October 20, 2021

Towns’ law firm to begin analysis of PERC issues

PITTSFIELD — Town Manager Dwight Dogherty provided an update to the Town Council on legal action pending against Tom Sawyer Inc. and the Penobscot Energy Recovery Co. on the breach-of-contract issue.

Last week, Dougherty met with representatives of 13 towns who have formed an informal committee to address the issue with the help of a Portland legal firm, Jensen Baird Gardner and Henry. Dougherty said that the anticipated cost of the first phase of the process is $5,000 to be divided between the participating towns based on the annual waste tonnage.

Dogherty is chairman of the committee that is expected to meet as needed throughout the process of analysis, mediation and litigation. Barry Hodge of Monroe was elected vice chairman, and Tim King, city manager of Ellsworth, is secretary-fiscal agent.

The first phase of the project will include a complete analysis by the attorneys to determine the status of the case and how to proceed, jointly in class action or in smaller groups. A determination also will be made about the type of litigation to be followed, such as breach of contract or unfair restraint of free trade. Dogherty also expects that an estimate of the legal costs will be presented at the conclusion of the analysis stage.

The analysis will need to be completed by July 1 to allow Pittsfield and other towns to meet the mediation deadline. The contract stipulates that 90 days after the breach-of-contract notification was given to PERC by the towns, mediation will begin to resolve the dispute. The breach-of-contract status began after trash from the towns was turned away by PERC in April. How mediation will be handled also will be determined by the attorneys.

The joint legal venture by the towns will save everyone money, Dogherty said.

“Essentially, it’s on a play-it-by-ear status now,” he said, “but ultimately, I think we will end up with a resolution that will be to everyone’s advantage.”

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