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An interlocutory appeal arose from an eviction action in which landlord, Shires Housing, Inc., failed to provide tenant Carolyn Brown, with written notice of tenancy termination before filing for eviction under the Mobile Home Parks Act. The trial court denied defendant’s Vermont Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, ruling that 10 V.S.A. 6237(a)(3) contained an exception to the notice requirement. Because the Vermont Supreme Court concluded the relevant provision of the Mobile Home Parks Act was ambiguous and because the available tools of statutory interpretation all indicated the Act required pre-eviction notice, the Court reversed. View "Shires Housing, Inc. v. Brown" on Justia Law

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In December 2012, defendant Bryan Love was charged with two felony counts of lewd and lascivious conduct with a child, and he faced the possibility of significant jail time. By virtue of a plea agreement with the State, defendant instead pled guilty to two misdemeanor counts of prohibited acts, with a “4 year deferred sentence.” If defendant fulfilled “the terms of probation and of the deferred sentence agreement,” the court would “strike the adjudication of guilt and discharge” him. If he violated “the terms of probation or of the deferred sentence agreement,” he would be sentenced. Two years after executing these agreements, defendant sought to reduce the length of his deferred-sentence term, although he labeled his request a motion to “shorten probation.” He argued that the extensive probation conditions greatly restricted his ability to find a job because they prohibited contact with children, out-of-state travel, and computer use. Defendant also argued that in one instance the presence of the convictions excluded him from consideration for a job. The State opposed defendant’s request, arguing that defendant had agreed to defer sentencing for four years, and because that period had not passed, he had not fulfilled the terms of his agreement. The trial court concluded that it had no authority to grant such relief. The Vermont Supreme Court agreed, and therefore affirmed the trial court’s decision. View "Vermont v. Love" on Justia Law

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Petitioner Shayne Fleming-Pancione is an inmate supervised by the Department of Corrections (DOC). He appealed the determination of the superior court that he was not entitled to a reduction in his Vermont sentence for time spent serving an earlier sentence in Massachusetts. Petitioner argued that because his Vermont sentence was imposed concurrent to his Massachusetts sentence, both sentences should have been calculated as if they commenced on the same date. The Vermont Supreme Court determined Petitioner’s argument was that Vermont law requires that concurrent sentences be treated as if they commenced on the same date, and that date is the earlier start date. In the Court’s view, the validity of this argument decided this case, and since it rejected petitioner’s interpretation of Vermont law, the Court agreed with the superior court that DOC correctly implemented petitioner’s sentence. View "Fleming-Pancione v. Menard" on Justia Law

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Mother appealed the trial court’s dismissal of her parentage action under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA), as well as its denial of her motion to reconsider. She and father were the parents of a child born in Vermont in June 2016. The child also lived with parents for a time in Virginia. Father initiated child custody proceedings in Virginia in August 2016 and was granted custody of the child. Mother appealed that decision within the Virginia court system. Mother then filed a parentage action in Vermont. Following a joint hearing before Virginia and Vermont courts, the Virginia court retained jurisdiction over the custody case, and the Vermont court dismissed the parentage action. Mother essentially argued to the Vermont Supreme Court that Vermont, not Virginia, should have asserted jurisdiction over this child custody case. Finding no reversible error in the trial court’s decision, the Vermont Supreme Court affirmed. View "Pierce v. Slate" on Justia Law

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Petitioner Stevens Law Office appealed a trial court decision denying assignment of a future structured settlement payment from a fund administered by Symetra Assigned Benefits Service Company for legal services rendered by petitioner on behalf of beneficiary Shane Larock. Shane Larock retained petitioner to represent him in a child in need of care or supervision (CHINS) proceeding which he expected to follow the birth of his daughter in early 2016. As payment, petitioner asked Larock for a $16,000 nonrefundable retainer which would be paid through assignment of that sum from a $125,000 structured settlement payment due to Larock in 2022. Under this arrangement, the structured settlement payment issuer, Symetra Assigned Benefits Service Company, would pay petitioner $16,000 directly when the 2022 periodic payment became due under the original terms of the settlement. Larock agreed to the fee arrangement and the assignment. The trial court issued a written order concluding that it could not find that the fee arrangement was reasonable because, given petitioner’s ongoing representation of Larock, such a determination would be speculative. After review, the Vermont Supreme Court reversed and remanded so that the trial court can conduct the best-interest analysis required by statute before determining whether to deny or approve assignment of a structured settlement payment. View "In re Stevens Law Office" on Justia Law

