Court dismisses lawsuit challenging Freeport dispatch change

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FREEPORT — A Maine Superior Court justice has dismissed a lawsuit that challenged the town’s transfer of emergency medical dispatch services to Brunswick. 

Residents Marianne McGettigan, Judith Blanchard and Donald Rice did not agree with a Town Council decision last April to move emergency dispatch services to Brunswick’s communication center. A petition to overturn the council decision failed to gather enough signatures and a second petition that did collect sufficient signatures was deemed invalid by town officials.

After Freeport and Brunswick signed the agreement, the decision was approved by a Town Council order last June.  But, under the Town Charter, the agreement had to be approved by an ordinance, so the council ratified the agreement in October and corrected its procedural errors.

McGettigan, Rice and Blanchard sued in September, claiming the council action was inconsistent with the Town Charter. They also claimed that since the charter states that multi-year contracts must be approved by ordinance, a $122,500 payment made by Freeport to Brunswick was invalid.

McGettigan, Rice and Blanchard amended their complaint in October, seeking declaratory and injunctive relief. According to court documents, as residents with disabilities, both McGettigan and Rice said they were “fearful and concerned” that outsourcing dispatch services would compromise their safety.

The town sought to dismiss the complaint on the grounds that the case is moot and the residents cannot prove that the transfer of dispatch has caused them more than an abstract injury.

Superior Court Justice Nancy Mills granted the town’s request on March 29.

Town Manager Dale Olmstead said he is pleased that the town prevailed.

“I know consolidation of dispatch was a very difficult process for the community to go through, but at the end of the day it has provided a superior service,” he said. “I hope the most recent court decision brings this process to an end.”

McGettigan said she has not decided if she will appeal.

Amy Anderson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or aanderson@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: amy_k_anderson

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