Freeport seeks to have resident’s lawsuit dismissed

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FREEPORT — The town is asking Cumberland County Superior Court to dismiss a lawsuit brought against it by a South Freeport Road resident because proper legal procedures were not followed.

“Insufficient service of process” is the reason cited by two attorneys from Portland-based Bernstein Shur who are defending the town.  The town also may seek legal fees from the plaintiff, South Freeport Road resident Martina M. Sullivan.

Sullivan named the town as the defendant in the suit Town Manager Peter Joseph made public at the end of an April 4 Town Council meeting. Sullivan seeks a court injunction halting road work until more specifics about the work would be clear. Sullivan in her suit said the town did not provide detailed information about the town’s right of way to alter the road’s surface or path.

She and several other residents on March 29 at Freeport Town Hall attended a meeting to learn more about the road plans. Sullivan’s questions about the project were not hospitably received by Town Engineer Adam Bliss, according to Sullivan’s legal filing.

Two days later, on March 31, Sullivan served Joseph a summons alerting him about the law suit.

Instead of serving the town notice of the suit through Town Clerk Christine Wolfe or two other town officials, Sullivan served Joseph at his Pownal Road home.

Bernstein Shur attorneys Asha A. Echeverria and Conor Shankman wrote in the the town’s response to the suit that Sullivan erred.

“As Joseph does not serve as the clerk, selectman or assessor for the Town of Freeport, service on him personally does not meet the requirements of Rule 4(d)(5).”

Sullivan is seeking a preliminary injunction, and makes her case in a five-page petition. She wants information, not money, about the road work and how it may affect South Freeport Road residents.

The petition references the March 29 meeting, and adds older information on South Freeport Road repair plans dating back to 2014. It describes the earlier planned road work and trees cut back on Sullivan’s property.

The town approved the project in 2014. In December 2016, “South Freeport Road residents received formal Notice letters from the Town about the (upcoming) roadwork without any specifics,” the complaint states.

About 10 people attended the March 29 meeting. Sullivan arrived after the meeting started in the late afternoon. The meeting was posted online in the town’s calendar section.

Town Manager Peter Joseph said the town will respond through the courts.

“Our response that is filed with the Court will be public and it would be fair to consider the response, once it is filed, as our position on the matter,” said Joseph.

Lisa D. Connell can be reached at 781-3661, ext. 183 or Follow Lisa on Twitter: connell_ld.

Under a cloudy May 1 sky, a driver passes through the intersection of U.S. Route 1 and South Freeport Road.