Buck v. Town of Yarmouth – Case Brief Summary (Maine)

In Buck v. Town of Yarmouth, 402 A.2d 860 (Me. 1979), the town council refused to take the same type of action that the appellants at bar seek from the Town of Carmel, namely, the inclusion of a proposed article in a warrant for a town meeting or arrangement for a special town meeting when that article would be considered. Id. at 861.

The petition at issue in Buck, which was presented to the Yarmouth town council under the statutory predecessor to section 2522, was designed to force a municipal election on the petitioners' proposal to withdraw funding for a municipal recreation facility. Id.

Concluding that the petitioners did not have standing to challenge the town council's refusal to call a town meeting where the article would be the subject of a vote by the local voters, the Law Court reiterated the notion that "a private individual can apply for this remedy (against allegedly illegal action or inaction by public officials) only in those cases, where he has some private or particular interest to be subserved, or some particular right to be pursued or protected . . ., independent of that which he holds in common with the public at large; and it is for the public officers, exclusively to apply, when public rights are to be subserved." Id. at 861.

The Court held that the petitioners' injury was not the town's decision to continue the funding for the recreational facility. Rather, the injury was the denial of an opportunity to vote on that issue at a town meeting. 402 A.2d at 862; see also id. at n.4.

The Court concluded that the town "council's refusal to comply with plaintiffs' request to include the submitted article for vote at a town meeting affects all voters of the Town of Yarmouth alike." Id. at 462. In other words, because none of the town's voters would have the opportunity to vote on the issue, the petitioners stood in a position identical to all other voters and therefore could not show particularized injury.