Attorneys for the City of Sanford have filed documents with the Superior Court in response to a lawsuit brought by City Councilor Lucas Lanigan regarding his temporary removal from subcommittee assignments by Mayor Anne-Marie Mastraccio.
Mayor Mastraccio took the action at the February 2 City Council meeting, followimg complaints about a post on Councilor Lanigan’s personal Facebook page, in which he appeared to be calling for the elimination of the school budget as well as the teachers’ union. He said later that the post was in response to events in Chicago, and had nothing to do with Sanford.
In their filings, the City’s Attorneys call out what they describe as procedural and evidentiary flaws in the lawsuit.
Councilor Lanigan’s suit includes a Rule 80B Appeal and a Complaint for Declaratory Judgment. (In Maine civil law, Rule 80B regulates appeals to governmental decisions and has a specific process to follow.) Citing a ruling in a 2016 suit against the Town of Madawaska, the Motion to Dismiss argues that you can’t ask for both a Rule 80B Appeal and Declaratory Judgment, but must use Rule 80B exclusively, unless you can prove that it is inadequate. On those grounds, they ask that the Complaint for Declaratory Judgment be dismissed.
City attorneys also assert that Councilor Lanigan failed to file a Motion to Specify Future Course of Proceeding for his Rule 80B Appeal within the required ten days. This motion asks the court to set deadlines for things like briefs, discovery and pretrial conferences. They ask that the Rule 80B Appeal be dismissed for this reason.
They further assert that Councilor Lanigan’s Motion for Preliminary Injunction is based on legal argument without the required supporting evidence, and should be denied for that reason.
Councilor Lanigan’s complaint alleges that his First Amendment rights as well as his right of Due Process were violated by the Mayor and City Council by his removal from the subcommittee assignments, harming him personally, professionally and politically; and caused harm to his constituents by depriving them of representation. In their Motion to Dismiss, the City’s attorneys write that Counselor Lanigan has no constitutional right to membership on subcommittees, and that Rule 80B provides the necessary due process. They describe the claims as “threadbare” and “defective.”
Councilor Lanigan has the right to respond to the Motion to Dismiss. All the documents will be reviewed by a judge in the next week or two, who will then either dismiss the case or schedule a hearing date.
Read our previous story about Councilor Lanigan’s lawsuit here: https://sanfordspringvalenews.com/lanigan-sues-mayor-city-over-removal-from-subcommittees/.
Please note: this article and the previous one detail only a few of the points made in the lengthy legal filings by both parties. The full documents are available at the Civil Clerk’s office at the courthouse in Alfred.