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Defendant Jason Candello was convicted by jury for second-degree assault. He appealed, arguing primarily the State offered insufficient evidence to prove the victim suffered serious bodily injury. He also argued he received ineffective assistance of trial counsel, and as such, the trial court erred in denying him a new trial. After review, the New Hampshire Supreme Court found no reversible error from the conviction, and affirmed. View "New Hampshire v. Candello" on Justia Law

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The State of New Hampshire moved to enforce administrative subpoenas served on defendants Actavis Pharma, Inc., Endo Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Purdue Pharma L.P., and Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc. The State was investigating defendants’ role in allegedly causing health care providers to prescribe opioids to treat chronic pain. Defendants resisted, arguing the Office of the Attorney General’s (OAG) engagement of outside counsel was unlawful. In addition, defendants moved for a protective order, seeking to “bar the Attorney General from engaging contingent fee counsel to: (a) participate in or assume responsibility for any aspect of the State’s investigation of alleged violations of the Consumer Protection Act . . . ; or (b) participate in or assume responsibility for any subsequent enforcement action pertaining to alleged CPA violations.” Defendants argued that the OAG’s fee agreements with the firm Cohen Milstein: (1) violated RSA 21-G:22 and :23 (2012) (amended 2016); (2) violated New Hampshire common law; (3) were ultra vires because the OAG did not comply with RSA 7:12 (2013) (amended 2016) or :6-f (Supp. 2016); (4) violated the doctrine of separation of powers; (5) violated the New Hampshire Rules of Professional Conduct; and (6) violated due process under the New Hampshire and United States Constitutions. The State replied that an objection to the Attorney General’s use of outside counsel was not appropriate justification for refusing to comply with lawful subpoenas, and that defendants lacked standing to raise that complaint. The trial court denied the State’s motion to enforce the subpoenas and granted the defendants’ motion for a protective order “to the extent that the OAG and Cohen Milstein’s contingency fee agreement is invalid.” The trial court determined that the defendants had demonstrated standing to bring their claims, that the fee agreement was void, and therefore denied the State’s motion to enforce the subpoenas on that basis. The New Hampshire Supreme Court concluded defendants lacked standing to challenge the outside counsel agreement. It reversed and remanded the matter for further proceedings. View "New Hampshire v. Actavis Pharma, Inc." on Justia Law

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Petitioner’s receipt of developmental services was voluntary, and accordingly he retained the right to “seek a change in [developmental] services or withdraw entirely from the [developmental] service delivery system.” Petitioner Wayne Sawyer had a developmental disability and history of mental illness. He received state-administered developmental and mental health services and lived at the Laconia Designated Receiving Facility (Laconia DRF), a state-operated facility. Prior to his move to Laconia DRF, petitioner requested that his area agency affiliation for developmental services be changed to respondent Lakes Region Community Services (LRCS), the area agency serving Laconia. LRCS denied his request. Petitioner appealed to the Administrative Appeals Unit (AAU) of the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). The AAU affirmed, finding that the petitioner failed to prove that his move to Laconia DRF constituted a change in legal residence. On appeal, the petitioner argues that, under RSA chapter 171-A and its implementing regulations, he had a right to change his area agency affiliation to LRCS. LRCS counters that, because the petitioner remains institutionalized and was not conditionally discharged, his move was involuntary and, therefore, he had no right to change area agency affiliation. The New Hampshire Supreme Court agreed with petitioner that he had a right to change his area agency affiliation. View "Petition of Wayne Sawyer" on Justia Law

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The State appealed a superior court order that granted defendant Daniel Jesus Cora’s motion to suppress all evidence obtained from the warrantless entry by the police into his vehicle. On appeal, the State contended that the police were allowed to enter the vehicle without a warrant either under the federal automobile exception to the warrant requirement, which the State asked the New Hampshire Supreme Court adopt under the New Hampshire Constitution, or because the defendant had a diminished expectation of privacy in the interior space of his vehicle that is visible to the public. Alternatively, the State asked that the Supreme Court conclude New Hampshire v. Sterndale, 139 N.H. 445 (1995) has been abrogated by our decision in New Hampshire v. Goss, 150 N.H. 46 (2003), and that the Court adopt a “slightly more narrow exception” to the warrant requirement based upon the defendant’s diminished expectation of privacy in the “publicly visible areas of his car.” The Court declined to overrule Sterndale. However, it agreed that Sterndale was abrogated by Goss, at least in part, and that its abrogation required reevaluation of whether to adopt an automobile exception to the State warrant requirement. The Court recognized a limited automobile exception to the warrant requirement pursuant to which the police do not need to obtain a warrant to enter an automobile when the vehicle has been lawfully stopped while in transit and the police have probable cause to believe that a plainly visible item in the vehicle is contraband. In this case, the police did not need a warrant before entering defendant’s vehicle because the vehicle was subject to a lawful traffic stop, and the police had probable cause to believe that the baggie and cigarette, which were plainly visible, were drugs. Accordingly, the Supreme Court reversed and remanded. View "New Hampshire v. Cora" on Justia Law

