Articles Posted in Professional Malpractice & Ethics

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After Plaintiff was terminated from his employment from Bath Iron Works (BIW), Plaintiff grieved the termination. The Local S7 Union Grievance Committee voted not to arbitrate the grievance. Thereafter, represented by Attorney John R. Lemieux, Plaintiff filed a complaint against the Union and BIW, alleging breach of the collective bargaining agreement and discrimination. The magistrate judge issued a recommended decision granting a summary judgment in favor of BIW and the Union. The superior court affirmed the magistrate judge’s recommended decision, and the court of appeals affirmed. Plaintiff then filed this action against Lemieux, alleging legal malpractice, breach of fiduciary duty, and negligent infliction of emotional distress. The superior court granted summary judgment in favor of Lemieux, concluding that Plaintiff failed to put forth prima facie evidence of causation. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that summary judgment was proper because Plaintiff failed to put forth prima facie evidence of causation to support his claims. View "Brooks v. Lemieux" on Justia Law

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After a hearing, the State Board of Nursing found that John S. Zablotny had violated his professional duties and revoked his nursing license for two years. The district court affirmed. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment and remanded for further proceedings, concluding that the district court erred in conducting an appellate-type review. On remand, the district court concluded that Zablotny had engaged in activities that constituted professional misconduct but also concluded that the Board failed to prove other allegations of professional misconduct. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that the district court’s findings supported the conclusion that the court was not compelled, as a matter of law, to find that Zablotny violated Board rules or professional standards of care. View "Zablotny v. State Board of Nursing" on Justia Law

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Jon Haddow, an attorney, represented and Frank and Beverly Pawlendzio in personal bankruptcy proceedings. Following the proceedings, the Pawlendzios filed a complaint against Haddow, asserting claims of legal malpractice and seeking damages for economic loss and extreme emotional distress. The Pawlendzios based their claims on the fact that, contrary to Haddow’s advice, loans made to them by friends and relatives lost their protected status as a result of the bankruptcy proceedings. The superior court entered an order granting summary judgment in favor of Haddow. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that the Pawlendzios failed to produce expert-based evidence that Haddow breached his duty owed to the Pawlendzios. View "Pawlendzio v. Haddow" on Justia Law

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David Savell filed a complaint against Michael Duddy and the law firm of Kelly, Remmel & Zimmerman (KRZ) founded upon his assertion that an attorney-client relationship existed between himself and Duddy. Among other claims, Savell alleged claims for attorney malpractice and breach of fiduciary duty. The court granted Duddy and KRZ’s motion for summary judgment, concluding that Savell failed to demonstrate an attorney-client relationship between himself and Duddy. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) an attorney-client relationship did not exist between Savell and Duddy; and (2) Duddy did not owe Savell a duty of care as a nonclient. View "Savell v. Duddy" on Justia Law

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This case arose from the revocation of a building permit previously granted to R. Bruce Montgomery and Wanda Haddock (collectively, Montgomery). Montgomery, represented by Judy A.S. Metcalf and William V. Ferdinand Jr. (collectively, the Eaton Peabody attorneys), appealed the revocation of the permit, contesting the revocation of the part of the permit dealing with the construction of a garage. The Georgetown Planning Board left in place a stop-work order on the construction of the garage. Montgomery subsequently hired attorney Clifford H. Goodall to assist him in his attempts to apply for a building permit, without success. Montgomery filed a legal malpractice complaint against the Eaton Peabody attorneys. The superior court dismissed five of the six counts of the complaint. Montgomery subsequently filed a second amended complaint raising legal malpractice claims against Goodall. The superior court granted summary judgment in favor of Goodall. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that the superior court (1) properly granted the Eaton Peabody attorneys’ motion to dismiss counts one through five of Montgomery’s complaint; and (2) did not abuse its discretion in denying Montgomery’s motion to file a third amended complaint made three years after the commencement of the suit. View "Montgomery v. Eaton Peabody, LLP" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff was injured while working at a paper mill. Plaintiff hired Defendant, an attorney, to represent her in her workers’ compensation claim. The Workers’ Compensation Board awarded Plaintiff, still represented by Defendant, partial incapacity benefits. Plaintiff later settled with her employer. Plaintiff subsequently filed a complaint against Defendant, alleging that, due to Defendant’s failure to exercise due care and negligence, she was awarded partial incapacity benefits rather than total incapacity benefits. The superior court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendant. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that summary judgment was correctly granted where the jury could not assess damages without resorting to speculation. View "Allen v. McCann" on Justia Law

