Justia Maine Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the summary judgment entered by the superior court in favor of the University of Maine System on Plaintiff's claim of negligence based on an injury he sustained from an industrial kitchen mixer, holding that the University was immune from suit.The superior court granted summary judgment in favor of the University, concluding that the University was immune under the Maine Tort Claims Act (MTCA), 14 Me. Rev. Stat. 8104-A(1)(G), because the alleged negligent act did not fall within the MTCA's exception for negligence set forth in Me. Rev. Stat. 14, 8104-A(1)(G). The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that the mixer did not fall within the "[o]ther machinery or equipment" exception to immunity under the MTCA. View "Badler v. University of Maine System" on Justia Law

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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

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the interlocutory order of the district court allowing discovery in a protection from abuse action instituted by Pat Doe against Sam Roe and denying in part Doe's request for a discovery protective order pursuant to Me. R. Civ. P. 26(c), holding that there was no error.Specifically, the Supreme Judicial Court held (1) while discovery is not prohibited in protection from abuse proceedings, when it is appropriate or necessary discovery must take place within strict parameters; and (2) the trial court did not abuse its discretion in determining that Roe had met his burden of showing that justice required discovery on thirteen of his interrogatories. View "Doe v. Roe" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law
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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed in part and remanded in part a judgment awarding parental rights and responsibilities entered in the district court as to Father's four children with Mother, holding that the court's judgment failed to include a required statement.The judgment in this case granted Mother sole parental rights and responsibilities and primary physical residence and denied Father rights of parent-child contact. The Supreme Court held (1) the court did not abuse its discretion in denying Father rights of parent-child contact, and any other error was harmless; and (2) the court's judgment failed to include a required statement governing parental access to records relating to the children. The Supreme Judicial Court remanded the matter for the district court to amend the order. View "Mayberry v. Janosky" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law
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The Supreme Judicial Court vacated in part the summary judgment granted in favor of the Maine Tax Assessor entered in the business and consumer docket ruling that TracFone Wireless, Inc.'s Lifeline service was subject to the State of Maine's prepaid wireless fee and service provider tax, holding that summary judgment was improper as to the prepaid wireless fee.On appeal, TracFone also challenged the trial court's denial of its motion to compel the production of documents related to taxpayers similarly situated to TracFone. The Supreme Judicial Court (1) vacated the summary judgment as to the prepaid wireless fee, holding that the lower court erred in concluding that the Lifeline service was "paid for in advance"; (2) affirmed the summary judgment as to the service provider tax because TracFone sold its Lifeline service under Me. Rev. Stat. 36, 2552; and (3) affirmed the order denying TracFone's motion to compel the production of documents. View "State Tax Assessor v. Tracfone Wireless, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Tax Law
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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the decision of the superior court denying the Town of Wells's motion for summary judgment in the underlying personal injury suit, holding that the plain language of the Maine Tort Claims Act (MTCA), Me. Rev. Stat. 14, 8101-8118, does not limit the waiver of immunity of governmental entities "for an employee's negligent operation of [a] motor vehicle resulting in a collision."Plaintiffs filed a complaint alleging that the Town's police officers initiated a dangerous high-speed chase that they negligently failed to terminate, directly and proximately causing their injuries. In denying the Town's motion for summary judgment, the superior court concluded that Me. Rev. Stat. 14 8104-B(3), which provides governmental entities immunity for discretionary functions, does not require that a government vehicle be directly involved in a collision for the exception to governmental immunity to apply. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that the court correctly determined that the Town was not entitled to the entry of summary judgment. View "Convery v. Town of Wells" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury
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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment entered by the district court extending a weapons restriction placed on J because J presented a likelihood of foreseeable harm, holding that there was no error in the proceedings below.While J was in protective custody for threatening behavior a doctor concluded that J was a mentally ill person within the meaning of Me. Rev. Stat. 34-B, 3801(5) and that he posed a likelihood of foreseeable harm within the meaning of Me. Rev. Stat. 34-B, 3862-A. The court subsequently prohibited J from possessing dangerous weapons pending a judicial hearing. After a hearing, the court entered a written order extending the restriction for one year. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) section 3862-A neither violates Me. Const. art. I, 16, nor is it unconstitutionally vague; (2) the extension of the weapons restriction was supported by competent evidence; and (3) the prosecutor did not commit misconduct during closing arguments. View "In re Weapons Restriction of J." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the district court determining that a settlement agreement signed by the parties constituted a binding contract and granting Plaintiff's motion to enforce the agreement, holding that issues of fact regarding the formation of the settlement agreement existed.Plaintiff bought this complaint against Defendant for unjust enrichment and partition of real estate. Plaintiff filed with the court a settlement agreement, signed by both parties, stating that the parties were previously in a personal and business relationship and seeking to resolve all issues arising from that relationship. Plaintiff then filed a motion to enforce that agreement and a declaration that the agreement was valid. The court approved the settlement agreement and entered judgment for Plaintiff. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) if a party raises a factual issue that goes to the validity of a settlement agreement’s formation, an evidentiary hearing will generally be necessary on a motion to enforce the settlement, even if the written agreement otherwise appears to be a fully integrated contract; and (2) because no such hearing was held in this case the judgment must be vacated. View "Doe v. Lozano" on Justia Law

Posted in: Contracts
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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the order entered by the district court dismissing Grandmother's petition for grandparent visitation for lack of standing, holding that there was no error.Grandmother petitioned against Mother and Father for visitation rights with the three children at issue in this case under the Grandparents and Great-grandparents Visitation Act, Me. Rev. Stat. 19-A, 1801-1806. The district court dismissed the petition for lack of standing, concluding that Grandmother did not prove that she had a sufficient existing relationship with the children. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that the court applied the correct standard of proof and that the record did not compel the court to make factual findings in Grandmother's favor. View "Fiske v. Fiske" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law
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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed Defendant's conviction for operating under the influence, entered after a jury trial, holding that Defendant was not entitled to relief on her allegations of error.After a trial, a jury found Defendant guilty of operating under the influence and of having a blood-alcohol level of .15 grams or more per 210 liters of breath at the time of the offense. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that the trial court (1) did not err in denying Defendant's challenge for cause to a prospective juror based on implied bias; and (2) did not violate Defendant's constitutional rights by factoring into her sentence the court's view that her testimony was untruthful without making perjury findings. View "State v. Hemminger" on Justia Law