liability

Drug and Alcohol Testing of Municipal Employees

How far may employers go to guarantee a drug-free and alcohol-free workplace? The answer, surprisingly, depends upon whether the employer is a private organization or a governmental entity, who is being tested and how the tests are performed.

Problem Patrons in the Public Library: Can Anything Be Done?

Tree Maintenance Revisited

In the February 2009 issue of New Hampshire Town and City, we discussed the law of tree maintenance and the challenges presented to municipal officials attempting to keep roadsides safe and properly maintained. Since that time, the issue has been visited by both the legislature and the New Hampshire Supreme Court. This article updates our earlier advice on the issue.

Municipal and School Contracts: What's in That Insurance Section Anyway?

When a political subdivision of the State seeks to purchase, build, rent, lease or enter into any kind of an agreement with another party, there should always be a written document that clearly states the roles and responsibilities of all the parties. The contract should also be very clear as to who is assuming the liability for certain assets, actions, events or duties. These considerations are generally found in the "Insurance" section of the contract.

Municipal Authority and the Doctrine of Ultra Vires

Municipal officials involved in litigation or threatened litigation will occasionally encounter the charge that the municipality or its officials have engaged in conduct that is “ultra vires.” “Ultra vires” has nothing to do with sunburn or the flu, but it is an important legal concept for officials to understand. In some circumstances, municipal action can be overturned because it is ultra vires. In other cases, the fact that an act is ultra vires can be a defense to municipal liability.

Q. What does “ultra vires” mean?

Nothing New Under the (Legal) Sun: Social Media Traps for the Unwary?

New social media technologies provide dynamic, accessible ways for municipalities to communicate with the public and perhaps with a whole new generation of citizens. However, as with all communication, social media presents a number of legal issues municipalities need to recognize. It may be dressed up as something new, but most social media technologies present similar challenges for local officials as their more traditional counterparts.

Draw a Parallel

The Taser®: When is Deployment Prudent?

By Jack Ryan

Over the past few years, use of the Taser electronic restraining/compliance device has become more common among law enforcement agencies nationwide. Recent literature from the U.S. Department of Justice indicates that electronic control devices (ECD) are being used by 11,500 agencies, with approximately 260,000 of the devices deployed.

Winter Maintenance of Roads and Sidewalks

As winter approaches, it is time once again for towns and cities to review their policies regarding plowing, salting and sanding of municipal roads and sidewalks. While every town and city has a good deal of experience with these duties, the specific responsibilities and limitations placed on New Hampshire municipalities by state and federal law continue to evolve. In this column, we look at some of the frequently-asked questions regarding winter maintenance and explain the current status of the law.

Understanding the Concept of Municipal Estoppel

Q. What is “municipal estoppel"?
A.
A legal doctrine employed by courts to assure that citizens are treated fairly in their dealings with municipalities. If a person proves that a matter was taken up with the municipality:

Ex Parte Communications and Land Use Boards

Q. What is an “ex parte" communication?
A.
This is a Latin term that means “by or for one party." In this instance, it refers to communication between a land use board member and a person interested in an application, without other interested persons, other board members or the public being present.

Q. Are these types of discussions a problem for land use boards?
A.
Yes, if an ex parte contact occurs, several different problems could arise when that contact is eventually disclosed.

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