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. 2020-0216 and No. 2020-0352

October 5, 2021

Affirmed in part and Reversed in part.

 

  • Whether the trial court erred in granting summary judgment to the defendants and in denying the defendant’s motions for judgment on the pleadings and attorney’s fees?

 

The plaintiff sued the town of Ashland Board of Selectmen for injunctive relief and two of its selectwomen individually for their dismissal.   The plaintiff argues that the selectwomen violated their oaths of office by causing information to be divulged at a meeting that the Board had previously voted to withhold and that adversely affected his relationship with members of the community.  The Court agreed with the defendant selectwomen that the plaintiff failed to adequately allege that the disclosed information would adversely affect his reputation as required to state a claim under RSA 42:1-a, II(a) and therefore held that their motion for judgment on the pleadings should have been granted by the trial court.  With regard to the defendants’ motion for attorney’s fees, the Court discussed that the general rule in New Hampshire is that parties pay their own attorney’s fees with two judicially-created exceptions:  the bad faith litigation and substantial benefit theories.  The defendant’s argued that both exceptions applied to their motion for attorney’s fees.  The Court disagreed and affirmed the trial court’s conclusion that the selectwomen were not entitled to attorney’s fees under either the bad faith litigation or substantial benefit theories.   The Court reversed the trial court’s decision denying the Board’s Motion to Dismiss because the plaintiff’s complaint failed to include allegations that the Board failed to comply with RSA 91-A:2, II’s notice requirements.

The Law Office of Martin & Hipple, of Concord (Stephen T. Martin on the brief and orally), for the plaintiff.  Gallagher, Callahan & Gartrell, of Concord (Charles P. Bauer and Anne E. Jenness on the brief and orally) for the defendants Frances Newton and Leigh Sharps.  Mitchell Municipal Group, of Laconia (Laura Spector-Morgan on the brief and orally) for the defendant Town of Ashland Board of Selectmen.