Law Offices of Martha A. Dean

Law Offices of Martha A. Dean ... because your rights and your freedom matter.

       ENVIRONMENTAL LAW: Our firm represents commercial establishments, land owners, outdoor shooting ranges and select individuals with environmental compliance, enforcement defense, dispute resolution, cost recovery, remediation, and legislative/policy objectives. We are committed to providing the highest quality legal services in an efficient, creative and cost-effective manner.  We serve as compliance/enforcement defense counsel to corporations on the full range of environmental and hazardous chemical/worker safety issues. We frequently work collaboratively with teams of legal and technical experts to assess and develop strategies for resolving clients' legal issues in the context of complex business transactions and liability disputes. 

     SHOOTING RANGE DEFENSE: We have achieved unparalleled success defending outdoor shooting ranges in litigation around the country. We also provide environmental, safety, and noise-related strategic advice and legal guidance to shooting ranges. 

     CONSTITUTIONAL LAW: We challenge inappropriate government action under the federal and state constitutions, appealing adverse decisions where appropriate. Past cases have involved the state's balanced budget amendment, free speech/campaign finance issues, arbitration clauses in adhesion contracts and the rights of consumers to a jury trial. Currently, we serve as local counsel to a national team representing organizations and individuals who are challenging Connecticut's post-Newtown firearms law under the 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. 

       Whether on the public policy or the practical side of the law, we have distinguished ourselves by identifying cost-effective, creative, fast-track approaches that bring finality to difficult situations.

IN THE NEWS...

Total victory for outdoor range!

JULY 30, 2014 - Zuendel v. Board of Trustees of the Waterworks and Electric Light and Power Plant of the City of Winterset, Iowa (we represented the owner of the land on which the outdoor range is located, the Board of Trustees of the Waterworks and Electric Light and Power Plant of the City of Winterset, Iowa, in litigation brought by the developer, Zuendel, to shut down an outdoor shooting range). 

The Iowa District Court has just dismissed the last pending appeal challenging the outdoor range operated by the Madison Sportsmen's Club of Winterset, Iowa.  The City of Winterset and the Club are finally free of developer-driven litigation. It was our pleasure to work with local counsel to defend the City of Winterset's Utility Board (owner of the land on which the range is located) and assist this important range remain a fixture in the beautiful Winterset community where it will now serve future generations.

Constitutional claims filed...

FEBRUARY 12, 2014 - Juber v. Barnes CV NO. 3:14-cv-00090-VHB  (we are local counsel for the National Right to Work Foundation representing the plaintiff teachers)

"A group of former state employee union members, some of whom wanted to change unions after the animosity created by the 2011 concession package, are suing the state and its union in a class-action complaint.

Late last month, about eight current and retired state employees who are members of CSEA/SEIU Local 2001 and the Engineering, Scientific and Technical P-4 bargaining group, alleged in court that the state has been withdrawing the full amount of union dues from their paychecks.

In the complaint filed on Jan. 25 in U.S. District Court in Hartford, the employees say that even though they left the union and resigned their membership, the state continued to withdraw the full amount of union dues from their paychecks. Instead, the state should have been withdrawing the lesser “agency fee.” ...

The complaint was filed by Martha Dean’s law firm on behalf of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation.

According to its website, the foundation’s mission is “to eliminate coercive union power and compulsory unionism abuses through strategic litigation, public information, and education programs.”

SOURCE: http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/archives/entry/state_employees_file_class_action_over_union_dues

Range victory in Iowa's lower court upheld on appeal...

