337 A.2d 661 (Me. 1975), Ace Ambulance Service, Inc. v. City of Augusta

Citation337 A.2d 661
Opinion JudgeWEATHERBEE,
Party NameACE AMBULANCE SERVICE, INC. v. The CITY OF AUGUSTA.
AttorneyJohn L. Hamilton, Lewiston, for plaintiff. Sanborn, Moreshead, Schade & Dawson, by Richard B. Sanborn, Augusta, for defendant.
Judge PanelBefore DUFRESNE, C. J., and WEATHERBEE, POMEROY, WERNICK, ARCHIBALD and DELAHANTY, JJ.
Case DateMay 15, 1975
CourtSupreme Judicial Court of Maine

Page 661

337 A.2d 661 (Me. 1975)

ACE AMBULANCE SERVICE, INC.

v.

The CITY OF AUGUSTA.

Supreme Judicial Court of Maine.

May 15, 1975

John L. Hamilton, Lewiston, for plaintiff.

Sanborn, Moreshead, Schade & Dawson, by Richard B. Sanborn, Augusta, for defendant.

Before DUFRESNE, C. J., and WEATHERBEE, POMEROY, WERNICK, ARCHIBALD and DELAHANTY, JJ.

WEATHERBEE, Justice.

This appeal involves the dismissal of a complaint brought in Superior Court, Androscoggin County, by the appellant, Ace Ambulance Service, Inc., against the City

Page 662

of Augusta and the City of Gardiner, the County of Kennebec and the Southern Kennebec Valley Regional Planning Commission. We deny the appeal.

The appellant, a private ambulance service operating throughout the Southern Kennebec Valley Region (which includes the City of Augusta), alleged that the defendants

'jointly and individually plan to organize a non-profit ambulance service which will compete with plaintiff at lower prices and which will thereby cause losses to plaintiff in the form of diminution in the value of current capital investment, lost revenue and lost profits.'

The appellant in its complaint seeks (1) to have the defendants enjoined from organizing, subsidizing or in any other manner undertaking the provision of ambulance service and, (2) in the alternative, the appellant seeks compensation for deprivation of its property which it alleged would be caused by fulfillment of the defendants' plans.

The defendant, The City of Augusta, in its answer, admitted that it is involved in plans to carry on a public ambulance service, claiming clear legislative authorization under 30 M.R.S.A. § 5105(7). 1

The presiding Justice granted a motion to dismiss the complaint as to all the defendants except the County of Kennebec for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. M.R.C.P., Rule 12(b)(6). 2 The appellant appealed from the dismissal only as to the defendant City of Augusta.

The nature of an appeal from a Rule 12(b)(6) dismissal requires a full inspection of the claims which might entitle a plaintiff-appellant to relief. The sufficiency of a complaint is measured by a standard less harsh than that applied upon the filing of a demurrer under our former practice. We have said that a complaint should not be dismissed under Rule 12(b)(6)

"unless it appears to a certainty that plaintiff is entitled to no relief under any state of facts which could be proved in support of the claim." Richards v. Ellis, Me., 233 A.2d 37, 38 (1967) (quoting from 2A Moore, § 12.08) (emphasis in the original). 3

See also Cohen v. Bowdoin, Me., 288 A.2d 106 (1972); New England Merchants National Bank v. McKinnon, Me., 307 A.2d 225 (1973); Field, McKusick and Wroth, Maine Civil Practice, Vol. I, § 12:11.

Here, as in Richards, the almost obvious issues concern broad principles of substantive law. The present complaint alleges an invasion into the field of ambulance service by a municipal corporation in competition with existing private service. The defendant City answers that it was authorized to enter this field by a statute enacted by the Legislature. Although not specifically pleaded, we find it implicit in the

Page 663

complaint that the plaintiff disputes the constitutionality of a statute which purports to endow a municipality with such unconditional authority.

It is also discernible from the complaint, although also not specifically alleged, that the plaintiff claims, alternatively, an entitlement to money damages on the theory that the City's entrance into the field will constitute a taking of part of the plaintiff's existing business in the nature of eminent domain. The City does not dispute that this has been its understanding of the plaintiff's alternative allegation.

Our problem then becomes one of the application of substantive law.

Constitutionality of the Statute

On appeal, the plaintiff urges us that the Legislature may constitutionally permit a municipality to enter this private sector in competition with existing private service only if it is determined that the existing local private service is inadequate. 4 A municipality, we are reminded, may raise and appropriate money for proper public purposes only. Laughlin v. City of Portland, 111 Me. 486, 490, 90 A. 318, 320 (1914). The defendant concedes that providing emergency ambulance service to injured and sick persons in need of immediate medical attention is a proper public service as such-but argues that under the rule established in Laughlin a particular municipality may not engage in this activity, even with statutory authorization, if the needs of its citizens are already being served adequately by private individuals. We do not so construe Laughlin.

