Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

City of Lewiston v. Androscoggin County

Superior Court of Maine

March 18, 2016

CITY OF LEWISTON, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
ANDROSCOGGIN COUNTY, et al., Defendants.

ORDER ON DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS FOR FAILURE TO STATE A CLAIM & FOR FAILURE TO JOIN A NECESSARY PARTY

Lance Walker, Justice.

Thirteen municipalities in Androscoggin County[1] have brought this action against Androscoggin County[2](the "County") and the seven County Commissioners of Androscoggin County for declaratory judgment, breach of fiduciary duty, and unjust enrichment. Presently before the court is Defendants motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted and failure to join a necessary party.

Based on the following, Defendants' motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim is granted as to Plaintiffs' second claim for breach of fiduciary duty and denied as to Plaintiffs' first and third claims for declaratory judgment and unjust enrichment. Defendants' motion to dismiss for failure to join a necessary party is denied.

I. BACKGROUND

In 2012, the voters of Androscoggin County approved the adoption of a County Charter. (2d Amend. Compl. ¶ 27; Defs. Mot. Dismiss Ex. IB.) Plaintiffs assert that, in order to avoid conflicts of interest, the County Charter provided that a Budget Committee, whose members are appointed by municipalities, was responsible for approving the County budget and setting the salaries and benefits of the County's elected officials. (2d Amend. Compl. ¶ 25.) Section 5.5.3 of the County Charter at that time provided:

When the Budget Committee has completed its deliberations, it shall hold a public hearing to present its proposed budget.... After the public hearing, the Budget Committee shall adopt a final budget and transmit the same to the Board [of County Commissioners].

Androscoggin Cty., Me., Androscoggin Cty. Charter, Art. V § 5.5.3 (Dec. 26, 2012). Section 5.5.4 of the County Charter at that time provided:

The Board [of County Commissioners] shall act on the proposed budget in a timely fashion.... The budget as adopted shall be the final authorization for assessment of county taxes... A copy of a final approved budget shall be filed with the State Auditor as provided by law.

Androscoggin Cty., Me., Androscoggin Cty. Charter, Art. V § 5.5.4 (Dec. 26, 2012). Additionally, § 3.7 of the County Charter at that time provided:

Salaries and benefits of all County elected officials shall be recommended by the Board [of County Commissioners] and approved by a majority plus one vote of the full Budget Committee.

Androscoggin Cty., Me., Androscoggin Cty. Charter, Art. Ill. § 3.7 (Dec. 26, 2012).

In 2013, the Maine Legislature enacted Resolves 2013, Chapter 62. (2d. Amend. Compl K 31.) Resolves 2013, Chapter 62 directed the County Commissioners to make several changes to the Androscoggin County Charter, including amendments to § 5.5.3 and § 5.5.4. Resolves 2013, ch. 62. Resolves 2013, Chapter 62 was approved by the Governor on June 21, 2013. Id. Section 5.5.3 of the County Charter now provides:

When the Budget Committee has completed its deliberations, it shall hold a public hearing to present its proposed budget.... After the public hearing, the Budget Committee shall approve a final proposed budget and transmit the same to the Board [of County Commissioners] for its approval.

Androscoggin Cty., Me., Androscoggin Cty. Charter, Art. V § 5.5.3 (Aug. 14, 2013). Section 5.5.4 of the County Charter now provides:

The Board [of County Commissioners] has the authority to modify the proposed budget and the authority to adopt the final budget for the County. The Board shall act on the proposed budget in a timely fashion and, in any event, shall vote to adopt the final budget.... The budget as adopted shall be the final authorization for assessment of county taxes... A copy of a final approved budget shall be filed with the State Auditor as provided by law.

Androscoggin Cty., Me., Androscoggin Cty. Charter, Art. V § 5.5.4 (Aug. 14, 2013). Resolves 2013, Chapter 62 did not require the County Commissioners to amend § 3.7 of the County Charter governing the setting of salaries and benefits of elected officials. (2d Amend. Compl. U 36); Resolves 2013, ch. 62.

Plaintiffs allege that, in 2014, the Budget Committee voted to reduced the salaries of the County Commissioners and eliminate their benefits. (2d Amend. Compl. ¶ 44.) Plaintiffs allege that the County Commissioner amended the budget approved by the Budget Committee and voted to adopt a final budget that set their own salaries higher than had been approved by the Budget Committee and reinstated their benefits. (Id. ¶¶ 41, 44-45.) Plaintiffs further allege that the County Commissioners did not seek or obtain additional approval of the amendments to the budget setting their own salaries and benefits from the Budget Committee or a Finance Committee. (Id. ¶ 46.) Plaintiffs allege that the County operated under the amended budget approved by the County Commissioners and paid salaries and benefits that were not approved by the Budget Committee or a Finance Committee to the County Commissioners during the 2014-2015 fiscal year. (Id. 49.)

Plaintiffs filed their initial complaint on July 21, 2015. The Plaintiffs filed an amended complaint on August 6, 2015. On August 18, 2015, Plaintiffs filed a motion for leave to file a second amended complaint in order to join an additional Plaintiff. The following day, August 19, 2015, Defendants filed their motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim and for failure to join a necessary party. Defendants' motion addresses the first amended complaint. (Defs. Mot. Dismiss. 1.) The Court approved Plaintiffs' motion to file a second amended complaint on September 8, 2015.

Plaintiff second amended complaint asserts that the County Commissioners' approval of the amended budget, which set their own salaries and benefits without additional approval from the Budget Committee or a Finance Committee was improper under both the County Charter and 30-A M.R.S. § 1353. (2d Amend. Compl. ¶¶ 54-68.) Section § 1353 of Title 30-A, regarding county finance committees, provides:

A county adopting a charter under this chapter may provide for a method of appropriating money for county expenditures other than the method in sections 2, 701 and 702. Any alternative method provided must give the county legislative body authority to appropriate money, according to the budget, which must first be approved by majority vote of the finance committee.

30-A M.R.S. § 1353. Plaintiffs' second amended complaint also asserts that the County Commissioners breached their fiduciary duty to the public and were unjustly enriched by their actions. (2d Amend. Compl. ¶¶ 69-84.)

After an enlargement of time, Plaintiffs filed their opposition to Defendants motion to dismiss on September 18, 2015. That same day, Defendants filed a motion to dismiss the second amended complaint, which incorporated by reference the arguments contained in their earlier motion to dismiss. Defendants also filed a reply to Plaintiffs' opposition on September 25, 2015.

On December 15, 2015, Defendants filed a motion to supplement their motion to dismiss, which the court granted on January 20, 2016. According to Defendants' supplement, on November 3, 2015, the voters of Androscoggin County approved an amendment to § 3.7 of the County Charter. (Defs. Mot. to Suppl. Mot. Dismiss 1.) On November 23, 2015, the Governor issued a proclamation announcing the approval of the amendment to the Androscoggin County Charter. (Defs. Reply to Pis. Opp'n to Defs. Mot. to Suppl. Mot. Dismiss Ex. A.) As amended, § 3.7 of the County Charter now provides:

Notwithstanding the final authority of the Board of Commissioners over the adoption of the County budget under Section 5.5.4, no increase in the salaries or expansion of benefits of elected officials is effective without the ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.