by
Clear and convincing evidence supported the district court’s finding that Mother was unfit as a parent, and the district court acted within its discretion in determining that termination of Mother’s parental rights was in the child’s best interest. The district court terminated Mother’s parental rights to her child pursuant to Me. Rev. Stat. 22, 4055(1)(A)(1)(a), (B)(2)(a), and (b)(i)-(ii). On appeal, Mother challenged the sufficiency of the evidence supporting the lower court’s findings of parental unfitness and argued that the court was required to order additional time for her to attempt to rehabilitate herself and reunify with the child. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that the court’s findings were supported by competent evidence in the record, and the court properly exercised its discretion in this case. View "In re Child of Amber L." on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

by
The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed a summary judgment entered in the Business and Consumer Docket in favor of Copay Italia S.p.A. on Puritan Medical Products Company’s claim that Copay violated Maine’s Actions for Bad Faith Assertion of Patent Infringement statute, Me. Rev. Stat. 14, 8701-8702, holding that Puritan’s claim was preempted by federal patent law. Although the lower court granted summary judgment for Copan after finding no genuine issues of material fact and determining that Copay was entitled to judgment as a matter of law, Copan filed a cross-appeal challenging the court’s conclusion that Puritan’s claim was not preempted by federal law. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) in its preemption analysis, the trial court conflated the test for federal preemption with the test for federal jurisdiction; and (2) federal patent law preempted Puritan’s state law claim, and therefore, summary judgment in favor of Copay was properly granted on that basis. View "Puritan Medical Products Co. v. Copan Italia S.p.A." on Justia Law

by
A Department of Health and Human Services hearing officer erred in concluding that a child support ordered entered in James Fagone’s divorce from Kristin Fagone authorized the Department’s Division of Support Enforcement and Recovery to adjust the amount of child support owed, without a modification of the court order, upon the oldest of the parties’ three children reaching age eighteen. The superior court vacated the hearing officer’s decision, concluding that the child support order entered upon the Fagones’ divorce was not self-adjusting. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that the superior court correctly concluded that the order required the payment of support in the amount specified unless and until ordered otherwise and that the hearing officer erred in calculating a reduced amount based on the terms of the existing child support order. View "Department of Health and Human Services v. Fagone" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

by
In this appeal, the Supreme Judicial Court clarified the circumstances in which a court order that anticipates a change in child support upon the occurrence of future events will be self-effectuating. In 2007, Todd Wood and Shelly Higgins divorced. The judgment required Todd Wood to pay child support, and the child support order stated that the child support obligation shall continue for each child until that child reaches the age of eighteen. In 2009, the oldest child turned eighteen, but Wood continued to pay child support in the amount ordered until 2015 when he filed motions to modify and for determination of overpayment. The magistrate entered modified child support orders but concluded that Wood could not recover any overpayment for child support paid prior to his service of the motion to modify. Wood appealed, arguing that he was entitled to recoup an overpayment of child support. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) the court’s order requiring Todd to pay child support did not contain a self-effectuating provision immediately reducing Wood’s child support payments upon his oldest child reaching age eighteen; and (2) neither administrative collateral estoppel nor administrative equitable estoppel was properly raised. View "Higgins v. Wood" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

by
The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the district court finding John McNutt (Dan) in contempt of the parties’ earlier divorce judgment and increasing his spousal support obligation to Janice McNutt. On appeal, Dan argued that the court erred by (1) finding that he was now able to pay increased spousal support and ordering a temporary increase of that support to $1,750 each month, and (2) not addressing an ambiguity in the divorce judgment and imposing a lien in Janice’s favor, which he alleged rendered him unable to purge his contempt. The Supreme Judicial Court held (1) ample competent evidence in the record supported the court’s findings that Dan was in contempt of the property disposition provisions of the divorce judgment and that he received a substantial increase in income due to his disregard of the court’s order to sell or refinance two marital rental properties; and (2) the lien was consistent with the terms of the divorce judgment. View "McNutt v. McNutt" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

by
The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the district court terminating Mother’s parental rights to her child pursuant to Me. Rev. Stat. 22, 4055(1)(A)(1)(a) and (B)(2)(a), (b)(i),(iv), holding that the evidence supported the court’s findings and discretionary determinations. On appeal, Mother challenged the sufficiency of the evidence supporting the district court’s judgment, specifically challenging the Department of Health and Human Services’ efforts to rehabilitate her and reunify her with her child. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that the record (1) supported the court’s finding of at least one ground of unfitness as to Mother, and (2) showed that, despite the Department’s efforts at rehabilitating and reunifying the family, Mother was still unsuccessful at reunifying with her child. View "In re Child of Lindsay D." on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

by
The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the trial court’s denial of Defendant’s motion to suppress his blood-alcohol test results as having been procured without a warrant and without voluntary consent, holding that Defendant consented to the blood test. The blood test was taken upon probable cause to believe that the ability of Defendant, the driver of the motor vehicle, to operate the vehicle was impaired by intoxicants. On appeal, Defendant argued that the blood test was unconstitutional because it was taken without a warrant and her consent to the test was rendered involuntary by the warning of an increased minimum sentence if she refused to consent and was then convicted. The Supreme Judicial Court disagreed, holding that no coercion results from a law enforcement officer’s statement to a driver that, if she is ultimately convicted of operating under the influence, her failure to submit to a blood draw would subject her to an enhanced criminal penalty, including a minimum mandatory jail term. View "State v. Lemeunier-Fitzgerald" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal brought by Sharon Carrillo from an order of the trial court denying her motion to disqualify the State’s attorneys from further participation in her prosecution for murder, holding that the appeal was interlocutory. Carrillo moved to disqualify the State’s attorneys for participating further in her prosecution, arguing that the prosecutors committed ethical violations by obtaining certain subpoenaed information. The trial court denied the motion to disqualify, determining that the prosecutors’ error did not warrant the extraordinary remedy of disqualification. Carrido appealed. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal as interlocutory, holding the Carrillo did not meet her burden of demonstrating that the exception to the final judgment rule applied. View "State v. Carrillo" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
The Business and Consumer Docket did not err by determining that the Sensible Transportation Policy Act (STPA), Me. Rev. Stat. 23, 73, afforded the plaintiffs, who sought declaratory and injunctive relief regarding the Department of Transportation’s plan to widen Main Street in Wiscasset, no private right of action. Plaintiffs, four entities that owned property in Wiscasset, claimed that the Department violated various constitutional, statutory, regulatory, and municipal provisions in planning and designing a downtown improvement project calling for the widening and alteration of Maine Street. The court entered a judgment on the pleadings in favor of the Department as to all counts. As to count one, the court concluded that the STPA affords no private right of action and that Plaintiffs were precluded from seeking relief on that basis. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that the STPA provides for no implied private right of action to allow enforcement of its terms. View "Wawenock, LLC v. Department of Transportation" on Justia Law

Posted in: Transportation Law

by
The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the district court terminating Parents’ parental rights to their two children and denying their motions to reopen the record and for relief from judgment. On appeal, Parents asserted that the district court erred by denying their motion to reopen the evidence and by denying their motion under Me. R. Civ. P. 60(b). The Supreme Court held (1) the circuit court had no discretion to reopen the evidence as to certain testimony, and the court did not abuse its discretion when it denied Parents’ motion to reopen to present evidence that Parents claimed was relevant to the issues of parental unfitness and the children’s best interests; and (2) the court did not err by determining that, at an earlier termination hearing, Mother was not prejudiced by her attorney’s ineffective representation and that Father’s counsel’s performance was not deficient in the first place. View "In re Children of Jeremy A." on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law