BANGOR — The attorneys for Tremont firefighters have moved for the court to dismiss all but five of the 16 claims in Bob and Judy Cousins’ amended complaint against the firefighters and others.
Attorneys Devin Deane and Robert Bower of Norman, Hanson and DeTroy LLC in Portland filed the motion Nov. 4 in U.S. District Court, arguing that the claims they seek to have dismissed go beyond the scope of a Sept. 7 federal appeals court decision that remanded several of the claims in the Cousinses’ lawsuit to the district court for reconsideration.
Also on Nov. 4, the attorneys separately filed an answer to the amended complaint, which the Cousinses filed in October.
The Cousinses, who represent themselves, first filed their lawsuit in federal district court in December 2014, accusing firefighters and others of conspiring to allow their restaurant, Cap’n Nemo’s, to burn to the ground a year earlier.
A district court judge dismissed the lawsuit in June 2015, ruling that the couple had failed to state a claim. After their motion for reconsideration was turned down, the Cousinses filed an appeal in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston. While the First Circuit affirmed some of the lower court’s decisions, it did find the district court improperly dismissed the Cousinses’ claims that their rights to due process and equal protection had been violated.
The equal protection and due process claims plus three counts claiming that, under state law, the Cousinses were the targets of “intentional infliction of emotional distress” and that the firefighters failed to carry out their duty in fighting the fire are the only counts the court should consider, Deane and Bower maintain.
“The additional counts are either outside of the court’s subject matter jurisdiction, fail to state a claim, have already been dismissed and were not appealed/or were affirmed on appeal, or involve a separate case and controversy altogether,” the attorneys wrote.
The amended complaint also names 17 defendants, many of whom were either dismissed by the district court or added in the couple’s amended complaint.
For the first time, the attorney’s wrote, the Cousinses “assert procedural due process violations against the town of Tremont code enforcement officer Debbi Nickerson and town of Tremont town manager Dana Reed and defamation claims against the local newspaper, the Mount Desert Islander, and its publisher Alan Baker, editor Earl Brechlin and reporter Mark Good.” These claims and these defendants should be dismissed because they are unrelated to the claims against the firefighters, the attorneys argue.
In their answer to the amended complaint, the attorneys deny the Cousinses’ claims that firefighters failed to provide equal protection, that the couple’s rights to due process were violated, that the defendants intentionally inflicted emotional distress, that firefighters were negligent in maintaining equipment and in fighting the fire, and that the firefighters engaged in arson.
The attorneys are moving to have the court dismiss the equal protection, due process, emotional distress and arson claims. They also are asking the court to award the defendants attorney fees and costs on all but the arson claim.