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JP Morgan Chase Bank, NA v. Grimes

Supreme Court of New Hampshire

April 7, 2015

JP Morgan Chase Bank, NA
v.
Heilan Grimes

Submitted November 12, 2014.

9th Circuit Court -- Nashua District Division.

[167 N.H. 537] Orlans Moran, PLLC, of Waltham, Massachusetts (David J. Rhein on the brief), for the plaintiff.

Gawryl, MacAllister & O'Connor, of Nashua (Jared O'Connor on the brief), for the defendant.

HICKS, J. DALIANIS, C.J., and CONBOY, LYNN, and BASSETT, JJ., concurred.

OPINION

Hicks, J.

The defendant, Heilan Grimes, appeals an order of the Circuit Court ( Ryan, J.) granting a writ of possession for property located at 54 Whitney Street in Nashua to the plaintiff, JP Morgan Chase Bank, NA. The sole issue on appeal is whether, under RSA 540:2, II(e) (Supp. 2014), a property owner's desire to market, sell and/or convey property in a vacant condition constituted " other good cause" for purposes of terminating a tenancy. We affirm.

Page 1008

The trial court found and the record supports the following facts. The plaintiff acquired the property in question on May 27, 2011, as the result of a foreclosure on a mortgage. The property is " restricted property" as defined in RSA 540:1-a, II (2014). On July 25, 2013, the plaintiff served the defendant with a " Notice to Quit/Evict Notice" pursuant to RSA 540:2, giving the defendant 90 days to vacate the property. In that notice, the plaintiff stated the reason for eviction as being for " other good cause," in that " the owner of the premises ... desires to market, sell and/or convey the property in a vacant condition." The defendant disputed that " other good cause" existed for her eviction. The trial court ruled in favor of the plaintiff, finding the plaintiff's stated reason for eviction was sufficient to fall within the statutory definition of " other good cause."

On appeal, the defendant argues that the statutory language of " other good cause" is ambiguous and that prior case law, as well as legislative intent, demonstrate that good cause does not encompass the reason proffered by the plaintiff.

The issue before us is the meaning of " other good cause" under RSA 540:2, II(e). In matters of statutory interpretation, we are the final arbiter of the legislature's intent as expressed in the words of the statute considered as a whole. Great Traditions Home Builders v. O'Connor, 157 N.H. 387, 388, 949 A.2d 724 (2008). We first examine the language found in the statute, and, when possible, we ascribe the plain and ordinary meanings to the words used. Id. If the language of a statute is plain and unambiguous, we need not look beyond it for further indication of legislative intent. Bedford Chapter-Citizens for a Sound Economy v. Sch. Admin. Unit #25, 151 N.H. 612, 614, 867 A.2d 414 (2004). If a statute is ambiguous, however, we consider legislative history to aid our analysis. State v. Whittey, 149 N.H. 463, 467, 821 A.2d 1086 (2003). Our goal is to apply statutes in light of the legislature's intent in enacting them, and in light of the policy sought to be advanced by the entire statutory scheme. Id.

[167 N.H. 538] RSA 540:2, entitled " Termination of Tenancy," provides, in pertinent part:

II. The lessor or owner of restricted property may terminate any tenancy by giving to the tenant or occupant a notice in writing to quit the premises in accordance with RSA 540:3 ...

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