Articles Posted in Maine Supreme Judicial Court

by
The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the district court finding Brian Beaulieu Jr. liable to Greg and Victoria Goodwill for having made fraudulent and negligent misrepresentations about certain amenities in a house that he sold to them and awarding damages. On appeal, Beaulieu asserted that, pursuant to Me. Rev. Stat. 14, 163, he was entitled to a setoff against the amount of damages he was ordered to pay based on the Goodwills’ settlement with the real estate agency that listed his house. The Supreme Judicial Court disagreed, holding that the district court did not err by declining to reduce the damage award by the amount of the settlement between the Goodwills and the real estate agency that listed Beaulieu’s house because Beaulieu was not entitled to the setoff as a matter of law. View "Goodwill v. Beaulieu" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court declaring the ownership of and easement rights to certain property on Plaintiff’s complaint against Defendants. Plaintiff sought a declaratory judgment that he owned title to certain lakefront property and that any easement rights Defendants once may have had to that property had been extinguished. The superior court concluded that, except for a limited area where a structure had been built, Defendants’ express easement to the property had not been extinguished where Plaintiff failed to prove Defendants’ abandonment of the easement and where Plaintiff failed to establish that he possessed the easement “under a claim of right.” The Supreme Judicial Court agreed with the lower court, holding that Defendants’ express easement to the property had not been extinguished either by abandonment or by adverse possession. View "Dupuis v. Ellingwood" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed a judgment entered in the district court ordering Plaintiff to pay Defendant’s legal fees and costs after dismissal of Plaintiff’s foreclosure action against Defendant with prejudice. The court held (1) the district court did not err when it concluded that it had the authority to award Defendant attorney fees and costs pursuant to Me. Rev. Stat. 14, 6101, and Plaintiff did not preserve for appeal its argument that it was not “the mortgagee” according to section 6101 and therefore that the statute could not apply; and (2) the court did not abuse its discretion in setting the amount of fees owed and by including in the attorney fees award fees Defendant incurred pursuing an appeal. View "Homeward Residential, Inc. v. Gregor" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment of the district court dismissing Plaintiff’s fraudulent transfer complaint as having been filed outside the applicable statute of limitations, holding that the court should have treated the motion to dismiss as a motion for summary judgment. Plaintiff brought a complaint against Defendants alleging violations of the Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act. Defendants moved to dismiss the complaint on the ground that the applicable six-year statute of limitations ran one day before the date that Plaintiff’s complaint was filed. The district court granted the motion to dismiss. The Supreme Judicial Court held that Plaintiff’s submission of extrinsic evidence converted the motion to dismiss to a motion for summary judgment, and accordingly, the court erred in failing to proceed with the summary judgment process. View "Acadia Resources, Inc. v. VMS, LLC" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court affirming a decision of the Town of North Haven Board of Appeals that upheld a permit issued by the Town of North Haven Planning Board to Nebo Lodge, Inc. and Nebo Real Estate, LLC. The court held (1) the North Haven Board of Appeals (BOA) did not err in interpreting various provisions in North Haven’s ordinance; and (2) the permit review process did not violate the due process rights of Steven Wolfram, who opposed the applications, because there was a dearth of evidence that the BOA decision was the product of bias or procedural unfairness. View "Wolfram v. Town of North Haven" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court affirming the Town of Kittery Planning Board’s approval of a site plan application for development of a hotel on Route 1. The court held (1) the Board’s finding that a pitched roof for the building was not practicable was supported by substantial evidence, and the Board was authorized to approve a flat-roof design under the circumstances; (2) regarding the height of the building, the Board did not err in its application of the zoning ordinance’s height restrictions; and (3) the Board’s decision regarding the roof design and building height did not amount to a variance. View "Balano v. Town of Kittery" on Justia Law

by
Wells Fargo appealed from the district court’s judgment dismissing its foreclosure complaint against Defendant as a sanction for pretrial misconduct. After a nontestimonial hearing, the court ordered the action dismissed with prejudice. Wells Fargo moved to alter or amend the judgment to provide for a dismissal without prejudice. The district court denied the motion and maintained the dismissal with prejudice. The Supreme Judicial Court remanded the case to the district court to conduct a proceeding that comports with the process recently articulated in Green Tree Servicing, LLC v. Cope, ___ A.3d ___, issued on April 11, 2017, holding that the process used by the trial court did not entirely follow the procedural steps that a court should take before imposing the sanction of dismissal with prejudice. View "Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. v. Welch-Gallant" on Justia Law

by
The superior court determined that Appellants were liable for certain charges beyond undisputed amounts of principal and interest owed pursuant to a promissory note owned by Appellee. The note had been secured by a mortgage but an assignment failed to convey to Appellee all of the rights created by the mortgage. “[T]o avoid unjust enrichment,” the judgment allowed Appellee to retain the entire disputed amount. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment in part because the trial court did not sufficiently distinguish which charges were obligations pursuant to the note and which charges were obligations only pursuant to the invalid mortgage. The court remanded the case for a determination of what amount, if any, Appellee may retain pursuant to the note. View "Knope v. Green Tree Servicing, LLC" on Justia Law

by
Green Tree Servicing, LLC filed a complaint against Thelma Cope to foreclose on her residential property. Green Tree later moved to dismiss its foreclosure complaint without prejudice on the grounds that it lacked standing to proceed with the action. The superior court denied Green Tree’s motion to dismiss the complaint without prejudice and instead dismissed the complaint with prejudice as a sanction for Green Tree’s pretrial conduct. Upon reconsideration, the court concluded that it did not have the authority to impose a dismissal with prejudice because Green Tree did not have standing to bring the foreclosure complaint in the first place. The court then entered an amended order that dismissed the action without prejudice. The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment, holding that a trial court has the discretion to dismiss a foreclosure complaint with prejudice as a sanction even when the plaintiff lacks standing. Remanded. View "Green Tree Servicing, LLC v. Cope" on Justia Law

by
These consolidated appeals concerned two superior court judgments addressing issues on abutting properties - Mary’s Store and the Bus Lot - that Appellant owned in Kittery. Appellant appealed from a judgment finding him in contempt for violating a procedural order for failure to remove a burnt bus from the Mary’s Store property and challenged the court’s affirmance of the Kittery Town Council’s finding that the Mary’s Store structure constitutes a dangerous building pursuant to Me. Rev. Stat. 17, 2851 and ordering that it be demolished. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed both judgments, holding (1) the trial court did not abuse its discretion or clearly err in finding Appellant in contempt for violating the procedural order; and (2) the Town Council’s decision that the Mary’s Store building was dangerous was supported by substantial evidence, and the Town council’s order to demolish the building was not an abuse of discretion. View "Town of Kittery v. Dineen" on Justia Law