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Plaintiff Daniel Barry appealed a jury verdict in favor of defendants the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (department) and William Fenniman, Jr., the director of the Division of Juvenile Justice Services during the relevant time period. Plaintiff worked as a youth counselor at the Sununu Youth Services Center (SYSC) until defendants terminated him, claiming that he had used excessive force against a youth resident and had failed to file a report regarding the incident. After the Personnel Appeals Board (PAB) reinstated him, plaintiff filed suit at issue here, alleging a claim for wrongful termination against the department, and a claim for interference with plaintiff’s right to freedom of expression under RSA chapter 98-E against the department and Fenniman in his official and individual capacities. On appeal, plaintiff argued the superior court erred when it: (1) declined to give collateral estoppel effect to the PAB’s findings that plaintiff had not used unreasonable or excessive force against the resident or violated SYSC policies; and (2) allowed defendants’ expert to testify regarding the reasonableness of plaintiff’s use of force. Defendants cross-appealed, arguing the superior court erred when it: (1) concluded that an employee protected by state personnel laws and a collective bargaining agreement could bring a claim for wrongful termination; and (2) declined to make factual findings to resolve the defendants’ motion to dismiss upon the ground of sovereign immunity. The New Hampshire Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s rulings with respect to the issues raised by plaintiff in his appeal. As a result, the Court did not address the issues raised in defendants’ cross-appeal. View "Barry v. New Hampshire Department of Health &Human Services" on Justia Law

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Defendant Arch Specialty Insurance Company (Arch) appealed multiple superior court orders granting summary judgment to defendants Triage Staffing, Inc. (Triage), Exeter Hospital, Inc. (Exeter), and American Healthcare Services Association (AHSA) on their petitions for declaratory judgment, and denying Arch’s cross-motion for summary judgment. The court ruled that Arch was required to defend and indemnify Triage, Exeter, and AHSA, pursuant to two insurance policies that Arch issued to Triage, for claims asserted against the defendants by patients of Exeter who contracted Hepatitis C (Exeter Patients). On appeal, Arch argued the trial court erred in finding inapplicable certain exclusions found in the insurance policies and in determining that the claims involved multiple occurrences under the policies. After review, the New Hampshire Supreme Court reversed the superior court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Triage and Exeter regarding Arch’s duty to defend and indemnify them pursuant to the general liability coverage forms; the Court reversed the trial court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Exeter regarding Arch’s duty to defend and indemnify it pursuant to the umbrella coverage forms; reversed in part and vacated in part the trial court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Triage regarding Arch’s duty to defend and indemnify it pursuant to the umbrella coverage forms, and remanded all matters to the trial court for further proceedings. View "Massachusetts Bay Insurance Company v. American Healthcare Services Association" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs Wayne and Ruth Ross, trustees of the Wayne Ross Revocable Trust and the Ruth Ross Revocable Trust, respectively, appealed a superior court order in favor of defendants Donald Ross and Rossview Farm, LLC (the LLC). Plaintiffs contested findings that the parties entered into a lease for the plaintiffs’ lifetimes and that they had no right to evict the defendants pursuant to RSA 540:2, II(d) or (e) (2007). The trial court found that plaintiffs conceded that a June 23, 2006 document satisfied the statute of frauds because, in their post-trial memorandum, plaintiffs explained their position that the June 23, 2006 document “is a writing signed by all the parties that states the terms of the parties’ agreement. This document satisfies the statute of frauds and governs their relationship.” The “clear” language of the June 23, 2006 document, plaintiffs posited, created a yearly lease. However, plaintiffs also argued in the post-trial memorandum that defendants’ introduction of parol evidence of the parties’ intent to create a perpetual lease violated the statute of frauds because “the intent of the parties to create a perpetual lease must be clear from the face of the document and there must be a document to satisfy the statute of frauds.” Thus, plaintiffs did not concede that the June 23, 2006 document satisfied the statute of frauds for all purposes; instead, they contended that it “satisfies the statute of frauds” if the document was read to create a yearly lease. The New Hampshire Supreme Court vacated and remanded, finding the trial court’s finding that plaintiffs conceded the issue lacked evidentiary support, and concluded plaintiffs did not waive their statute of frauds argument by concession. View "Ross v. Ross" on Justia Law

