Justia Real Estate & Property Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Maine Supreme Judicial Court
by
The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the decision of the superior court affirming the order of the Saco River Corridor Commission denying Appellant's application to build a privacy fence along a portion of his property, holding that the Commission's decision was supported by substantial evidence in the record.The Commission denied Appellant's application on the grounds that a privacy fence along a portion of his property would unreasonably despoil the scenic, rural, and open space character of the Saco River Corridor. On appeal, Appellant argued (1) the Commission's "scenic view" rule, 94-412 C.M.R. ch. 103, 2(G)(3), is unconstitutionally void for vagueness and conflicts with the Saco River Corridor Act, Me. Rev. Stat. 38, 951-959; and (2) the Commission's decision to deny the permit was not supported by substantial evidence. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) the "scenic view" rule does not conflict with the Act, nor is it unconstitutionally void for vagueness; and (2) the Commission's decision was supported by substantial evidence. View "Ouellette v. Saco River Corridor Commission" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment of the superior court affirming the decision of the Town of Boothbay Harbor's Board of Appeals (BOA) denying 29 McKown, LLC's administrative appeal from a code enforcement officer's (CEO) decision to life a stop work order he had issued to Harbor Crossing during the construction of the building, holding that 29 McKown was deprived of administrative due process.In this case concerning a real estate office building constructed by Harbor Crossing in Boothbay Harbor, 29 McKown sought review of the denial of its McKown's appeal. The superior court affirmed the BOA's decision. The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the order below, holding (1) 29 McKown was deprived of administrative due process; and (2) the CEO did not issue a judicially-reviewable decision in lifting the stop work order. View "29 McKown LLC v. Town of Boothbay Harbor" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment of the superior court affirming the judgment of the district court that denied Landlord's forcible entry and detainer (FED) action to oust Tenant from possession of Landlord's property, holding that Tenant's breach of the terms of its lease entitled Landlord to issuance of a writ of possession.The district court concluded that Landlord was not entitled to possession of the subject property because Tenant's failure to pay its rent was at least in part excused by the force majeure clause in the parties' lease. The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment, holding that Tenant's breach of the terms of its lease entitled Landlord to issuance of a writ of possession. View "55 Oak Street LLC v. RDR Enterprises, Inc." on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment of the district court that characterized the court's prior order on Appellants' motion for a preliminary injunction as a ruling on the merits and entering a final judgment without holding a hearing, holding that the court's order violated Me. R. Civ. P. 65(b)(2).Appellants filed this complaint alleging violations of the statutory warranty of habitability and an illegal eviction and seeking injunctive and declaratory relief. After a hearing, the court entered an order granting in part and denying in part Appellants' request for a preliminary injunction. Thereafter, Appellants filed a request for default judgment. The court denied the request and then entered the order as a final judgment. The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment below, holding that the order, which treated the hearing on the motion for a preliminary injunction as a consolidated hearing on the motion and on the merits, violated Me. R. Civ. P. 65(b)(2) and offended due process. View "McKeeman v. Duchaine" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Judicial Court vacated in part the judgment of the superior court affirming the Board of Environmental Protection's decision to upheld a cleanup order issued by the Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection pursuant to Me. Rev. Stat. 38, 1365 against Sultan Corporation for hazardous substances located on its property, holding that the Board improperly declined to address the availability of a third-party defense.In upholding the Commissioner's remediation order the Board expressly declined to reach the issue of whether the third-party defense afforded by Me. Rev. Stat. 38, 1367(3) was available to Sultan in an appeal of a Commissioner's section 1365 order because of the Board's conclusion that even if the defense were available, Sultan failed to prove the elements of the defense by a preponderance of the evidence. The superior court affirmed. The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the portion of the Board's order in which the Board declined to address the availability of the third-party defense, holding that the question of whether the defense was available was a threshold issue that must be determined before the Board or a court can consider the merits of the defense. View "Sultan Corporation v. Department of Environmental Protection" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court affirming the decision of the Department of Marine Resources (DMR) to grant an aquaculture lease to Mere Point Oyster Company, LLC (MPOC) in Maquoit Bay, holding that there was no error or abuse of discretion.MPOC applied for a ten-year aquaculture lease for a site in Marquoit Bay located near the shorefront property of Maquoit Bay, LLC and its sole members, Paul and Kathleen Dioli (collectively, the Diolis). DMR approved the application. Thereafter, the Diolis filed a Me. R. Civ. P. 80C petition requesting review of DMR's decision. The superior court affirmed. