Justia Commercial Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Maine Supreme Court
Voisine v. Berube
After Valley Firewood and Tree Farm (collectively, Valley) terminated its firewood business, Gary Voisine, on behalf of Valley, filed a three-count shareholder's derivative action against Valley and Robert Berube, a shareholder and president of Valley. After a bench trial, the superior court found Berube breached his duty to act in good faith toward Valley and awarded damages to Valley in the amount of $1,500,000, with half that sum, $750,000 plus interest and costs, to be paid over to Voisine. At issue on appeal was whether Valley itself was damaged and suffered losses as a result of Berube's conduct and whether Voisine had standing to bring the derivative action on Valley's behalf. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the superior court, holding that Voisine lacked standing to bring a shareholder's derivative action on behalf of Valley and was not entitled to damages as a matter of law because Voisine participated in the division of assets of Valley, received the benefits of that distribution, and created a corporation to sell firewood formerly sold by Valley that was intended to replace Valley. View "Voisine v. Berube" on Justia Law
Arrow Fin. Servs., LLC v. Guiliani
Arrow Financial Services filed a complaint against Sarah Guiliani alleging breach of contract and unjust enrichment. Arrow then filed a motion for summary judgment seeking to establish that Arrow owned a credit card account registered to Guiliani and that Guiliani owed an unpaid balance of $5044 on the account. In support of its motion, Arrow asserted in an affidavit that it was the assignee of Guiliani's credit card account with Washington Mutural. The district court granted Arrow's motion and awarded Arrow $3493, plus interest and court costs. The Supreme Court vacated the district court's judgment, holding that the district court incorrectly granted summary judgment in favor of Arrow because disputes remained as to material facts regarding the balance due on the account and its assignment to Arrow. View "Arrow Fin. Servs., LLC v. Guiliani" on Justia Law
Reliable Copy Serv., Inc. v. Liberty
Liberty Group (Liberty) retained Reliable Copy Service (Reliable) to provide services in connection with litigation. Later, Reliable filed a complaint in a Pennsylvania court of common pleas in an effort to collect on the sums owed. The Pennsylvania court subsequently entered a default judgment against Liberty. Following the end of the litigation in the Pennsylvania court, a Maine superior court entered a judgment in favor of Reliable and issued a writ of execution at Reliable's request. Liberty filed a motion for relief from judgment, arguing that the Pennsylvania default judgment was not enforceable in Maine because the Pennsylvania default judgment was void. The superior court denied the motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the Pennsylvania judgment suffered from no jurisdiction defect or due process impediment that would render it void pursuant to Me. R. Civ. P. 60(b)(4); and (2) Liberty's procedural due process rights were not violated when Reliable requested and received from the Pennsylvania court an increased damages award. View "Reliable Copy Serv., Inc. v. Liberty" on Justia Law
Federal Nat’l Mortgage Ass’n v. Bradbury
Fannie Mae instituted foreclosure proceedings against Nicolle Bradbury for residential property she owed in Maine. Fannie Mae named GMAC Mortgage, the loan servicer, as a party-in-interest. During a deposition, a GMAC employee testified that he did not read the affidavits he signed or execute the affidavits before a notary. Fannie Mae subsequently filed a motion for a protective order to prevent the public disclosure of the deposition, which the district court denied. The district court ultimately dismissed without prejudice the complaint after finding Fannie Mae submitted a bad faith affidavit for purposes of summary judgment. As sanctions, the court ordered Fannie Mae to pay Bradbury for the attorney fees and costs she incurred in demonstrating the bad faith of the affidavit. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in (1) declining to find GMAC in contempt even though the affidavit was executed by a GMAC employee; and (2) failing to award Bradbury attorney fees and costs in defending against the motion for a protective order. View "Federal Nat'l Mortgage Ass'n v. Bradbury" on Justia Law
Deutsche Bank Nat’l Trust Co. v. Pelletier
Deutsche Bank, the holder of a note and mortgage on the Pelletiers' home, filed a complaint for foreclosure against the Pelletiers. The Pelletiers filed a motion to dismiss and asserted affirmative defenses through which they sought rescission as a remedy. The district court entered summary judgment for the Pelletiers, ruling that, because the bank offered no evidence to oppose the facts offered by the Pelletiers in support of rescission, and because the evidence offered by the Pelletiers established that they had timely notified the bank of their rescission right, they were entitled to judgment on their demand for rescission as a matter of law. The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court but remanded for further proceedings to determine how the rescission should be effectuated. View "Deutsche Bank Nat'l Trust Co. v. Pelletier" on Justia Law