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The State appealed a superior court order granting news reporter Nicholas Reid’s (Reid) motion to quash the State’s subpoena compelling him to testify against defendant Carl Gibson. Republican candidate Yvonne Dean-Bailey (Dean-Bailey) was running in a May 19, 2015 special election for State Representative from Rockingham County District 32. On May 14, 2015, the defendant, a volunteer for the opposing Democratic Party candidate, allegedly issued a false press release stating that Dean-Bailey was dropping out of the race. Reid, who was covering the special election as a reporter for the Concord Monitor, received the e-mail with the attached press release and became suspicious because of the form and content of the e-mail and attached file. He contacted a representative of the New Hampshire Republican Party who was unaware of Dean-Bailey withdrawing from the race. Reid then wrote a short article for the May 15, 2015 issue of the newspaper titled “Email claiming Dean-Bailey is conceding called a hoax.” Reid reviewed the metadata of the press release which lead to him finding a way to contact Gibson. Based upon that conversation and his conversations with other sources, Reid wrote a second article published in the Concord Monitor on May 16 under the headline, “Man who sent hoax email from GOP candidate had ‘too many beers’ before ‘prank.’” Defendant was ultimately charged with “False Documents, Names or Endorsements,” attempted voter suppression, and voter suppression. Reid was served with a subpoena requiring him “to testify what [he] know[s] relating to a criminal matter to be heard and tried between the State . . . and Carl Gibson.” Reid moved to quash the subpoena on the ground that it violated his “newsgathering privilege” under Part I, Article 22 of the New Hampshire Constitution and the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. On appeal, the State argued that the trial court erred “by expanding the scope of the news-gathering privilege to include non-confidential sources.” Although Reid based his motion to quash upon the ground that it violated his newsgathering privilege under the State and Federal Constitutions, the trial court based its decision solely upon the State Constitution. The New Hampshire Supreme Court held the trial court’s determination was erroneous, and remanded for the trial court to consider, in the first instance, Reid’s federal constitutional claim. View "New Hampshire v. Gibson" on Justia Law

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During a regularly-scheduled meeting, the SAU’s Board voted to go into a nonpublic session to discuss two topics: the superintendent’s evaluation, and “emergency functions.” While in nonpublic session, the Board voted to seal the minutes of the meeting. In June 2016, plaintiff David Taylor asked the executive assistant to the superintendent to send him the minutes of the May 12 nonpublic session by e-mail. She informed plaintiff that she could not provide him with those minutes because they were sealed. A month later, plaintiff e-mailed the executive assistant again, asking her to forward to him, by e-mail, a June 22 e-mail regarding the nonpublic session that had been sent to the Board. The executive assistant again denied plaintiff’s request, referring him to the SAU’s Right-to-Know procedure, requiring the public seeking electronic records to come to the SAU’s offices with a thumb drive in sealed, original packaging or to purchase a thumb drive from the SAU at its actual cost. In August, plaintiff filed a complaint in which he alleged the SAU had violated RSA chapter 91-A by voting in closed session to seal the minutes of the nonpublic session of the May 12 meeting and by refusing to e-mail the records he requested. He also challenged the SAU’s practice of charging 50 cents per page for hard copies of public records. Plaintiff sought: invalidation of the vote to seal the minutes of the nonpublic session; release of the sealed minutes; a declaration that the SAU’s thumb drive policy violated RSA chapter 91-A; an order requiring transmission of the requested records to him by e-mail; other injunctive relief; and litigation costs. After review, the trial court found the SAU’s policy for transmitting public records complied with RSA chapter 91-A. Because of the SAU’s decision to keep sealed only the portion of the nonpublic session with respect to emergency functions, the trial court also found that the plaintiff’s challenge of the SAU’s action was “moot in all but one respect,” specifically, the single redacted sentence of the superintendent’s evaluation. On this issue, the court ordered that the SAU provide it with an un-redacted copy of the public minutes for in camera review. The trial court also determined that petitioner’s lawsuit had been necessary to ensure the Board’s compliance with RSA 91-A:3, and, therefore, awarded him litigation costs. However, the trial court ruled that plaintiff had no standing to challenge the cost of paper copies, because there was no evidence that he had asked for, or paid for, such copies. The trial court also found that the Board did not violate RSA 91-A:3, III by producing two sets of minutes for the May 12 meeting, one containing the public portion and the other the sealed portion. Finally, the court declined to enter the injunctive relief sought by the plaintiff. Finding no reversible error in the trial court’s judgment, the New Hampshire Supreme Court affirmed. View "Taylor v. School Administrative Unit #55" on Justia Law

