Articles Posted in Real Estate & Property 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

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court concluding that the second foreclosure action filed by the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) against Patricia and Paul Deschaine was barred as a matter of law by the judgment dismissing with prejudice Fannie Mae’s earlier foreclosure action against the Deschaines. The first foreclosure action was dismissed with prejudice because the parties failed to comply with the court’s pretrial order. The judgment later became final. The next year, Fannie Mae filed its second complaint for foreclosure involving the same property and based on the same note and mortgage. The superior court granted the Deschaines’ motion for summary judgment on the complaint. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that this second foreclosure claim was precluded by principles of res judicata. View "Federal National Mortgage Association v. Deschaine" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment of the superior court affirming the Cape Elizabeth Code Enforcement Officer’s (CEO) issuance of a building permit, holding that the CEO’s decision granting the permit lacked sufficient factual findings to permit meaningful review. The owner of property abutting the property at issue appealed the CEO’s grant of the building permit to the Town Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA). The ZBA affirmed the CEO’s decision. The superior court affirmed. The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the superior court’s judgment and remanded the matter, holding that the COE’s grant of the building permit was the operative decision and that decision lacked sufficient factual findings to permit meaningful appellate review. View "Appletree Cottage, LLC v. Town of Cape Elizabeth" on Justia Law

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Rowland Whittet appealed from a superior court judgment granting a permanent injunction and authorizing a special master to proceed with the sale of a parcel of real estate. In this appeal, Daniel Whittet filed a motion for sanctions. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment and imposed a sanction of attorney fees and treble costs, holding (1) Rowland failed to provide transcripts of relevant proceedings to allow for adequate appellate review and made no argument as to why the court erred; and (2) Rowland asserted meritless claims and arguments that have been rejected and effectively delayed enforcement of a previous judgment and wasted time and resources. View "Whittet v. Whittet" on Justia Law

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RIHC, a Maine nonprofit entity, owns Roque Island, 1,242 acres of land, with five houses and numerous outbuildings. Roque Island is a homestead that has been owned by the same family since the early 1800s. In 2010, Jonesport hired a certified private assessor for revaluation of all town properties. The assessor used state-approved assessment software. Its calculations include the character of the neighborhood so that values for island properties are calculated at a lower rate because they are not benefitted by certain services that mainland properties receive. Building values on islands are subject to an “economic obsolescence factor” of 200%, resulting in a greater assessed value than for a comparable mainland structures because of the additional cost of building on an island. Due to an oversight, the economic obsolescence factor originating with the 2010 revaluation was not fully applied to the Island structures until the 2014 tax year, when their total valuation increased by 52% from the previous year. RIHC sought an abatement of $1,305,150 from the 2014 building valuation assessment of $2,609,846, which would result in a property tax reduction of $20,000. That application was constructively denied. The Board of Appeals also denied RIHC’s application, concluding that RIHC’s buildings were being taxed consistently with buildings on islands in other towns. The lower court and the Maine Supreme Judicial Court affirmed; the record does not compel the conclusion that the rate differentiation is unjustly discriminatory. View "Roque Island Gardner Homestead Corp. v. Town of Jonesport" 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