Town of Blue Hill v. Leighton
After Dorothy Leighton failed to pay taxes on her property and the Town of Blue Hill recorded a tax collector's lien certificate on the property, the Town filed a complaint against Leighton for forcible entry and detainer (FED), seeking possession of the property and costs. The district court entered judgment in Leighton's favor. The superior court vacated the district court's judgment and remanded with instructions to issue a writ of possession in favor of the Town. On appeal, Leighton contended that the Town was required, as a matter of law, to prove that it held current title to the property in the FED action. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that because the Town produced evidence that it held title superior to Leighton by virtue of the statutorily-foreclosed tax lien mortgage on the property, the Town presented sufficient evidence that it was entitled to possession of the property. View "Town of Blue Hill v. Leighton" on Justia Law
HSBC Bank USA, N.A. v. Gabay
Janelle Gabay defaulted on a promissory note secured by a mortgage of her real property. HSBC Bank USA, the holder of the mortgage, filed a complaint for foreclosure and sale against Gabay. The district court granted HSBC's motion for summary judgment. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the district court, holding that entry of judgment as a matter of law was precluded where (1) HSBC's statement of material facts failed to properly present proof of ownership of the mortgage note; (2) HSBC's statement of material facts did not contain an adequate description of the mortgaged premises including a street address; (3) a genuine issue of material fact existed as to the order of priority and amounts due to other parties-in-interest; and (4) the amount of costs due as part of the amount due on the mortgage was not included in the summary judgment record as required. Remanded.
Deutsche Bank Nat’l Trust Co. v. Pelletier
Deutsche Bank National Trust Company, as trustee in trust for the registered holders of Ameriquest Mortgage Securities, Inc., appealed from a summary judgment entered in the district court in favor of Donald and Kim Pelletier on the bank's complaint for foreclosure. The district court concluded that Deutsche Bank had failed to dispute facts asserted by the Pelletiers demonstrating that they had asserted a right of rescission. On appeal, the Supreme Court affirmed the grant of summary judgment, but because the district court's order reached only the point of determining that the Pelletiers were entitled to rescission, the Court remanded for further proceedings to effectuate the rescission.
Beneficial Maine, Inc. v. Carter
After Beneficial Maine filed a complaint for foreclosure against Timothy and Kathleen Carter in district court, Beneficial moved for summary judgment. To support its motion, Beneficial relied on an affidvait of an employee of a separate business identified as Beneficial's servicer. Beneficial cited to the affidavit as the sole evidentiary support for its allegations of its ownership of the promissory note and mortgage, the Carters' obligation on the note, the Carters' default, and the amount that the Carters owed. The district court entered summary judgment in the bank's favor on its foreclosure complaint. The Carters appealed, challenging the foundation presented by Beneficial to support the admissibility of its mortgage records pursuant to the business records exception to the hearsay rule. The Supreme Court vacated the summary judgment entered in favor of Beneficial, concluding that because the employee did not establish that she was a custodian or other qualified witness who could provide trustworthy and reliable information about the records, the affidavit could not establish the foundation for the records' admissibility. Therefore, the district court could not properly consider those records on summary judgment. Remanded.
State v. St. Onge
Defendant Robert St. Onge, president and member of Winterwood, operated a composting facility at his farm that accepted solid waste and converted it into compost for sale. The Department of Environmental Protection filed a land use complaint against Winterwood related to the discharge of pollutants from its composting operation into a nearby brook. The court entered a contempt order that required Winterwood to cease the discharge of pollutants into state waters. On the Department's motion to enforce the contempt order, the court ordered that Winterwood was immediately prohibited from receiving any other composting material. Later, four different waste companies delivered waste to Winterwood for composting. The state filed a criminal complaint and summons, charging St. Onge as principal of Winterwood with contempt. In superior court, St. Onge signed a jury trial waiver. The court adjudicated St. Onge to be in contempt as a Class D crime and sentenced him to six months in jail. St. Onge appealed. The Supreme Court affirmed all aspects of the judgment with the exception of the Class D modification. Because an adjudication of contempt with punitive sanctions is not a Class D crime, the judgment was modified accordingly.