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In this declaratory judgment proceeding, petitioner Exeter Hospital, Inc. (Exeter) appealed a superior court order denying its motion for partial summary judgment as to the amount at which coverage was triggered under an umbrella policy (the policy) issued to Exeter by respondent Steadfast Insurance Company (Steadfast). In the spring of 2012, an outbreak of Hepatitis C infections among patients serviced by Exeter’s cardiac catheterization lab led investigators to discover that a technician had spread the virus to patients “through a clandestine drug diversion scheme.” The technician allegedly injected certain drugs into his body by way of intravenous needles, then reused the needles on patients, thereby infecting them with the virus. Numerous lawsuits were lodged against Exeter by affected patients. Exeter was primarily insured through a Self-Insurance Trust Agreement (SIT), which provided professional liability coverage in the amount of $1 million per medical incident, with a $4 million annual aggregate cap. Exeter also maintained the policy with Steadfast, which provided excess health care professional liability coverage. Steadfast maintained that it would pay damages only in excess of the $100,000 retained limit for each medical incident. Exeter filed this proceeding, seeking a declaration that it was not required to pay $100,000 retained limit per claim. The trial court interpreted the term “applicable underlying limit” as being a variable amount “dependent on the actual coverage remaining under [the] other [limits of] insurance,” here, the limits of the SIT. Because Exeter had paid out the limits of the SIT, the court found that the “applicable underlying limit” was zero, thereby rendering the $100,000 retained limit greater than the “applicable underlying limit.” Thus, the court determined that, pursuant to “Coverage A,” Steadfast was required “to pay damages in excess of $100,000 for each medical incident.” Exeter sought reconsideration of the court’s order, which the court denied. Although the New Hampshire Supreme Court did not agree with every underlying argument pressed by Exeter, it concluded that its overall argument regarding the interpretation of Coverage A was reasonable, and the trial court therefore erred in granting partial summary judgment as to the terms of Coverage A. View "Exeter Hospital, Inc. v. Steadfast Insurance Company" on Justia Law

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Defendant, David J. Widi, Jr. appealed a superior court order denying his petition for a writ of coram nobis. In February 2004, the defendant filed a notice of intent to plead guilty to a charge of misdemeanor reckless conduct in exchange for a negotiated sentence. Almost four years later, defendant was charged with the federal offense of being a felon in possession of a firearm, with his felony reckless conduct conviction serving as the predicate felony. In 2010, the defendant filed in the trial court a “Motion to Correct the Record.” In that motion, the defendant asserted that it “ha[d] recently come to [his] attention that the [m]ittimus” for his conviction reflected that he was convicted of felony reckless conduct. He further asserted that a felony indictment for reckless conduct — instead of a misdemeanor information for reckless conduct - “was erroneously submitted at sentencing . . . causing the misclassification of [his] conviction in the [m]ittimus.” Consequently, he requested that the mittimus for his reckless conduct conviction be “correct[ed]” to reflect that he had pleaded guilty to misdemeanor reckless conduct, not felony reckless conduct. The trial court denied the defendant’s motion. In 2014, defendant filed this petition for a writ of coram nobis. He argued that the trial court erred by denying his petition without holding an evidentiary hearing. The New Hampshire Supreme Court held that the common law writ of coram nobis existed in New Hampshire. This case presented the distinct issue of whether a trial court may deny a defendant’s petition for a writ of coram nobis without holding an evidentiary hearing. The Court held that a trial court may deny a petition for a writ of coram nobis without holding an evidentiary hearing if the record clearly demonstrates that the defendant is not entitled to coram nobis relief. Here, because the record clearly demonstrates that no sound reason exists for the defendant’s failure to seek earlier relief, the trial court did not err when it denied the defendant’s petition without a hearing. View "New Hampshire v. Widi" on Justia Law

