Justia New Hampshire Supreme Court Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Public Benefits
Bond v. Martineau
Plaintiffs Kenneth Bond and Deborah Thibault, on behalf of themselves and a class of others similarly situated, appealed a superior court order granting summary judgment to the defendants, the City of Manchester and Paul Martineau in his official capacity as Commissioner of the Manchester Welfare Department (collectively, the City). In January 2010, the plaintiffs applied for general assistance from the City pursuant to RSA chapter 165. See RSA 165:1, I (2002). On February 24, 2010, the City approved $140.00 per week in rental assistance. On March 18, 2010, the City suspended this assistance for seven days because of the plaintiffs' failure to provide certain documentation, including that which related to $30 the plaintiffs used to buy gas for a vehicle. The City lifted this suspension on March 25, 2010, noting that the plaintiffs were "unable to show compliance with the $30 purchase of vehicle gas that [they] stated [they] had previously purchased through an alternate financial resource." On April 9, 2010, the City revoked an April 8 voucher and denied the plaintiffs all assistance for six months because they had misrepresented information related to their vehicle. The plaintiffs petitioned the superior court to enjoin the City from suspending their assistance. Because the Supreme Court held that RSA 165:1-b and the Guidelines pertaining to rental assistance actually conflict, the Court reversed the trial court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the City and remanded the case for further proceedings. View "Bond v. Martineau" on Justia Law
Appeal of Ellen St. Louis
Petitioner Ellen St. Louis appealed the decision of the New Hampshire Department of Employment Security (DES) Appellate Board (board) that denied her claim for unemployment benefits. Early 2009, Petitioner received a disciplinary notice stating that her conduct was not in line with company policy because she appeared to be asleep at work and was argumentative when her trainer instructed her regarding her faulty soldering work. Subsequently, Petitioner informed a human resources representative that she was having difficulties breathing and that she was depressed. The human resources representative recommended she take medical leave. Petitioner claims that when she returned to work she could no longer perform soldering work because the fumes caused headaches, and caused her to shake, cough, and have difficulty breathing. The record indicated that she never provided Insight Technology with any medical records or doctor's instructions regarding her breathing problems or opinions regarding her inability to do soldering work. Petitioner was ultimately terminated for poor work performance. She applied for unemployment benefits but was denied. After an unsuccessful appeal to the Board, Petitioner appealed to the Supreme Court. Upon review, the Court found that the record supported the determination that Petitioner was terminated for misconduct, and that there was no error in the Board's decision. View "Appeal of Ellen St. Louis " on Justia Law
In re Kalar
Petitioner Patricia Kalar petitioned the Supreme Court to challenge the reduction of her benefits by Respondent New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services. The Department conducted an inquiry into Petitioner's income and expenses as part of a mandatory, periodic "recertification" process for determining Petitioner's food stamp benefits. At the last inquiry, the Department determined that Petitioner's food stamp benefit should be reduced. Petitioner argued on appeal that the Department erred in its calculation that served as the basis of its reduction determination. Upon review, the Supreme Court could not conclude that the reduction in Petitioner's benefits was due to miscalculations by the Department. The Court affirmed the Department's decision. View "In re Kalar" on Justia Law
Appeal of the Hartford Insurance Company
Petitioner Hartford Insurance Company (Hartford) appealed orders of the Compensation Appeals Board (CAB) that denied it recovery from the State Special Fund for Second Injuries for injuries to Claire Hamel and John Rygiel. Ms. Hamel worked as an assembly person for a motor manufacturing company. She was temporarily disabled for psychiatric reasons. She continued to work until her second injury for degenerative disc disease. Mr. Rygiel worked as a truck driver for a mobile MRI unit. Mr. Rygiel had Type II diabetes that required medication. Mr. Rygiel sustained an employment-related injury to his wrist. In both Ms. Hamel and Mr. Rygiel's cases, Hartford applied for and was denied reimbursement from the second injury fund. Hartford appealed both the Hamel and Rygiel decisions by CAB. The issue from both cases centered on whether state law allowed the CAB to consider an employee's past job performance as evidence that his or her preexisting impairment would not be a hindrance to obtaining employment if that employee became unemployed. The Supreme Court concluded that the employee's ability to perform his or her existing job is not determinative of whether the preexisting impairment was a hindrance to obtaining employment. The Court found that the CAB erroneously relied on the employee's ability when it denied Hartford's claims for reimbursement. Accordingly, the Court vacated the CAB's decisions in both the Hamel and Rygiel cases and remanded the cases for further proceedings.
In re Richard Lister and Marianne Lister
Petitioner Richard Lister appealed the recommendation of the Family Division Master that modified his child support obligations, and that refused to grant him credit for Social Security benefits received by his adult son. The son lives with his mother, Marianne Lister, and receives Supplemental Social Security (SSI) income of approximately $450 per month. As a disabled adult, the son is eligible for child support so long as he remains dependent. The sonâs SSI is reduced by the amount of child support he receives. In 2010, Mrs. Lister requested an increase in child support from Mr. Lister. At that time, Mr. Lister argued that he should receive a dollar for dollar credit for the sonâs SSI benefits when considering how much more he should be obliged to pay. The case Mr. Lister relied on to make his âcreditâ argument depended on the parentâs status as either retired or disabled. In this case, the son receives SSI benefits because of his own disability. The family division modified the child support obligation and refused to give Mr. Lister âcreditâ in the amount of his sonâs SSI benefits. On appeal, Mr. Lister argues that the family division made a mistake in reaching its decision to modify his support obligation. The Supreme Court agreed with the family divisionâs analysis of Mr. Listerâs case, and affirmed the divisionâs decision.