Articles Posted in Civil Procedure

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The Supreme Judicial Court dismissed Defendant’s appeal from a judgment of the district court adopting the order of a family law magistrate granting Mother’s motion to modify a child support order included in the divorce judgment between Burdin and Anthony Kline. The child support order did not order Kline to pay child support. Burdin later filed a motion to modify the child support provisions of the divorce judgment, seeking an order requiring Kline to pay child support calculated pursuant to the child support guidelines. A magistrate granted Burdin’s motion. Kline appealed. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal and remanded the case because there is no right of direct appeal from a magistrate’s order. On remand, the district court treated Kline’s appeal as a Me. R. Civ. P. 118(a) objection to the magistrate’s order and adopted that order as the court’s judgment pursuant to Rule 118(a)(2). Kline appealed from the court’s adoption of the magistrate’s order. The Supreme Judicial Court dismissed the appeal because Kline failed to file a timely objection to the magistrate’s order as required by Rule 118, therefore waiving both his right to contest it in district court and to appeal. View "Kline v. Burdin" on Justia Law

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Father lived the child and her mother, outside of Maine, until 2008, when the child was about six months old. After that time, he maintained regular contact with the child, who resided primarily in New York, but was never her primary caregiver. In 2016 Mother moved to Maine with the child. Father, who is incarcerated in Massachusetts, did not oppose the move. While he was incarcerated the child asked a neighbor for help and the Maine Department of Health and Human Services commenced a child protection proceeding. Father made no effort to take responsibility. The Department obtained a preliminary protection order, 22 M.R.S. 4032-4036, and placed the child in foster care after hospitalization for psychiatric care. Father was served with notice and provided with appointed counsel, who moved to dismiss the petition for lack of personal jurisdiction because Father is not a Maine resident, has never traveled to Maine,and otherwise lacked sufficient minimum contacts with Maine. The Maine Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the court’s rejection of that motion. The court was not required to have jurisdiction over Father to have authority to issue a jeopardy order to protect the child. View "In re Emma B." on Justia Law

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Parents Theresa Allocca and Timothy Allen Davison, filed this action in their individual capacities, and Davison also filed as personal representative of the Estate of Timothy "Asti" Davison. Asti was fatally shot while operating a vehicle that an assailant, operating another vehicle, had forced onto a median on an interstate highway. The Parents sought uninsured motorist (UM) benefits based on several automobile insurance policies issued by defendants York Insurance Company of Maine, Allstate Insurance Company, and Horace Mann Teachers Insurance Company. The Superior Court granted summary judgment in favor of the insurers, concluding that neither any of the policies nor Maine’s UM statute provided coverage for the loss associated with Asti’s death. The Maine Supreme Court affirmed: "[a]lthough the conduct of the person who killed Asti was indisputably deliberate and not accidental, there is no evidence in the record that it was foreseeable to Asti himself, and so, based on that approach, his death would be viewed as 'accidental.' ... describing an intentional act, such as an intentional killing, as an 'accident' stretches the plain meaning of that word too far." Without addressing the superior court’s conclusion that the UM coverage in the policies was not applicable because the loss did not arise from the "use" of a motor vehicle, the Supreme Court concluded as a matter of law that Asti’s death was not caused by an "accident." View "Allocca. v. York Insurance Company of Maine" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court dismissing Plaintiffs’ constitutional and statutory claims against the Commissioner of the Department of Health and Human Services and two Department employees. Plaintiffs alleged the same facts in an earlier action filed in federal court arising out of the same allegedly wrongful acts. The federal court dismissed all claims against the Commission for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted and dismissed the claims against one of the employees for Plaintiffs’ failure timely to serve her. Approximately one year later, Plaintiffs filed this action. The superior court dismissed all of Plaintiffs’ claims, concluding that the claims against all three defendants were barred by the claim preclusion component of the doctrine of res judicata. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that the superior court did not err by dismissing Plaintiffs’ claims against the two employees on claim preclusion grounds because the employees had a sufficiently close relationship to the Commissioner to satisfy the requirement of claim preclusion of “sufficient identically between the parties in the two actions.” View "Estate of Paul F. Treworgy v. Commissioner, Department of Health & Human Services" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment of the trial court denying Appellant’s petition for postconviction relief on the grounds of ineffective assistance of counsel. Appellant was found guilty of gross sexual assault, assault, and tampering with a victim. The Supreme Court affirmed on appeal. Appellant then filed a petition for postconviction review, arguing in part that he was deprived of the effective assistance of trial counsel because trial counsel opened the door to damaging evidence or failed to object to certain testimony elicited on cross-examination. The trial court denied the petition. The Supreme Judicial Court remanded the matter, holding that, contrary to the trial court’s conclusion, Appellant did not waive his challenge to counsel’s effectiveness in responding to the testimony of a specific witness at trial. View "Salley v. State" on Justia Law

