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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

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Hassimiou Bangoura appealed after he was convicted for driving under the influence (DUI), second offense. He argued that his conviction had to be reversed because of what he claimed was error in how the trial court established the existence of a predicate DUI offense. Finding no such error, the Vermont Supreme Court affirmed. View "Vermont v. Bangoura" on Justia Law

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The State appealed a superior court’s conclusion that the enactment of 13 V.S.A. 3606a repealed 13 V.S.A. 2504 by implication. Because the Vermont Supreme Court concluded section 3606a neither demonstrated a plain intent to repeal section 2504 nor covered the subject matter of section 2504, it reversed. View "Vermont v. Joseph" on Justia Law

Posted in: Constitutional Law

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The State of New York petitioned to extradite James Perron from Vermont, alleging that he had a sentence to serve for a grand larceny conviction. Perron was initially detained on a prerequisition warrant, but Vermont’s Governor since issued two separate warrants for petitioner’s arrest: the first authorized petitioner’s arrest as a fugitive charged by New York with grand larceny who fled justice in that state and was in Vermont; the second stated Perron escaped and failed to report for service of the sentence imposed by New York. The trial court denied Perron's prerequisition writ of habeas corpus and subsequently also denied his challenge to the Governor’s warrants. Perron appealed the trial court’s ruling. Finding no reversible error, the Vermont Supreme Court affirmed. View "Perron v. Menard" on Justia Law

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This case focused on whether the Department for Children and Families (DCF) could deny an applicant temporary housing assistance under General Assistance (GA) Rule 2652.3 for having left her housing in response to a notice of termination without cause from her landlord. DCF argued that applicant Dezarae Durkee caused her own loss of housing and therefore was ineligible for assistance. The Human Services Board upheld this determination. Applicant argued that leaving in response to a notice of termination without cause does not constitute causing her own lack of housing and sought a declaration of such damages. The Vermont Supreme Court granted the declaratory judgment but concluded damages were not appropriate relief. View "In re Appeal of Dezarae Durkee" on Justia Law

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Defendant Dale Byam appealed a trial court’s denial of his motion seeking credit against his sentence for time spent under pretrial conditions of release. Defendant argued on appeal to the Vermont Supreme Court there was a corollary to the Court's decisions in Vermont v. McPhee, Vermont v. Platt, and Vermont v. Kenvin, that would give him credit for days when he was subject to a twenty-four-hour curfew with exceptions, but when there was no guarantee that he was in fact compliant with the curfew. The Court declined to adopt defendant’s proposed rule and instead adopt a rule under which nonstatutory home detention with a condition-of-release curfew is never sufficiently akin to penal incarceration to justify credit. Although the Court's rationale was different than that applied by the trial court, the result was the same. View "Vermont v. Byam" on Justia Law

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In this case involving multiple counts of cruelty to animals, defendant Randall Shepard appealed the trial court’s denial of a motion to suppress and its order imposing costs for the care of forfeited animals. With respect to the suppression motion, defendant argued that: (1) the warrant was unconstitutionally broad in allowing the search for and seizure of any animal found at defendant’s home; (2) there was no veterinarian present during execution of the warrant as required by statute; (3) and the court improperly placed the burden of proof on defendant at the suppression hearing. Defendant also argued that the court abused its discretion in ordering him to repay costs incurred in housing the forfeited animals. After review, the Vermont Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s rulings on the first three issues, but reversed and remanded for reconsideration of the court’s order regarding statutory costs of care for the forfeited animals. View "Vermont v. Sheperd" on Justia Law