Justia Real Estate & Property Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Maine Supreme Judicial Court
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In this foreclosure action, the Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment of the district court entered in favor of Duane Beedle, holding that the court erred in concluding that U.S. Bank, N.A. did not prove that it owned the mortgage and therefore did not have standing to file a foreclosure action. In 2003, Beedle executed a note and mortgage in favor of Fleet National Bank for the purchase of certain property. In 2012, the mortgage was assigned to U.S. Bank, as trustee for Assignee #1. In 2016, Beedle was sent a notice of default. Beedle declared the entire principal amount outstanding. In 2017, a second assignment was executed, by which U.S. Bank claimed that Assignee #1 assigned its interest in the mortgage to U.S. Bank. U.S. Bank subsequently commenced this foreclosure action. The district court entered judgment for the Beedles, concluding that U.S. Bank failed to prove ownership of the mortgage due to a "faulty" 2012 assignment. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment, holding that the 2012 assignment of the mortgage was enforceable. View "U.S. Bank, N.A. v. Beedle" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment of the superior court entering a declaratory judgment in favor of Ingrid Doyon, Trustee of the Oscar Olson Jr. Trust, holding that the trial court erred in interpreting a 1941 deed that contained language restriction development of three lots in a subdivision. In 2012, Ingrid Doyon acquired the three lots - Lots 3, 5, and 72 - as trustee of her father's trust. Doyon subsequently conveyed two of the lots but retained her interest in Lot 72. In 2014, Doyon initiated a declaratory judgment action seeking a determination that the restrictive covenant burdening Lot 72 permitted her to construct a single family home and garage on the property. The court issued a judgment in favor of Doyon. The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment, holding that the 1941 deed unambiguously limited the construction that could take place on Lot 72 to a garage to be used with Lot 3, subject to certain setback specifications. View "Doyon v. Fantini" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment of the superior court affirming a decision of the Town of York Board of Appeals purporting to grant Daniel and Susan Raposa's appeal from a decision of the Town's Code Enforcement Officer (CEO), holding that because the Board's written findings of fact directly nullified its decision to grant the appeal, the matter must be remanded for further proceedings. The Raposas contacted the Town's CEO to express their concern that Joshua Gammon's use of his property was not consistent with his predecessor's lawful nonconforming use. The CEO determined that Gammon's operation of his business on his property was not a change in use from his predecessor's use of the property. On appeal, the Board granted the Raposas' appeal as to the change-of-use issue. In the Board's written decision, however, the Board stated, "The use of the lot by Mr. Gammon's landscaping business does not constitute a change of use but is an intensification of the same use." The superior court affirmed, concluding that the Board's written decision was the operative decision for judicial review. The Supreme Judicial Court held that because the Board's written decision contained factual findings directly contradicting its initial decision, the matter must be remanded for further proceedings. View "Raposa v. Town of York" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the business and consumer docket vacating a decision by the Town of Lamoine Board of Appeals that reversed the Town Planning Board's denial of Hard MacQuinn, Inc.'s application for a permit under the Town's site plan review ordinance and affirming and reinstating the Planning Board's decision, holding that the lower court did not err. Specifically, the Supreme Judicial Court held (1) the Me. R. Civ. P. 80B complaint filed by Friends of Lamoine and Jeffrey Dow as Trustee for the Tweedie Trust was timely; (2) the Board of Appeals properly conducted appellate review of the site plan permit decision rather than de novo review; (3) the Planning Board’s findings in denying the permit were supported by substantial evidence; and (4) MacQuinn's argument that the Planning Board should have waived a criterion of the ordinance as duplicative or inapplicable did not require discussion. View "Friends of Lamoine v. Town of Lamoine" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court in favor of David Abildgaard following a trial on the foreclosure complaint filed by Wilmington Savings Fund Society, FSB, as Trustee for RPMLT 2014-1 Trust, Series 2014-1, holding that Wilmington failed to present evidence at trial of all necessary elements of its foreclosure claim. Abildgaard executed and delivered a promissory note and allonge in favor of Wilmington secured by a mortgage on real property located in Portland. Over a decade later, after Abildgaard defaulted on the loan, Wilmington filed a foreclosure complaint. After a bench trial, the court entered judgment for Abildgaard. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that Wilmington failed to present evidence to establish all required elements of its foreclosure claim, and therefore, Abildgaard was entitled to a judgment on the merits. View "Wilmington Savings Fund Society, FSB v. Abildgaard" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the probate court interpreting a divorce judgment and ruling that certain real property once held in joint tenancy by Karen Hatch and Kendall Hatch, was an assets of Kendall's estate, holding that the probate court's decision represented a reasonable interpretation of the underlying divorce judgment. Karen appealed the probate court's judgment, arguing that the court erred in holding that the joint tenancy was severed and that Kendell was the sole owner of the property at issue at the time of his death. Rather, Karen contended, the property was still held in joint tenancy at the time of Kendall's death and that she became sole owner by right of survivorship when he died. