Local News

Court dismisses election lawsuit against Rutland City

By Ed Larson

A lawsuit brought against Rutland City by has been dismissed Feb.7.

Resident Mark Nowakowski filed the lawsuit in March of 2019 seeking to invalidate the city’s March 5, 2019 election.

Nowakowski alleged that the city was bound by charter to issue an annual report by Nov.15, and thus failed to do so until March 4 — some three months late, the implication being that the failure caused an impact on voters to have the ability to evaluate Rutland City’s financial circumstances and be properly informed.

As part of the filing, a request was made to invalidate the election of Mayor David Allaire, as well as voter adoption of the city budget, and approved bond articles, and to call for another special election.

In a decision signed by Vermont Supreme Court Associate Justices Harold E. Eaton, Jr., Karen R. Carroll and William D. Cohen, the justices concluded that the plaintiff’s (Nowakowski) complaint fell below the high standard required to invalidate an election.  The alleged failure to produce the annual report on time “is not a severe violation.”  Also, the plaintiff “has not alleged a significant impact on the election or alleged that the City’s failure to timely produce the report affected the result.”

The justices stated in the decision that Nowakowski did not allege that the “city or the mayor acted deliberately” to affect the outcome of the election.   Thus Nowakowski “failed to assert a legal basis for invalidating the election.”

In the decision the justices concluded, “We review decisions on a motion to dismiss de novo under the same standard as the trial court and will uphold a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim only if it is beyond doubt that there exist no facts or circumstances that would entitle the plaintiff to relief.”

As a result, the Supreme Court granted the city’s request for a dismissal of the lawsuit.

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