Articles Posted in Real Estate & Property Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed a judgment entered in the district court ordering Plaintiff to pay Defendant’s legal fees and costs after dismissal of Plaintiff’s foreclosure action against Defendant with prejudice. The court held (1) the district court did not err when it concluded that it had the authority to award Defendant attorney fees and costs pursuant to Me. Rev. Stat. 14, 6101, and Plaintiff did not preserve for appeal its argument that it was not “the mortgagee” according to section 6101 and therefore that the statute could not apply; and (2) the court did not abuse its discretion in setting the amount of fees owed and by including in the attorney fees award fees Defendant incurred pursuing an appeal. View "Homeward Residential, Inc. v. Gregor" 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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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court affirming a decision of the Town of North Haven Board of Appeals that upheld a permit issued by the Town of North Haven Planning Board to Nebo Lodge, Inc. and Nebo Real Estate, LLC. The court held (1) the North Haven Board of Appeals (BOA) did not err in interpreting various provisions in North Haven’s ordinance; and (2) the permit review process did not violate the due process rights of Steven Wolfram, who opposed the applications, because there was a dearth of evidence that the BOA decision was the product of bias or procedural unfairness. View "Wolfram v. Town of North Haven" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court affirming the Town of Kittery Planning Board’s approval of a site plan application for development of a hotel on Route 1. The court held (1) the Board’s finding that a pitched roof for the building was not practicable was supported by substantial evidence, and the Board was authorized to approve a flat-roof design under the circumstances; (2) regarding the height of the building, the Board did not err in its application of the zoning ordinance’s height restrictions; and (3) the Board’s decision regarding the roof design and building height did not amount to a variance. View "Balano v. Town of Kittery" 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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The superior court determined that Appellants were liable for certain charges beyond undisputed amounts of principal and interest owed pursuant to a promissory note owned by Appellee. The note had been secured by a mortgage but an assignment failed to convey to Appellee all of the rights created by the mortgage. “[T]o avoid unjust enrichment,” the judgment allowed Appellee to retain the entire disputed amount. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment in part because the trial court did not sufficiently distinguish which charges were obligations pursuant to the note and which charges were obligations only pursuant to the invalid mortgage. The court remanded the case for a determination of what amount, if any, Appellee may retain pursuant to the note. View "Knope v. Green Tree Servicing, LLC" 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

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These consolidated appeals concerned two superior court judgments addressing issues on abutting properties - Mary’s Store and the Bus Lot - that Appellant owned in Kittery. Appellant appealed from a judgment finding him in contempt for violating a procedural order for failure to remove a burnt bus from the Mary’s Store property and challenged the court’s affirmance of the Kittery Town Council’s finding that the Mary’s Store structure constitutes a dangerous building pursuant to Me. Rev. Stat. 17, 2851 and ordering that it be demolished. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed both judgments, holding (1) the trial court did not abuse its discretion or clearly err in finding Appellant in contempt for violating the procedural order; and (2) the Town Council’s decision that the Mary’s Store building was dangerous was supported by substantial evidence, and the Town council’s order to demolish the building was not an abuse of discretion. View "Town of Kittery v. Dineen" on Justia Law

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After acquiring a parcel of oceanfront property, Osprey Landing, LLC purchased a title insurance policy from First American Title Insurance Company. In connection with litigation with neighboring landowners, the subject property’s previous owner executed affidavits and a deposition that Osprey claimed created the risk of a future public prescriptive easement claim adverse to Osprey’s title. Osprey sent a request to First American invoking title insurance coverage asking First American to take some action to either perfect osprey’s title or compensate Osprey for this perceived title defect. First American declined, and Osprey filed suit to enforce First American’s purported duty to defend and indemnify Osprey. The superior court granted First American’s motion for summary judgment. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that Miller’s statements did not create a “triggering event” requiring First American to take any action, and no obligation was imposed on First American under these circumstances to preemptively indemnify Osprey. View "Osprey Landing, LLC v. First American Title Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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David Bordetsky filed a complaint for foreclosure against JAK Realty Trust, alleging that Gregory O’Halloran, as trustee of the Trust, executed a promissory note secured by a mortgage on property located in Benton and that the Trust had defaulted on the note. After a nonjury trial, the court issued a judgment in favor of the Trust, concluding that Bordetsky was required to, but did not, comply with the requirements for a notice of default and right to cure contained in Me. Rev. Stat. 14, 6111. The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment, holding that the requirements for a notice of default and right to cure contained in section 6111 did not apply to Bordetsky’s foreclosure action against the Trust. Remanded. View "Bordetsky v. JAK Realty Trust" on Justia Law