Articles Posted in Real Estate & Property Law

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At issue was whether, when the defendant has caused a physical invasion of the plaintiff’s property, the plaintiff must present evidence of a specific diminution in market value in order to successfully prove nuisance. An oil tanker owned and operated by Defendant overturned, resulting in more than 9,000 gallons of oil and kerosene spilled from the tanker and onto property belonging to Plaintiffs. The superior court entered judgment upon a jury verdict awarding Plaintiffs compensatory damages in the amount of $490,000 on Plaintiffs’ claim of nuisance. On appeal, Defendant argued that the trial court erred when it denied Defendant’s motions for judgment as a matter of law on the nuisance claim because Plaintiffs did not present any evidence of a specific diminution in market value of their land due to the spill. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) Plaintiffs in this case did not need to show a specific depreciation in the market or rental value of the land, and therefore, the trial court did not err when it denied Defendant’s motions for judgment as a matter of law on the nuisance claim; and (2) the trial court did not err when it allowed Plaintiffs to introduce evidence of the conduct of Defendant’s insurer at trial. View "West v. Jewett & Noonan Transportation, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the determination of the superior court that Plaintiffs’ Me. R. Civ. P. 80B petition was moot, vacated the declaratory judgment entered by the court, and remanded for dismissal of the complaint in its entirety. At issue was the decision of the Town of Brunswick to sell certain property. Brunswick residents began initiative proceedings to enact an ordinance that would require the Town to retain the parcel for public use. After the requisite number of signatures were obtained, the town council decided to take no further action on the petition. Plaintiffs filed a Rule 80B petition for review of the council’s decision and sought a declaration that the town charter permits voters to enact, by initiative, an ordinance that would overturn the council’s decision to sell the property. The superior court concluded that the Town erred in declining to hold a public hearing on the proposed ordinance but determined that the issue had been rendered moot by the sale of property. The court then entered a declaratory judgment that the voters could not override the council's vote to sell the property. The Supreme Judicial Court held that the lower court correctly determined the Rule 80B petition to be moot and should have done the same regarding the declaratory judgment action. View "Brunswick Citizens for Collaborative Government v. Town of Brunswick" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment of foreclosure entered by the superior court in favor of Deutsche Bank National Trust Company, holding that the superior court abused its discretion by admitting into evidence a copy of a notice of default that contained an assertion that it was sent by mail. In answer to a complaint for foreclosure filed by Deutsche Bank, Jesse and Naomi Eddins asserted that the Bank failed to comply with the notice provisions of Me. Rev. Stat. 14, 6111. The matter proceeded to trial. On appeal, the Supreme Judicial Court remanded the matter for entry of judgment for the Eddinses, holding that Deutsche Bank presented no competent evidence that a notice of default was sent to Jesse or that any such notice met the requirements of either section 6111 or the mortgage instrument itself. Therefore, the Bank failed as a matter of law to prove a necessary element of its foreclosure claim, and the Eddinses were entitled to judgment. View "Deutsche Bank National Trust Company v. Eddins" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment of foreclosure entered by the superior court in favor of Deutsche Bank National Trust Company, holding that the superior court abused its discretion by admitting into evidence a copy of a notice of default that contained an assertion that it was sent by mail. In answer to a complaint for foreclosure filed by Deutsche Bank, Jesse and Naomi Eddins asserted that the Bank failed to comply with the notice provisions of Me. Rev. Stat. 14, 6111. The matter proceeded to trial. On appeal, the Supreme Judicial Court remanded the matter for entry of judgment for the Eddinses, holding that Deutsche Bank presented no competent evidence that a notice of default was sent to Jesse or that any such notice met the requirements of either section 6111 or the mortgage instrument itself. Therefore, the Bank failed as a matter of law to prove a necessary element of its foreclosure claim, and the Eddinses were entitled to judgment. View "Deutsche Bank National Trust Company v. Eddins" on Justia Law