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Neighbors were a group of property owners in the neighborhood of PATH at Stone Summit, Inc.’s proposed therapeutic community residence in Danby. They appealed the Green Mountain Care Board’s decision that the proposed project could proceed without a certificate of need under 18 V.S.A. 9434(a)(5). The Vermont Supreme Court concluded the appeal is not properly before it because Neighbors failed to timely file a petition to become interested parties. Accordingly, the Court dismissed Neighbors’ appeal. View "In re PATH at Stone Summit, Inc." on Justia Law

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Wife Nicola Weaver appealed the trial court’s order granting a motion filed by husband David Weaver to modify his spousal maintenance obligation. Wife argues the trial court erred by: (1) reducing her spousal support to zero; (2) inaccurately calculating husband’s actual living expenses because the court declined to consider husband’s current wife’s financial support of husband; and (3) allowing a credit for overpayment of spousal maintenance against a child support arrearage. The Vermont Supreme Court agreed with wife that the trial court erred on these three points of law and therefore reversed and remanded. View "Weaver v. Weaver" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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Several carpenters, including one single-member LLC, an installer of cement siding, and a painter contended they were employees of Bourbeau Custom Homes, Inc. for the purposes of Vermont’s unemployment compensation system. Bourbeau challenged that classification, contending that it was not liable for unemployment taxes on monies paid to a carpenter operating as a single-member LLC because an LLC was not an “individual” under the unemployment tax statute and therefore not subject to the ABC test established by 21 V.S.A. 1301(6)(B). Second, Bourbeau argued the Employment Security Board erred in applying the ABC test with respect to all of the workers whose remuneration is the subject of this appeal. The Vermont Supreme Court agreed with Bourbeau on the first point and held that an LLC was not an “individual” for the purposes of assessing unemployment taxes. However, the Court affirmed the Board’s determination that the remaining four individuals were employees for purposes of Vermont’s unemployment compensation system. View "In re Bourbeau Custom Homes, Inc." on Justia Law

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Defendant-borrowers Skip and Paris Watts appealed the trial court’s summary judgment decision in favor of plaintiff-lender Deutsche Bank National Trust Company in this mortgage foreclosure action. They argued that the trial court erred by finding that a dismissal with prejudice under Vermont Rule of Civil Procedure 41(b) was not an adjudication on the merits given preclusive effect in a foreclosure action. Lender argues in response that earlier decisions of this Court that gave preclusive effect to the dismissal of foreclosure actions should be applied only prospectively and not to this case. Defendants entered into the mortgage at issue here in 2006. They failed to make payments in 2008. The lender accelerated payments and called for the note in late 2008. Foreclosure proceedings were initiated, and publication by service was completed in early 2010. Borrowrs did not file an answer to the complaint. The case sat for approximately one year; the trial court dismissed the case in July 2011. Following the dismissal, the borrowers attempted to find a solution that would allow the borrowers to resume payments. The Lender then filed suit again in 2013, alleging the borrowers defaulted on the 2008 promissory note. Borrowers answered the complaint, arguing that the 2013 action was precluded by res judicata by the 2009 action. The trial court granted lender’s motion, applying equitable principles to find that the 2011 dismissal was not a preclusive adjudication on the merits but that lender was entitled to recover interest only if it was due after the date of lender’s first, 2009, complaint against borrowers. The Vermont Supreme Court reversed, finding that the lender did not advance a new default theory by refiling its 2009 case in 2013. Therefore, its claims were precluded by the dismissal of the 2009 case. View "Deutsche Bank National Trust Co. v. Watts" on Justia Law

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In this case, a Vermont voter and candidate in the state’s 2016 presidential primary, challenged whether U.S. Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio were constitutionally qualified to run for President of the United States. The trial court dismissed the suit on the grounds that appellant lacked standing and the court lacked jurisdiction to assess the qualifications of the Senators to run for president. Appellant appealed both holdings, but the Supreme Court affirmed the dismissal for a different reason: the case was now moot. View "Paige v. Vermont" on Justia Law