate attorney, Peter Callaghan, to represent her in finalizing the settlement. Plaintiff ultimately sued Grau and the firm for malpractice; the trial court granted summary judgment, concluding plaintiff’s claims against defendants “originate[d] or [grew] out of or flow from her relationship with WDH,” and, therefore, fell within the prohibition of Paragraph 4 of the Settlement Agreement. Having determined that the Settlement Agreement barred the suit, the court found it unnecessary to address the defendants’ remaining arguments or to decide a pending motion to quash. Plaintiff unsuccessfully moved for reconsideration. The New Hampshire Supreme Court determined the settlement agreement, by its terms, did not cover plaintiff's malpractice claims against Grau or the firm. Therefore, summary judgment was improperly granted, and the Court reversed. View "Moore v. Grau" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs owned approximately 0.3 acres on the shore of Lake Waukewan in New Hampton. Per the town’s zoning ordinance, the property was subject to a twenty-foot side yard setback and a thirty-five-foot front setback along the road. It was also subject to a fifty-foot setback along the lake shore pursuant to the Shoreland Water Quality Protection Act. The property was sloped and contained a house, a deck, and three plastic, movable sheds used to store various home and recreational items. Plaintiffs sought to replace the plastic sheds with a ten-by-sixteen-foot permanent shed, which they planned to construct on the western side of the property. The proposal would have placed the permanent shed within the twenty-foot side setback. Accordingly, plaintiffs sought a variance from the side setback requirement. They appealed when the Superior Court upheld the denial of their requested variance by the Town of New Hampton Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA). They argued the proposed shed would not alter the essential character of the neighborhood because several other properties in the neighborhood had outbuildings within the setbacks. They maintained the existence of these outbuildings on neighboring properties, along with the lack of objection from the western abutters and the town fire chief, demonstrated the proposed shed posed no threat to the public health, safety, or welfare. The superior court concluded that the ZBA’s denial of plaintiffs’ variance on the public interest and spirit of the ordinance criteria was not unreasonable or unlawful. Given the evidence before the ZBA, and the considerable deference reflected in its standard of review, the New Hampshire Supreme Court could not find the superior court erred in concluding that the ZBA acted reasonably and lawfully in finding that plaintiffs’ requested variance would violate the spirit of the ordinance and would be contrary to the public interest. View "Perreault v. Town of New Hampton" on Justia Law

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Defendant Michael Hanes appealed after a jury convicted him for improper influence. The charges arose over Pembroke New Hampshire's Department of Public Works plowed the town's roads and sidewalks; defendant contacted David Jodoin, town administrator, and complained about the snow removal on his street and the fact that he had been “plowed in.” Defendant left an expletive-laden voicemail for Jodoin. Jodoin testified that defendant’s message “started out pretty calm, reasonable, and then it just went from like zero to 60 and accelerated within like three seconds. It was loud, yelling, screaming, threatening, wanted somebody fired, and then the threats came in.” After listening to the message, Jodoin contacted the police because “[a]ny time anybody . . . threatens another individual, that . . . becomes a police issue,” and because he was concerned about the safety of town employees. Defendant argued on appeal there was insufficient evidence to sustain the verdict, that the speech underlying his conviction enjoyed constitutional protection, and that the trial court committed plain error in failing to sua sponte strike part of a witness’s testimony. Finding no reversible error, the New Hampshire Supreme Court affirmed. View "New Hampshire v. Hanes" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Brandon Stachulski brought suit against defendant Apple New England, LLC (operating an Applebee's Neighborhood Bar and Grill), under a theory of strict products liability alleging that he contracted salmonella by eating a hamburger at defendant’s restaurant. Defendant disputed the allegation that the hamburger was the source of plaintiff’s salmonella illness and asserted that plaintiff’s pet lizard or other food sources could just as likely be the cause of his illness. Following a three-day trial a jury returned a general verdict in plaintiff’s favor, awarding him $750,000 in damages. On appeal, defendant argued the trial court erred by: (1) admitting unfairly prejudicial evidence; (2) admitting the plaintiff’s expert’s testimony; (3) submitting the issue of causation to the jury; (4) instructing the jury on awarding hedonic and future pain and suffering damages; (5) permitting the plaintiff’s counsel to make certain statements during his opening and closing arguments; and (6) denying its request for remittitur. Finding no reversible error, the New Hampshire Supreme Court affirmed. View "Stachulski v. Apple New England, LLC" on Justia Law

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The New Hampshire Secretary of State transmitted a certified copy of a resolution of the Governor and Executive Council requesting an opinion of the New Hampshire Supreme Court regarding House Bill 1264, an act to amend the definition of “resident” and “residence” in RSA 21:6 and 21:6-a. The Supreme Court concluded the request was proper for it to issue an advisory opinion. The problem that gave rise to the proposed change in the law of residency set forth in HB 1264 was that the definitions were interpreted to impose requirements that went beyond the traditional definition of “domicile. The result – counterintuitive as it may be – is that, notwithstanding the ‘resident’ and ‘residence’ labels used in their titles, to satisfy the current definitions… requires a degree of connection to a place that is greater than that required to be domiciled in this state for voting purposes pursuant to RSA 654:1, I (2016).” To correct this problem, HB 1264 removed the words “for the indefinite future” from the text of RSA 21:6 and :6-a. If HB 1264 became law, out-of-state students who come to New Hampshire to attend a postsecondary institution or others, who were able to establish a “sufficient attachment to the state” to satisfy the requirements of domicile, would be entitled to vote in New Hampshire. “There is nothing unfair or unconstitutional about state laws that require persons to make this choice.” View "Opinion of the Justices (Definition of Resident and Residence)" on Justia Law