Justia Vermont Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

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Plaintiff sued for quiet title to prevent defendants from using a road that passed through her property to access defendants' adjacent property. The superior court granted summary judgment in favor of defendants, because the route at issue was a public highway established by the town in 1800 that was never discontinued. Finding no reversible error in the superior court's order, the Vermont Supreme Court affirmed. View "Bartlett v. Roberts" on Justia Law

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The parties in this case disputed access to a segment of road that extended across defendant's property and onto plaintiff's property. The superior court determined plaintiffs had the right to use the road because it was a town highway that was never discontinued. Defendants argued the highway was discontinued by operation of Vermont's ancient-road law, went eh town did not include it on the town highway map by the time litigation had commenced. The Vermont Supreme Court found no reversible error in the superior court's order, and affirmed it. View "Doncaster v. Hane" on Justia Law

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Defendant appealed after she was convicted for conspiracy to commit heroin trafficking. On appeal, she argued the trial court erred in: (1) denying her motion for judgment of acquittal because the State failed to prove the weight of the seized drugs; (2) admitting an out-of-court statement by a deceased co-conspirator; and (3) responding to a question raised by the jury regarding the elements of the conspiracy charge. Finding no reversible error, the Vermont Supreme Court affirmed. View "Vermont v. Davis" on Justia Law

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Defendant appealed his conviction for first-degree aggravated domestic assault. On appeal, he argued the trial court denied him the right to a fair trial by refusing to grant immunity to his witness or to compel the State to do so. In addition, he contended the trial court’s supplemental instruction improperly pressured the jury to reach a verdict. Finding no reversible error, the Vermont Supreme Court affirmed. View "Vermont v. Gates" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff T.C. sought an order of protection against stalking or sexual assault (SSA order) against defendant L.D. Plaintiff was seventeen at the time she sought the order; defendant was thirteen. The court dismissed plaintiff’s complaint without reaching the merits, holding that the statute pertaining to SSA orders did not permit claims against a minor defendant. The Vermont Supreme Court reversed, finding nothing in the SSA statute that expressly limited who may be the subject of an SSA complaint. View "T.C. v. L.D." on Justia Law

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Defendant Clay Knight appealed the civil division’s affirming a small-claims award to the Town of Bennington for reimbursement of defendant’s salary and benefits pursuant to a contract between defendant and the Town. Defendant signed an “employment agreement” with the Bennington Police Department under which, in exchange for receiving full-time training, he agreed to repay the Town a portion of his salary if he was unable or unwilling to remain employed by the Town for three years. The issue this case presented for the Vermont Supreme Court’s review was whether this agreement conflicted with the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) that set defendant’s rate of pay during training. After review, the Supreme Court concluded that the employment agreement indeed conflicted with the CBA, and therefore reversed. View "Town of Bennington v. Knight" on Justia Law

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Defendant Brandon Rolls was charged with aggravated sexual assault of a minor, was acquitted by a jury of that charge, but convicted of the lesser-included offense of sexual assault. Defense counsel objected to the State’s requested jury instruction of the lesser-included offense. The trial court overruled the objection, explaining that it had to provide a lesser-included-offense instruction upon either party’s request if the evidence supported the instruction, as it did in this case. Defense counsel did not object to the language the court proposed for the lesser-included-offense instruction. On appeal, defendant argued the trial court erred in its jury instructions, mandating reversal of his conviction and sentence. Finding no error in the trial court’s instruction, the Vermont Supreme Court affirmed. View "Vermont v. Rolls" on Justia Law

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Petitioner Gregory FitzGerald appealed two superior court decisions entering judgment for the State on his petition for post-conviction relief (PCR). On appeal, petitioner argued he was prejudiced by the cumulative effect of errors trial counsel made during his 1994 criminal trial. He also alleged the State knowingly presented false evidence at his trial. Finding no such errors, the Vermont Supreme Court affirmed the denial of post-conviction relief. View "In re Gregory FitzGerald" on Justia Law

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At issue in this case before the Vermont Supreme Court was the meaning of “date of loss” for the purpose of an insurance policy’s condition that any action be commenced within one year after the “date of loss.” The trial court concluded that the insurance provision requiring that an action be brought “within one year after the date of loss” was ambiguous and had to be interpreted against insurer to mean that the one-year period began to run when insurer breached its obligations (i.e., at the time homeowner received final, allegedly insufficient, payment from insurer). The court accordingly denied insurer summary judgment and granted partial summary judgment to homeowner. After its review, the Supreme Court concluded the provision was unambiguous in requiring suit to be brought within one year of the date of the occurrence giving rise to coverage and reversed the partial summary judgment for homeowner. View "Brillman v. New England Guaranty Insurance Company, Inc." on Justia Law

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Applicant, the Snyder Group, Inc., which initially obtained approval from the City of South Burlington Development Review Board (DRB) to construct a planned unit development (PUD), appealed an Environmental Division’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the City, that the City’s governing zoning bylaw concerning the transfer of development rights (TDRs) with respect to PUD applications did not comply with two subsections of the enabling statute and was unconstitutionally vague. Neighbors, as interested parties opposing the PUD, cross-appealed with respect to the Environmental Division’s rulings that the TDR bylaw complied with three subsections of the enabling statute. After review, the Vermont Supreme Court upheld the rulings challenged by neighbors, reversed the rulings challenged by applicant, and remanded the matter for Environmental Division to enter summary judgment in favor of applicant. View "In re Snyder Group, Inc. PUD Final Plat" on Justia Law