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) DMR did not err by approving the lease application without requiring MPOC to consider practicable alternatives; (2) DMR did not err by balancing the interests of MPOC and the public pursuant to Me. Rev. Stat. 6072's express requirements; and (3) the Diolis were not entitled to relief on any of their remaining allegations of error. View "Maquoit Bay LLC v. Department of Marine Resources" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the order entered by the superior court affirming the decision of the Town of Old Orchard Beach to deny Appellant's application to build a greenhouse in the front yard of her residential property, holding that Appellant was not prevented from building a greenhouse in her front yard.The Town's code enforcement officer denied Appellant's application because "an accessory structure cannot be located in the front yard." The Town's Zoning Board of Appeals upheld the denial, concluding that a particular provision of the Town's Zoning Ordinance prohibited Appellant from building the structure in her front yard. The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the order below, holding that the provision at issue did not prevent Appellant from building a greenhouse in her front yard. View "Zappia v. Town of Old Orchard Beach" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the district court in favor of Quang Pham on Atlantic Home Solutions, Inc.'s claim for recovery of personal property pursuant to Me. Rev. Stat. 14, 7071, holding that there was no error.Atlantic sought a judgment and writ of possession authorizing it to take possession of a modular home, the appliances, and the heating unit by removing them from Pham's property. The trial court issued judgment in favor of Pham, concluding that the modular home and other items no longer constituted personal property because they had become part of Pham's real estate. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that the trial court did not misapply the law, and its findings were supported by the record evidence. View "Atlantic Home Solutions, Inc. v. Pham" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed in part the judgment entered in the Business and Consumer Docket (BCD) awarding attorney fees and expenses to Forney & Weygandt, Inc. (F&W) but vacated a portion of the judgment awarding F&W attorney fees and expenses related to subcontractor claims, holding that remand was required.Lewiston DMEP IX, LLC, et al. (collectively, GBT), a group of limited purpose entities and a commercial real estate developer, appealed the attorney fees and expenses award to F&W, a commercial general contractor, pursuant to Maine's prompt payment statute, Me. Rev. Stat. 10, 1111-1120. Specifically, GBT contended that the BCD erred in awarding attorney fees and expenses that were not incurred in direct pursuit of F&W's prompt payment claims, including those related to F&W's contract claims, GBT's counterclaims and affirmative defenses, and subcontractor claims against F&W. The Supreme Judicial Court largely affirmed the judgment but vacated the award of attorney fees and expenses related to the subcontractor claims, holding that the court abused its discretion when it did not articulate a basis for an award of fees that would be proper under the prompt payment statute and this Court's interpretative case law. View "Fortney & Weygandt, Inc. v. Lewiston DMEP IX, LLC" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the superior court's order concluding that because Jackson Lumber & Millwork Co. was both the mortgagee and the purchaser at the public sale of certain foreclosed property the fair market value of that property as established by an independent appraisal - rather than the value established by the highest bid at the public sale - was appropriate to determine the amount of any deficiency, holding that the superior court did not err.In ruling on Jackson Lumber's motion for approval of attachment and trustee process, the superior court concluded that Jackson Lumber was the "purchaser at the public sale" and that there was no recoverable deficiency given that the appraised value of the property exceeded the amount owed at the time of the foreclosure. At issue was whether Jackson Lumber was the "purchaser at the public sale" even though it did not ultimately acquire the property because it later assigned away its rights and never received the deed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the superior court did not misinterpret the law or otherwise err or abuse its discretion in denying the motion for approval of attachment and trustee process as to the property. View "Jackson Lumber & Millwork Co. v. Rockwell Homes, LLC" on Justia Law