Eric Wind Attorney at NH Public Utilities Commission in Concord.

Supreme Court At-a-Glance Contributor Eric Wind, Attorney at the NH Public Utilities Commission in Concord, N.H.

No. 2020-0536

September 22, 2021

Affirmed

 

  • Whether the Governor’s Office for Emergency Relief and Recovery properly denied the petitioner’s applications for funds from the New Hampshire General Assistance and Preservation (GAP) Fund as decisions under the Governor’s emergency powers that are not subject to rehearing or appeal under RSA Ch. 541.

 

As a preliminary matter, the Court found that it lacked jurisdiction under RSA Ch. 541 to review the petition, however the Court determined it possessed jurisdiction to decide the case as a petition for writ of certiorari because the Office for Emergency Relief’s decision would otherwise be unreviewable.

Addressing the petitioners’ equal protection argument, namely that the denial was based on corporate structure resulting in different treatment from similarly situated competitors, the Court held that the record was insufficient to overcome the presumption that the GAP Fund was constitutionally administered.

Relating to due process, the Court held that the petitioners did not identify any mandatory language or predicate to establish that they have an interest that entitles them to due process protection in this matter. Relating to substantive due process, the court applied a rational basis test and found the government’s stated interest of targeting limited aid to businesses most in need to be a legitimate governmental interest.

With respect to the petitioner’s argument that the denial was arbitrary, unreasonable and capricious, because it disregarded the corporate identity and personhood of the petitioners focusing instead on the finances of individual owners, the Court held that the Office for Emergency Relief did not act arbitrarily, unreasonably, or capriciously because it did not “pierce the corporate veil” so as to hold individual owners liable for corporate action or debt.

 

Bernstein, Shur, Sawyer & Nelson, Manchester (Ovide M. Lamontagne and Matthew J. Saldana on the brief and Ovide M. Lamontagne orally) for the petitioners. Office of the Attorney General (Laura E. B. Lombardi on the brief and orally) for the Governor’s Office for Emergency Relief and Recovery.