BANGOR — Bob and Judy Cousins’ motion for a federal judge to reconsider the dismissal of their lawsuit against five Tremont firefighters is an attempt to rehash earlier arguments and improperly introduce “new” evidence, according to the attorney representing the firefighters.
Devin Deane, an attorney with Norman, Hanson and DeTroy LLC in Portland, filed his opposition Tuesday to the Cousins’ motion to alter or amend the U.S. District Court decision to dismiss their lawsuit. Judge D. Brock Hornby handed down the decision on June 14, stating the plaintiffs had failed to state a federal claim.
The Cousinses owned Cap’n Nemo’s restaurant in Tremont, which was destroyed in a December 2013 fire. The couple, who represent themselves, allege Tremont firefighters violated their constitutional rights and accused them of “terroristic arson.” Bob Cousins is a disabled veteran, and the couple further alleges that he is a victim of discrimination.
In his opposition, Deane notes that Rule 59(e), the federal court rule allowing the Cousinses to ask the court to reconsider the dismissal, is an “extraordinary remedy” which should only be used when there is new evidence not previously available, a change in applicable laws, or if there is a need to correct a clear error of law or application of justice. The couple, he argues, is using the rule improperly by making the same claims as made in the complaint the court has dismissed and by attempting to introduce evidence that they had ample time to present prior to the dismissal.
In a phone interview Wednesday, Deane said the Cousinses have until Aug. 18 to respond to his opposition. He expects the court to rule on the matter quickly.
“I don’t think the court will be pleased that they are using Rule 59(e) for this purpose,” he said.
Deane acknowledged that, although some of the claims by the couple seem far-fetched, in responding, he must take their claims as fact.
“Even on their best day, they just don’t have federal claims,” he added.
If the court denies the plaintiff’s motion, they can still file an appeal with the court, Deane said.
In the lawsuit, the Cousinses were asking the court to award them relief for their losses and also sought punitive damages. The couple claim their losses amount to $1.87 million, and because Robert Cousins is a disabled veteran, they are entitled to three times that amount in relief. Those losses include what they claim was “a rare prepostal stamp collection” and “fantasies and unpublished issues” valued at $1 million.