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In 2004, Michael Bailey began to receive partial incapacity benefits stemming from a workplace injury. In 2007, a hearing officer found that Bailey had reached maximum medical improvement (MMI) and that he had sustained an injury that resulted in a permanent impairment level of thirty-two percent. In 2013, the City of Lewiston filed a petition seeking review of the level of Bailey’s incapacity and a petition seeking to determine the extent of his permanent impairment. The hearing officer concluded that there was a change of circumstances warranting a new permanent impairment finding and reduced Bailey’s permanent impairment level to zero percent. The decree thus terminated Bailey’s entitlement to further compensation. The Workers’ Compensation Board Appellate Division vacated the hearing officer’s decree, ruling that the 2007 determination of permanent impairment as of the date of MMI was final, and therefore, the doctrine of res judicata barred relitigation of that issue. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Appellate Division did not err in concluding that relitigation of Bailey’s permanent impairment level was barred by res judicata principles. View "Bailey v. City of Lewiston" on Justia Law

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Hall filed a foreclosure claim against Camden Hills on two sets of notes and mortgages on Camden residential property. By a May 2014 judgment, the Knox County Superior Court denied Hall’s claim, concluding that Hall had not given Camden Hills sufficient notice of right to cure, 14 M.R.S. 6111. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed. In 2014, Hall filed a second foreclosure complaint in the District Court (Rockland). Camden Hills filed an answer denying the substantive allegations of default and asserting res judicata. Hall sought summary judgment. Camden Hills did not file a timely opposition or objection. Camden’s subsequent motion to dismiss alleged that the first foreclosure action was decided by a final judgment involving the same parties and the same cause of action. The court denied Camden Hills’s motion to dismiss and granted Hall summary judgment. The Supreme Judicial Court dismissed Camden Hills’s appeal without reaching the merits because Camden Hills failed to comply with M.R. App. P. 8, addressing organization and the order in which documents are to appear in the appendix to the briefs. View "Hall v. Camden Hills Farm by the Sea, LLC" on Justia Law

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The court terminated mother’s parental rights, 22 M.R.S. 4055(1)(A),(B), finding that she is unfit to parent the children because she has abandoned them, she is unwilling and unable to protect them from jeopardy and these circumstances are unlikely to change within a time reasonably calculated to meet their needs, and she has failed to make a good faith effort to rehabilitate and reunify with them. The court also terminated the parental rights of the father of each child. Mother did not challenge the findings relating to termination of her rights but claimed that the children’s current placement, with their maternal grandparents, is unsafe, and that permanent placement there would not be in the children’s best interests. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, noting that the best interests determination in connection with the termination of mother’s parental rights was not a determination of who will adopt the children or that any particular placement is in their best interests. To the extent that mother seeks to challenge the court’s order identifying adoption as the permanency plan, 22 M.R.S. 4038-B(3), that order is interlocutory and not appealable. View "In re: Dominic B." on Justia Law

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Certain property owners in the vicinity of a proposed lease site (“the Neighbors”) brought a Me. R. Civ. P. 80C appeal from a judgment of the superior court that affirmed in part and vacated in part a decision of the Department of Marine resources granting Joseph Porada a limited purpose aquaculture lease to farm oysters and quahogs in Morgan Bay in Surry. The superior court vacated the decision insofar as it granted Porada a lease covering four acres and remanded the matter to the Department to reduce the area of the site from four to two acres. The superior court also dismissed as duplicative several independent claims for declaratory relief brought with the appeal. The Supreme Judicial Court dismissed the appeal, holding that the judgment was not final. View "Estate of Jack R. Pirozzolo v. Department of Marine Resources" on Justia Law

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The district court did not err in finding that Portfolio Recovery Associates, LLC (PRA) had met its burden of proof and by admitting PRA’s exhibits into evidence. The district court entered judgment in a small claims proceeding finding Max Bickford liable on debt that PRA had purchased from a prior creditor. The superior court affirmed. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not err by finding that PRA had met its burden of proof to establish its ownership of Bickford’s debt; and (2) the district court did not err by admitting PRA’s affidavits into evidence where the affidavits and other documents fell within the general grant of admissibility created in Maine Rules of Small Claims Procedure rule 6(b) and where none of that rule’s grounds for exclusion applied in this case. View "Portfolio Recovery Associates, LLC v. Bickford" on Justia Law