Laughlin has long been considered definitive as to the Legislature's authority to authorize municipalities to enter fields of endeavor already occupied by commercial enterprise. Laughlin reasoned that the authority for a municipality to raise and appropriate money is akin to the right to take private property by eminent domain and is limited by art. I, § 21 of the Maine Constitution. Public funds, the Court said, can be spent only for 'public purposes' and only as 'the public exigencies require it.' 111 Me. at 490, 90 A. at 320. The Legislature's...

To continue reading

FREE SIGN UP
14 practice notes
  • 450 A.2d 475 (Me. 1982), Seven Islands Land Co. v. Maine Land Use Regulation Com'n
    • United States
    • Maine Supreme Judicial Court of Maine
    • September 17, 1982
    ...v. Allard, 444 U.S. 51, 66, 100 S.Ct. 318, 327, 62 L.Ed.2d 210 (1980). See also Ace Ambulance Service, Inc. v. City of Augusta, Me., 337 A.2d 661, 666-67 (1975). [1] The Petitioner asserts no claim that it has sustained injury itself. Rather the Petitioner avers that it brings this action f......
  • 373 A.2d 1221 (Me. 1977), Nelson v. Maine Times
    • United States
    • Maine Supreme Judicial Court of Maine
    • June 3, 1977
    ...We have frequently stated our reservations surrounding the use of 12(b)(6) motions. See Ace Ambulance Service, Inc. v. City of Augusta, 337 A.2d 661, 662 (Me.1975); Jones v. Billings, 289 A.2d 39, 40-41 (Me.1972); Richards v. Ellis, 233 A.2d 37, 38 (Me.1967). We would have serious doubts co......
  • 377 A.2d 444 (Me. 1977), Weeks v. Kelley
    • United States
    • Maine Supreme Judicial Court of Maine
    • September 6, 1977
    ...have entitled it to relief against Merrill, its dismissal on a 12(b)(6) motion was error. Ace Ambulance Service, Inc. v. City of Augusta, 337 A.2d 661 (Me.1975); Richards v. Ellis, 233 A.2d 37, 38 (Me.1967). See also Nelson v. Times, 373 A.2d 1221 (Me.1977). The entry is: Appeal sustained. ......
  • 543 A.2d 361 (Me. 1988), Fuller v. Town of Searsport
    • United States
    • Maine Supreme Judicial Court of Maine
    • June 29, 1988
    ...the courts unless there was no rational basis to support a finding that an exigency existed. 2 Ace Ambulance Service v. City of Augusta, 337 A.2d 661, 663 (Me.1975). Fuller does not appear to dispute that the easement was for a public use. There is no evidence in the record of a manifest ab......
  • Free signup to view additional results
14 cases
  • 450 A.2d 475 (Me. 1982), Seven Islands Land Co. v. Maine Land Use Regulation Com'n
    • United States
    • Maine Supreme Judicial Court of Maine
    • September 17, 1982
    ...v. Allard, 444 U.S. 51, 66, 100 S.Ct. 318, 327, 62 L.Ed.2d 210 (1980). See also Ace Ambulance Service, Inc. v. City of Augusta, Me., 337 A.2d 661, 666-67 (1975). [1] The Petitioner asserts no claim that it has sustained injury itself. Rather the Petitioner avers that it brings this action f......
  • 373 A.2d 1221 (Me. 1977), Nelson v. Maine Times
    • United States
    • Maine Supreme Judicial Court of Maine
    • June 3, 1977
    ...We have frequently stated our reservations surrounding the use of 12(b)(6) motions. See Ace Ambulance Service, Inc. v. City of Augusta, 337 A.2d 661, 662 (Me.1975); Jones v. Billings, 289 A.2d 39, 40-41 (Me.1972); Richards v. Ellis, 233 A.2d 37, 38 (Me.1967). We would have serious doubts co......
  • 377 A.2d 444 (Me. 1977), Weeks v. Kelley
    • United States
    • Maine Supreme Judicial Court of Maine
    • September 6, 1977
    ...have entitled it to relief against Merrill, its dismissal on a 12(b)(6) motion was error. Ace Ambulance Service, Inc. v. City of Augusta, 337 A.2d 661 (Me.1975); Richards v. Ellis, 233 A.2d 37, 38 (Me.1967). See also Nelson v. Times, 373 A.2d 1221 (Me.1977). The entry is: Appeal sustained. ......
  • 543 A.2d 361 (Me. 1988), Fuller v. Town of Searsport
    • United States
    • Maine Supreme Judicial Court of Maine
    • June 29, 1988
    ...the courts unless there was no rational basis to support a finding that an exigency existed. 2 Ace Ambulance Service v. City of Augusta, 337 A.2d 661, 663 (Me.1975). Fuller does not appear to dispute that the easement was for a public use. There is no evidence in the record of a manifest ab......
  • Free signup to view additional results