FEBRUARY 5, 2014

Zuendel v. Board of Trustees of the Waterworks and Electric Light and Power Plant of the City of Winterset, Iowa, Court of Appeals of Iowa, No. 3-1109/13-0475 (we represent, along with local Iowa counsel, the Board of Trustees of the Waterworks and Electric Light and Power Plant of the City of Winterset, Iowa)

WINTERSET, IOWA - "The City of Winterset, in Madison County, Iowa, owns a seven-acre parcel of land that is zoned for conservation-open space. The land is managed by the board of trustees of the Waterworks and Electric Light and Power Plant. Since about 1980, there has been an outdoor shooting range on the property. The shooting range was originally organized by the Madison County Conservation Board, the Iowa State Conservation Commission, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, local officials, and the Madison County Sportsmen's Club, Inc. In recent years, the Club has operated the range, and makes an annual lease payment of one dollar to the city.

"The Club operates the range for public benefit, and makes the space available for a variety of public purposes including hunter education and law enforcement training. In 2011, the lease was up for renewal and public hearings were held. Zuendel Investment, Inc., is a real estate developer that owns residential property in the town. It objected to the continuation of the shooting range, and Mr. Zuendel appeared at the hearings with his attorney. He expressed concerns about noise, health, safety, and environmental concerns. He also claimed that the shooting range violated zoning laws and was inconsistent with the City's development plans.

"After much research, the Board made a new lease agreement with the Club for another five years. Dissatisfied with the board's decision, Zuendel filed a petition with the district court of Madison County. He argued that the lease was an illegal gift under Iowa Code 364.7 because it amounted to an illegal gift of city property to the Club. The Board asked for the case to be dismissed, and the District Court agreed, granting the Board's motion for summary judgment.

"Zuendel, Inc., displeased with this action, took the case to the Iowa Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals did concede that Zuendel had standing to bring the action, since it was the owner of adjoining property and the shooting range did affect those interests.

"But on the merits, the Court of Appeals was not sympathetic. It noted that the argument regarding Iowa Code 364.7 should have been brought up before the board, and not for the first time when the case got to court. For that reason alone, the Court of Appeals held that the lower court's action should be affirmed.

"Since Zuendel had not properly raised the argument before the Board, the Court of Appeals affirmed the district court's dismissal of the petition."  Source: http://www.richardclem.com/casesummaries/ZuendelWinterset.html

No. 3-1109 / 13-0475 (Iowa Ct. App. Feb. 5, 2014) 

Link to decision > http://statecasefiles.justia.com/documents/iowa/court-of-appeals/3-1109-13-0475.pdf?ts=1391616324

2nd Amendment: Appeal filed...

FEBRUARY 4, 2014

Shew v. Malloy  CV No. 3:13-cv-00739-AVC (we are local counsel to a national team of 2nd Amendment lawyers representing the plaintiff firearms owners, firearms retailers, and firearms owner organizations)

"HARTFORD - Just one day after receiving an adverse ruling from the lower federal court on their Second Amendment challenge to Connecticut’s new firearms law, the plaintiff-firearms owners and organizations filed a formal notice of their intention to appeal the ruling. In addition to following the U.S. Supreme Court precedents in the renowned cases of Heller and MacDonald, the lower federal court deciding the case was bound to follow recent precedents of the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York. To date, the Second Circuit has upheld laws that place greater restrictions on the right to bear arms than have courts in federal circuits in other parts of the country. It is these diverging views of the Second Amendment on issues that were not resolved by the U.S. Supreme Court in Heller and MacDonald that make it likely that the Supreme Court will decide to hear one or more Second Amendment cases in the next few years.

Although the legal conclusions did not go their way at this initial stage of the litigation, the lower court did make factual findings that gun owners view as favorable. For example, the court found that certain of the newly banned firearms, such as the popular AR-15, are in “common use” for lawful purposes throughout the nation. The AR-15 type modern sporting rifle, which is newly classified as an “assault weapon” under the legislation, is the leading type of firearm used in national shooting matches and in other competitions sponsored by the congressionally established Civilian Marksmanship Program.  The court also found that banning such commonly used firearms places a “substantial burden” on fundamental Second Amendment rights."

SOURCE:  Press Release, Brian Stapleton, Esq.,Goldberg Segalla, lead trial counsel for the plaintiffs in Shew v. Malloy.