Articles Posted in Civil Procedure

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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

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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

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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

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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