Appeals Court: TOWN OF HULL vs. KANSKY

The Appeals Court on February 21, 2018 issued its Rule 1:28 decision in Town of Hull v Kansky in which it affirmed a ruling of a Housing Court Judge that the defendant, in a code enforcement matter, was not entitled to a trial by jury.  In this case, the Town of Hull sought and obtained a permanent injunction against the defendant from her excessive feeding of birds which had created a public nuisance and health hazard.  One of the issues during the proceedings before the Housing Court was whether the defendant was entitled to a jury trial.  The Town opposed that request on the basis that the relief sought was equitable, which in the absence of a specific statute did not permit a jury trial.  After the trial and the permanent injunction issuing, the defendant appealed to the Appeals Court.  The sole issue involved in the appeal was whether she was entitled to a jury trial.  The Appeals Court, in summarizing the law that there is no right to a jury trial in equitable matters, affirmed the action of the Housing Court in denying the jury claim.  The outcome might have been different had the Town also sought monetary damages, thus suggesting municipalities need to be careful as to the relief they seek.  Congrats to MMLA member and Hull Town Counsel James Lampke who represented the Town during the trial and appeal.  Click here for the the full text of the Court’s decision.

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