ELLSWORTH — The couple suing Tremont firefighters for a 2013 fire that destroyed their restaurant have filed a new complaint against the town and others in state court regarding a stop work order issued during their attempt to rebuild.
Bob and Judy Cousins, who owned Cap’n Nemo’s restaurant, filed a Rule 80b complaint in Hancock County District Court on April 28. Rule 80b complaints ask the court to review a governmental action. In the Cousinses’ case, they are appealing the October 2015 decision by Tremont’s code enforcement officer to issue a stop work order because her calculations showed that a portion of a concrete slab poured as part of the couple’s reconstruction effort was closer to the property line than permissible under the town’s zoning ordinance and as indicated on their building permit issued earlier that year.
As in their federal case against firefighters, the Cousinses are representing themselves.
The court so far has taken no action on the Rule 80b complaint. Devin Deane of Norman, Hanson and DeTroy in Portland, who represents the firefighters in the federal case, said earlier this week that he had not seen the complaint but questioned whether it had been filed within the proper time frame.
Maine Rules of Civil Procedure state that Rule 80b complaints must be filed within 30 days after notice of a governmental action. The stop work notice was issued on Oct. 19, 2015.
Named as defendants are the town of Tremont, Town Manager Dana Reed, former Code Enforcement Officer Debbi Nickerson, fire Chief Keith Higgins, firefighter Heath Higgins, the Mount Desert Islander, the paper’s Publisher Alan Baker, Editor Earl Brechlin and Reporter Mark Good.
The Cousinses’ complaint includes counts of negligent infliction of emotional distress, interference with advantageous economic relations, false light, defamation, “injurious falsehood” and violation of due process.
The couple is asking the court to award them a judgment that “is appropriate under the circumstances” together with costs and interests.
The federal case against the firefighters continues in U.S. District Court. Earlier this year, all but four claims in the Cousinses’ complaint were dismissed by the court as well as claims against the town and the Islander and its staff. At the time, Deane said the remaining claims are all related to the fire and give the firefighter defendants the opportunity to tell their side of the story and establish a record necessary for summary judgment in their favor.