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Thomas Cabatit was survived by two sons, Jerediah and Joseph, who were given equal shares of Thomas’s Estate after his death. In his will, Thomas designated his sister, Julibel, as the personal representative of his Estate. Julibel subsequently retained Steven Canders and Maine Legal Associates, P.A. (collectively, MLA) to represent her in probate of the Estate. Jerediah and Joseph later filed a petition to surcharge Julibel and remove her as personal representative, alleging mismanagement of the Estate. The probate court removed Julibel and designated Joseph as the successor personal representative. Thereafter, Joseph, in his capacities as a beneficiary and as the personal representative of the Estate, sued MLA, alleging that MLA breached duties it owed to the Estate and to Joseph as a beneficiary by giving Julibel improper advice. The superior court granted summary judgment for MLA, concluding that the scope of the attorney-client relationship did not include a duty to the Estate. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) no attorney-client relationship existed between Joseph in his role as successor personal representative of the Estate and MLA; and (2) MLA did not owe a duty to Joseph as a nonclient. View "Estate of Cabatit v. Canders" on Justia Law

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Northern Maine Transport, LLC (NMT), a Maine limited liability company with only two members, including Paul Beaudry, was administratively dissolved in 2009. In 2012, Beaudry filed this action, individually and purportedly on behalf of NMT, against Alan Harding and Hardings Law Offices for professional negligence and breach of fiduciary duty in 2010 when Harding represented NMT and possibly Beaudry in facilitating a settlement with a third party. The superior court granted Harding’s motion for summary judgment, concluding (1) Beaudry lacked the legal capacity to bring suit on behalf of the administratively dissolved LLC or derivatively, and (2) Beaudry had no individual claim because he suffered no personal harm. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Maine law did not permit Beaudry to proceed on behalf of the administratively dissolved LLC under these circumstances, either through a derivative action or individually. View "Beaudry v. Harding" on Justia Law

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Appellant was terminated from his employment as a registered nurse at a community hospital after a patient under Appellant’s care departed from the hospital, unescorted, into blizzard-like conditions and died less than 500 feet from the hospital’s entrance. After a two-day disciplinary hearing, the State Board of Nursing found Appellant violated several statutes and Board rules and revoked Appellant’s professional nursing license for two years. Appellant subsequently filed a petition for de novo judicial review in the district court. The district court concluded that it would not rehear the evidence presented to the Board and, after finding “competent evidence” on the record to support the Board’s findings, affirmed the Board’s decision to revoke Appellant’s license. The Supreme Court vacated the district court’s judgment, holding that the court erred in its interpretation and application of “de novo judicial review.” Remanded. View "Zablotny v. State Bd. of Nursing" on Justia Law

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Clifford Lippitt was a certified geologist employed at S.W. Cole, Inc. Worcester Associates retained S.W. Cole to provide the necessary technical assistance in order to complete the closure of a landfill Worcester owned. After S.W. Cole drilled bedrock wells and collected data from them, Lippitt submitted a report presenting the results of the tests and concluding that there was no evidence the landfill was impacting neighboring residential wells. The Board of Certification for Geologists and Soil Scientists determined that Lippitt had violated the Code of Ethics applicable to geologists and soil scientists because he had provided a professional opinion “without being as thoroughly informed as might be reasonably expected.” The Supreme Court vacated the superior court’s judgment affirming the Board’s decision, holding (1) the Board’s disagreement with a geologist’s opinion, without a concurrent determination that the opinion is false, is based on false data, or reflects the geologist’s incompetence, cannot be the basis for a determination that the opinion constitutes a violation of the geologists’ Code of Ethics; and (2) the Board erred in determining that Lippitt violated the Code of Ethics on the grounds that Lippitt’s opinion was not “reasonable” in light of the underlying data.View "Lippitt v. Bd. of Certification for Geologists & Soil Scientists" on Justia Law