BOSTON — The owners of a Tremont restaurant destroyed in a 2013 fire claim that “extreme personal animus” against the couple outweighs the legal arguments presented by defendants in their lawsuit against the town’s firefighters.
Bob and Judy Cousins, owners of Cap’n Nemo’s, filed a complaint in U.S. District Court in Bangor in 2014, accusing the firefighters and others of conspiring to allow their restaurant to burn to the ground. In June 2015, a federal judge dismissed the lawsuit, stating the Cousinses had failed to state a claim. After their motion for reconsideration was turned down in August, the couple filed an appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.
In January of this year, the attorneys for the firefighters, Devin Deane and Robert Bower of Norman, Hanson and DeTroy LLC of Portland, filed a response to the Cousinses’ appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. Deane and Bower are asking the court to uphold the lower court’s dismissal of the lawsuit.
On Feb. 8, the Cousinses filed their response to the firefighters’ attorneys.
Among the arguments presented by Deane and Bower is that the Cousinses have failed to support their claim that they were victims of discrimination because firefighters did not provide them with the same protection afforded others in the same class. This “class of one” claim is based on the allegation that the couple was discriminated against by firefighters as compared to other local restaurant owners when there were fires at their businesses.
This argument by defense attorneys doesn’t take into account malice, the couple claims.
The couple, who represents themselves, states that “we have averred instances of prejudice unrelated to any official duty (that they were trying to run us out of town).”
“This complaint refers to numerous well-documented and cited instances that started shortly after we purchased the property and continue to this day,” they continue.
As evidence, the Cousinses claim one of the firefighters has said, “We’ll have to find another way to run them out of town; they have too much support.”
The Cousinses, in their most recent filing, also included six exhibits that include photographs of the scene from before, during and after the fire. Each photo has comments written in marker intended to provide more information about the fire according to the couple.
The firefighter’s attorneys have filed a motion to strike these exhibits from consideration by the court.
“None of the exhibits were submitted to or considered by the district court and, therefore should not be considered by the court on appeal,” they argue.
The firefighters also question the veracity of the Cousinses’ written comments, particularly in respect to the timing of events as depicted on the photographs, the attorneys write.