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that the probate court did not err in interpreting the divorce judgment and subsequent orders of the district court in concluding that title to the property vested in Kendall before his death and that the joint tenancy was severed. View "In re Estate of Kendall W. Hatch Jr." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court vacated in part and affirmed in part the lower court's judgment in favor of Plaintiffs and against Compass Harbor Village Condominium Association and Compass Harbor Village, LLC (collectively, Compass Harbor), holding that the court erred in ordering specific performance and entering judgment for Plaintiffs on the claim brought pursuant to the Maine Unfair Trade Practices Act (UTPA), Me. Rev. Stat. 5, 205-A to 2014. Plaintiffs brought suit alleging that Compass Harbor's actions with respect to maintenance and governance of the Association caused their units to lose value. The lower court found that Compass Harbor breached the contracts between it and Plaintiffs, the LLC violated its fiduciary duties to Plaintiffs, and Compass Harbor violated section 207 of the UTPA. The court awarded damages to Plaintiffs and entered an order of specific performance requiring Compass Harbor to abide by its contractual and fiduciary duties in the future. The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment in part, holding (1) the UTPA did not apply in this case; (2) the court did not clearly err in calculating damages; and (3) the court went beyond its discretion in entering an order that would involve the court in continuous supervision of Compass Harbor's performance over an indefinite period. View "Brown v. Compass Harbor Village Condominium Ass'n" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the superior court's judgment dismissing with prejudice the foreclosure complaint filed by a Bank and affirmed the order of sanctions imposed on the Bank, holding that the complaint should have been dismissed without prejudice. On remand from the Supreme Judicial Court, the superior court granted the Bank's motion to voluntarily dismiss its foreclosure complaint without prejudice. Thomas Manning filed a motion for reconsideration of the court's order. After judicial settlement conferences, Manning filed a renewed motion for contempt against the Bank for its conduct at the settlement conference. Manning argued that the court should dismiss the foreclosure complaint with prejudice or, in the alternative, hold the Bank in contempt and impose sanctions. The court granted the motion for contempt and imposed sanctions, ordering the Bank to pay Manning's attorney fees and costs. The court then granted Manning's earlier motion for reconsideration and dismissed with prejudice the Bank's foreclosure complaint as a sanction for the Bank's conduct at the judicial settlement conference. The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment in part, holding that the trial court abused its discretion in both granting Manning's motion for reconsideration and imposing sanctions on the Bank, including a dismissal with prejudice of the foreclosure complaint. View "U.S. Bank National Ass'n v. Manning" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the district court partitioning real property in Kittery held by Toralf Strand and Sabrina Velandry as tenants in common, holding that the court did not err in dividing equally the value of the property after crediting Strand with the amount his spent for insurance, repairs, improvements, and real estate taxes. In 2014, Strand signed a purchase and sale agreement solely in his name to buy the house and included Velandry on the deed as a tenant in common. After the parties separated, Strand filed a complaint for equitable partition of the property pursuant to 14 Me. Rev. Stat. 6051(7). The court awarded Strand the amount his spent on insurance, improvements, repairs, and real estate taxes and then divided the property's remaining appraisal value equally between Strand and Velandry. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) because the court found that Strand did not condition Velandry's interest as a tenant in common on her agreement to pay Strand half of the property's purchase price, the court did not err in applying the presumption of equal ownership and entering judgment accordingly; and (2) the court did not clearly err in disallowing certain of Strand's claimed credits and set-off. View "Strand v. Velandry" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of foreclosure entered by the district court in favor of U.S. Bank, holding that the district court did not err in concluding that U.S. Bank had standing to foreclose. U.S. Bank filed a complaint for foreclosure. At a hearing, the court admitted, over Jim Gordon's objection, a copy if a 2016 "Ratification of Assignment" stating that Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc., as nominee for EquiFirst Corporation, assigned the mortgage in this case to U.S. Bank. The court ultimately concluded that U.S. Bank had standing to foreclose pursuant to the 2016 ratification and entered a judgment of foreclosure in favor of U.S. Bank. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) the court did not abuse its discretion by admitting the copy of the 2016 ratification; and (2) the court did not err in concluding that U.S. Bank had standing. View "U.S. Bank National Association v. Gordon" on Justia Law