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The Town of Steuben’s taking of an interest in Rogers Point Road by eminent domain pursuant to Me. Rev. Stat. 23, 3023 was constitutional because it arose from a public exigency and was for public use. Bayberry Cove Children’s Land Trust filed a complaint challenging the Town’s determinations that the taking of an interest in the road was supported by a public exigency and that the use of the road was public. The superior court affirmed the Town’s decision. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) there was a rational basis in the record to support the Town’s finding of a public exigency; (2) evidence in the record, confirmed by the Trust’s characterization of the public’s right to use the road, definitively established that the interest in the road was taken for a public use; and (3) therefore, the taking was constitutional. View "Bayberry Cove Children's Land Trust v. Town of Steuben" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the district court in favor of Defendants on Bank’s complaint for a residential foreclosure, thus rejecting Bank’s allegations of error. On appeal, Bank argued that the district court erred in denying Bank’s motion to continue the trial and erred in determining that Bank did not lay a proper foundation for admitting loan servicing records pursuant to the business records exception to the hearsay rule. The Supreme Judicial Court disagreed, holding (1) Bank did not lay a proper foundation for admitting the loan servicing records at issue pursuant to the business records exception; and (2) the district court did not abuse its discretion by denying Bank’s motion for a continuance because Bank did not establish a substantial reason as to why a continuance would further the interests of justice. View "Keybank National Ass’n v. Estate of Eula W. Quint" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court affirming, pursuant to Me. R. Civ. P. 80B, the Town of Wiscasset Planning Board’s approval of Allen and Melissa Cohen’s application to expand a building used for the Cohens’ business and dismissed the appeal of the judgments entered for the Town on Kathleen and Thomas Bryant’s independent claims. After the Planning Board approved the Cohens’ site plan review application, the Bryants appealed. The Board of Appeals denied the Bryants’ appeal. The Bryants appealed the Planning Board’s decision to the superior court pursuant to Rule 80B. They also brought three independent claims - two separate counts alleging that the Town had violated their due process rights by denying them notice and an opportunity to be heard and a third count seeking declaratory relief. The superior court affirmed the Planning Board’s decision on the Braynts’ Rule 80B appeal, entered judgments for the Town on the violation of due process claims, and dismissed the count seeking declaratory relief for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The Supreme Judicial Court (1) affirmed with respect to the Rule 80B appeal, holding that the Planning Board did not err in approving the Cohens’ application; and (2) dismissed as moot the appeals with respect to the judgments on the independent claims. View "Bryant v. Town of Wiscasset" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the business and consumer docket awarding Plaintiff $66,866 in damages in this action alleging that Plaintiff’s property had been damaged by Emera Maine agents while they rebuilt an electrical transmission line and that Emera had not sufficiently repaired the damage. Plaintiff filed his claims against Emera and its contractor, Hawkeye, LLC, and sought several million dollars in damages. After the trial court entered its judgment, Plaintiff appealed and Emera and Hawkeye cross-appealed. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment as modified, holding (1) the trial court’s findings were not clearly erroneous; (2) the trial court did not err when it determined that Hawkeye did not trespass within the meaning of Me. Rev. Stat. 14, 7551-B; and (3) the court by applying the new version of Me. Rev. Stat. 14, 7552(5) in awarding $20,000 in attorney fees to McLaughlin, and the court’s judgment is hereby modified by reducing the award of attorney fees to $1,433. View "McLaughlin v. Emera Maine" on Justia Law

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In this appeal arising from a foreclosure action, the Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment in favor of Bank on Plaintiffs’ claim for declaratory relief and remanded the case for entry of summary judgment in favor of Plaintiffs on that claim. Plaintiffs filed claims against Bank for declaratory and injunctive relief, slander of title, and damages pursuant to Me. Rev. Stat. 33, 551. The business and consumer docket entered judgment in favor of Bank. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed in part and vacated in part, holding (1) Plaintiffs’ claims presented a justiciable controversy; (2) the trial court did not err by granting Bank’s motion for summary judgment on Plaintiffs’ section 551 claim or slander-of-title claim; but (3) Plaintiffs were entitled, as a matter of law, to the declaratory relief they sought. View "Pushard v. Bank of America N.A." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment of the superior court affirming a decision of the Cape Elizabeth Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA), which determined that the Cape Elizabeth Code Enforcement Officer (CEO) had properly issued a building permit to Cunner Lane LLC. An abutting property owner appealed. The court remanded the case for the CEO to deny the application, holding that there was no competent evidence in the record showing that Cunner Lane LLC’s permit application met the requirements of Cape Elizabeth, Me. Zoning Ordinance 19-7-9(A)(2). View "Fissmer v. Town of Cape Elizabeth" on Justia Law