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Defendant Latvian Lutheran Exile Church of Boston and Vicinity Patrons, Inc. (Patrons), appealed a superior court order declaring that it did not have an easement to use a private road to access Lake Massasecum. Plaintiff Carolyn Carlson, Trustee of the Carolyn J. Carlson Living Trust (Carlson), cross-appealed the trial court’s denial of Carlson’s petition to quiet title. Because the New Hampshire Supreme Court found Carlson lacked standing to pursue both her actions, it affirmed the trial court’s ruling that she lacked standing on her petition to quiet title, vacated the trial court’s grant of declaratory relief, and remanded. View "Carlson v. Latvian Lutheran Exile Church of Boston" on Justia Law

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This case arose from an accident at a pond owned by the defendant, the Town of Chester, where Christopher Kurowski suffered injuries after being struck by a person using a rope swing attached to a tree on the shore. Plaintiff, Jay Kurowski, as father and next friend of his minor son, Christopher, appealed a superior court order dismissing his negligence and intentional tort claims against the Town, as barred by the recreational use immunity statutes. The New Hampshire Supreme Court concluded the Town was entitled to immunity under RSA 212:34, and affirmed. View "Kurowski v. Town of Chester" on Justia Law

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Defendant Andrew Robbins appealed his conviction for being a convicted felon in possession of a deadly weapon. Upon approaching the vehicle, police immediately recognized three of the four occupants from prior traffic stops. Several of the occupants were known members of a national criminal street gang. Checking for outstanding warrants, the officer found one against defendant. Concerned for his safety, the officer asked defendant to step out of the car and informed defendant of the outstanding warrant. Defendant was placed under arrest; a subsequent search netted a knife in defendant’s right front pocket. On appeal of the subsequent charges and conviction, defendant argued the superior court erred in denying his motion to suppress the knife: the officer unlawfully expanded the scope of the traffic stop by questioning him and conducting a warrant check. Defendant maintains this unjustified expansion of the scope of the traffic stop violated his rights. The New Hampshire found no error in the superior court’s judgment and affirmed. View "New Hampshire v. Robbins" on Justia Law

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Jeremy Fiske was convicted on eight counts of aggravated felonious sexual assault, and one count of possessing child pornography. He appealed, arguing the superior court erred by: (1) denying his motion for in camera review of the counseling records of the victim; (2) allowing the State to present evidence that he admitted to having “perversion addictions”; (3) denying his motion to dismiss the child pornography indictment; and (4) informing the jury that certain indictments alleged alternative means of committing the same offense but then imposing separate sentences on each of the alternative charges. Finding no error, the New Hampshire Supreme Court affirmed. View "New Hampshire v. Fiske" on Justia Law

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Defendants Aaron and Maryann Little (Littles) appealed a Superior Court quieting title in plaintiffs Barbara O’Malley and her daughter Helen O’Malley a strip of land based upon adverse possession, as well as a previous order denying the Littles’ motion for summary judgment. Barbara and her husband, Joseph, acquired the “McKay Lot” in 1963 for use as a summer home. Over the next 50 years, the couple lived there with their children. The backyard of the McKay Lot abutted the backyard of the Littles’ property (“Francis Lot”). In October 1993, Barbara contracted for the installation of a chain link fence between the McKay Lot and the Francis Lot after tenants from the latter began walking across the yard of the Francis Lot with beach chairs and scratching Helen’s car. The fence was placed about three to five feet over the property line between the two lots. Between the fence and the property line (disputed area), there was a clothesline and outdoor shower and grill, all of which were used frequently by the O’Malley family. The plaintiffs and their relatives and friends would occasionally park against the fence. In 1996, following the death of her husband, Barbara deeded the McKay Lot to herself and her daughter Helen. The Littles purchased the Francis Lot in December 2008. Upon acquiring the property, the Littles assumed that the actual property line was represented by the fence between the two properties. However, in the spring of 2010, Scott McCarthy, a prior owner of the Francis Lot, informed the Littles that the plaintiffs’ fence encroached approximately three to five feet onto the Francis Lot from the actual property line. The Littles confirmed this statement by reviewing a survey plan and measuring the property line with a tape measure. They then called plaintiffs in April 2010 to inform them of this discovery, before stating that they needed to move the fence. Plaintiffs refused. Upon reviewing the record, the New Hampshire Supreme Court found ample evidence that there was “no evidence that [record owner] took steps to eject [adverse possessors] or to disrupt their open possession of the disputed parcel” and affirmed quieting title in plaintiffs. View "O'Malley v. Little" on Justia Law