Cady v. Town of Deerfield, Doc. No. 218-2001-EQ-498 (Rockingham Super. Ct., April 23, 2012) (Delker, J.)

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NO. 218-2001-EQ-0498


This Court held an evidentiary hearing over the course of two days relating to the plaintiff's motion for contempt of court against the Town of Deerfield. The basis for the plaintiff's motion was alleged violations of an Order issued by this Court (Lewis, J.) and a Settlement Agreement reached between the Town and the plaintiff, both of which occurred in 2001. The plaintiff alleges that the Town did not post the notice of a December 27, 2011 Board of Selectman meeting in two public places as required by the Settlement Agreement and RSA 91-A:2. The defendant also alleges that Board of Selectmen went into non-public session on December 19, 2011 to discuss an application for tax abatement in violation of RSA 91-A:3, II and this Court's order.

After listening to the witnesses in this matter, the Court ruled on the record on April 20, 2012, that Court found that the plaintiff had presented no credible evidence to support her motion. In fact, this Court ruled that the plaintiff's motion was frivolous and was brought in bad faith. The plaintiff's motion was filed in wanton disregard for the facts and the law. Her accusations against Town officials were vexatious and unjust. The Town of Deerfield was forced to expend considerable taxpayer resources to defend this action. Not only did the Town have to pay attorney's fees to prepare and defend [2] the matter, several town officials were required to attend the hearing and testify to refute the plaintiff's baseless accusations. Because of the plaintiff's motion, the taxpayers for the Town of Deerfield were deprived of the services of these public officials while they attended court to defend this motion.

This Court ordered the plaintiff to pay the Town's attorney's fees pursuant to RSA 91-A:8, I-a. That statute only provides for the award of attorney's fees in favor of a public body which was required to defendant a frivolous law suit. RSA 91-A:8, I-a does not expressly grant the Court authority to also award costs. Nonetheless, this Court finds that its authority to issue an appropriate sanction against the plaintiff is not limited to RSA 91-A:8, I-a. This action was brought not simply as a petition to enforce the Right-to-Know law. Rather, the plaintiff filed a motion for contempt against the Town. N.H. Superior Court Rule 59 provides the Court with the authority to "assess reasonable costs, including reasonable attorney's fees, against any party whose frivolous or unreasonable conduct makes necessary the filing of or hearing on any motion." (Emphasis added). Based on this rule, the Court also orders the plaintiff to reimburse the Town of Deerfield for costs, including reasonable reimbursement of salary or other wages required to have town officials attend court to defend this matter.


   4/23/2012       /s/   

DATE N. William Delker

Presiding Justice