Liability Involving Special Events

Finally, winter is over. Soon we will move outdoors, and local organizations and municipalities will be scheduling and holding “special events" such as sports tournaments, parades, road races and fairs. Families and groups will ask permission to use public areas for weddings, graduation parties and reunions. While these events help to make our communities great places to live, they also involve elements of risk that should be managed to keep participants as safe as possible, and avoid incidents that could mean liability for the municipality.

Volunteers and the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act

New Hampshire communities have a rich history of volunteerism. Whether it is experienced tradesmen donating their time to rewire the town hall or install new bathrooms in the library, teenagers helping out at the recreation summer program or the people who staff the table at the transfer station “swap shop," volunteers are an integral part of a community.

Trees in the Right of Way: Ice Storm Highlights Uncertainty

As this article is written, the lights have only recently come back on following the most devastating ice storm event in New Hampshire history. Starting on December 11, 2008, two inches of precipitation fell as freezing rain over a large portion of the state. Nearly everything was coated with ice, sometimes as much as an inch thick. The effect on the electric and telephone utilities was immediate and catastrophic. As noted by Public Service Company of New Hampshire (PSNH):

Local Regulation of Ethical Behavior

What are “ethics?" It seems like a simple question, but ask several people and you are likely to get several different answers. When the question involves the ethical behavior of local government officials and employees, the answers might include things like:

Avoiding conflicts of interest.
Disclosing financial interests and other relationships.
Avoiding criminal behavior.
Keeping confidential information confidential.
Properly using authority and acting cooperatively.
Treating people fairly and equally.

Creating Record Retention Policies: A Practical Guide

Every organization is inundated with records, whether in paper, electronic or audio format. The unfettered retention of e-mail and other electronic documents strains server capacities, off-site storage of paper records strains budgets and staff time, and the demands to retrieve certain records from this morass strain nerves and patience. To complicate the situation, organizations and their employees adopt a wide variety of approaches to this problem, from saving everything to destroying almost everything.

Cultivating a Successful Farmers’ Market

A great farmers’ market is a lot of things. It is ripe tomatoes still warm from the sun and fresh herbs that smell so good you want to eat them on the spot. It is golden honey and just-baked pies. It is lemon verbena soaps and beautiful candles. It is a conversation with the local gardening expert who can tell you how to grow anything (and when to try something different). It is a place for children to try a craft, for families to spend an afternoon, for neighbors to reconnect.

Expanded Immunity for Police Officers: What It Means for Municipalities

The doctrine of official immunity is designed to encourage and safeguard the ability of government officials to exercise their duties and carry out their functions without being hampered by concerns over possible liability from litigation. On September 21, 2007, the New Hampshire Supreme Court issued an opinion (Sarah Everitt v. General Electric Company, Docket No. 2006-481) which will have far-reaching consequences for police officers and the municipalities that employ them.

Emergency Vehicle Liability: What Every Responder Should Know About the Law

By Ron O’Keefe

Across the country, recent news stories bear headlines such as these when reporting on motor vehicle collisions involving emergency responders:

  • • Fireman charged in fatality
  • • Charges against firefighter dismissed
  • • Family of fallen firefighter sues town

According to the National Fire Protection Association, 34 percent of firefighter deaths in 2004 occurred while responding to or returning from alarms.1

Union Authorization Cards: Change in New Hampshire Law

Until September 15, 2007, New Hampshire law provided that a union wanting to represent employees working for the state, a county, a city or a town would first ask employees to sign cards or a form indicating that the employee had an interest in the union. If the union got these cards signed by 30 percent or more of the employees it sought to represent, the union could file the cards with the New Hampshire Public Employee Labor Relations Board and ask for a secret ballot election to determine if a majority of the employees wanted union representation.

Who’s Responsible for Preventing Sexual Harassment?

Recent rulings on sexual harassment cases have clarified the legal and ethical responsibilities of organizations and individuals with respect to sexual harassment in the workplace. This is a summary of how the law and organizational policy affect the responsibilities of management. The information is adapted from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) publication, Guidance on Vicarious Employer Liability for Unlawful Harassment by Supervisors, and is not meant to be a substitution for legal consultation.