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Defendant Abraham DePaula appealed after he was convicted by jury on one count of burglary, five counts of theft by unauthorized taking, and two counts of conspiracy to commit theft by unauthorized taking. He argued the trial court erred when it: (1) ruled that his testimony opened the door to evidence of his alleged involvement in an unrelated homicide; (2) denied his motion in limine to preclude the State from introducing testimony regarding physical and sexual assaults that occurred during the burglary; (3) allowed the State to introduce lay testimony from custodians of cellular telephone records regarding the range of cell towers; and (4) sentenced the defendant on both conspiracy to commit theft convictions. The State conceded that, under the facts and circumstances of this case, it was plain error for the trial court to sentence the defendant on both conspiracy convictions. Accordingly, the New Hampshire Supreme Court vacated defendant’s conviction on one of the conspiracy indictments, but affirmed in all other respects. View "New Hampshire v. DePaula" on Justia Law

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Petitioner Beverly Desmarais appealed the decision of the New Hampshire Compensation Appeals Board (CAB) denying her request for attorney’s fees and costs that she incurred in litigating a fee dispute with the respondents, Utica National Insurance Group (Utica) and AMI Graphics. The CAB determined that, although the Workers’ Compensation Law entitled the petitioner to attorney’s fees and costs associated with litigating the merits of her workers’ compensation claim, it did not further entitle her to fees and costs incurred in successfully litigating the fee dispute. The New Hampshire Supreme Court reversed and remanded, finding that the evident purpose of paragraph VI of RSA 281-A:44 was to encourage claimants to obtain, and attorneys to provide, representation in a certain class of disputes regarding workers’ compensation benefits. The Court remanded to the CAB for a determination as to the reasonableness of the additional fees and costs that the petitioner incurred in litigating the fees and costs issue at the administrative level. Any party aggrieved by the CAB’s order on fees and costs may appeal to the Supreme Court pursuant to RSA chapter 541. View "Appeal of Beverly Desmarais" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff segTEL, Inc. was a telecommunications company that owned and/or operated a fiber optic cable network throughout New Hampshire, including within the City of Nashua. It did not own any poles or conduits within the City, and did not have its own license from the City authorizing its occupation of the City’s rights of way. Instead, pursuant to pole attachment agreements with the utility providers, the plaintiff remitted a fee to the utility providers in exchange for the right to place its fiber optic cables on their poles and conduits. These pole attachment agreements did not require the plaintiff to pay property taxes assessed by the City. Having become aware of plaintiff’s use of the utility providers’ poles and conduits, the City in 2014 assessed plaintiff property taxes of $1,507.94 for its use of the City’s rights of way. Plaintiff applied for an abatement, which the City denied. Thereafter, plaintiff brought this action in superior court, seeking: (1) a declaratory judgment that the City was not entitled to impose the tax; and (2) to strike the City’s 2014 tax assessment. The trial court granted summary judgment to plaintiff, ruling that “[b]ecause [the plaintiff] has not entered into an agreement in which it consented to be taxed,” the City could not lawfully tax the plaintiff for its use and occupation of the City’s rights of way. The City appealed, and finding no reversible error in the trial court’s judgment, the New Hampshire Supreme Court affirmed. View "Segtel, Inc. v. City of Nashua" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Condominiums at Lilac Lane Unit Owners’ Association (Lilac) appealed a superior court order granting summary judgment to defendants Monument Garden, LLC (Monument Garden) and Eastern Bank. The trial court determined that a residential development in Dover known as the Condominiums at Lilac Lane was not subject to the provisions of the Condominium Act RSA chapter 356-B (2009 & Supp. 2016), regulating “convertible land.” The New Hampshire Supreme Court agreed with defendants that the plain language of the Act contravenes Lilac’s assertion that “convertible land” and “expandable condominium” were the only means by which units may be built in the future after the condominium was created. As such, the Court affirmed the superior court’s order. View "Condominiums at Lilac Lane Unit Owners Assn. v. Monument Garden, LLC" on Justia Law