Justia Contracts Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Maine Supreme Judicial Court
Morgan v. Townsend
The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed in part and vacated in part the summary judgment entered by the Business and Consumer Docket in an action brought by Defendant's neighbors issuing a declaratory judgment and injunction based on the court's determination that Defendant's short-term rentals had violated a deed restriction that limits the use and occupancy of certain property and the structures on it, holding that remand was required.Specifically, the Supreme Judicial Court (1) affirmed the lower court's declaration that Defendant's short-term rentals of his oceanfront property had violated a deed restriction that limited the use and occupancy of the property and the structures upon it, holding that there was no error in the summary judgment as to these issues; but (2) vacated the court's injunction against further violations, holding that the injunction lacked specificity on what did and did not comply with the deed restriction in question. View "Morgan v. Townsend" on Justia Law
Indorf v. Keep
The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment of the district court dismissing Plaintiff's action for breach of contract and awarding Defendant attorney fees, holding that the district court abused its discretion.The parties in this case formerly lived together at a Saco residence. When they closed on the property the parties entered a contract where, in exchange for Plaintiff assuming responsibility for the down payment, Defendant agreed to assume a greater share of other expenses. Defendant later moved out of the property and filed a partition action, denying the existence of a contract. Plaintiff brought this action alleging breach of contract. On the same day, Plaintiff filed a motion to consolidate the parties' partition, and contract claims. The district court granted Defendant's motion to dismiss and awarded her attorney fees. The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment below, holding (1) the district court abused its discretion by failing to consolidate the two actions; and (2) because Defendant never pleaded abatement, the district court erred in applying the remedy sua sponte. View "Indorf v. Keep" on Justia Law
Black v. Bureau of Parks & Lands
The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment of the business and consumer docket entered in favor of Plaintiffs vacating the Bureau of Parks and Lands' lease of public reserved land to NECEC Transmission LLC and Central Maine Power Co. (CMP) for construction of a high-capacity transmission line, holding that the Bureau acted within its constitutional and statutory authority in granting the lease.CMP appealed and Plaintiffs cross-appealed the trial court's decision not to address the substantive question of whether the Bureau had the constitutional authority to lease to the public reserved land. Plaintiffs later moved to dismiss the appeals on the ground that a citizen's initiative rendered the appeals moot. The Supreme Judicial Court denied the motion to dismiss and vacated the judgment below, holding (1) retroactive application of section 1 of the Initiative did not violate the Contract Clause of the United States Constitution, and therefore, the lease was not voided by the initiative; and (2) the record established that the Bureau acted within its constitutional and statutory authority in granting the lease. View "Black v. Bureau of Parks & Lands" on Justia Law
Doe v. Lozano
The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the district court determining that a settlement agreement signed by the parties constituted a binding contract and granting Plaintiff's motion to enforce the agreement, holding that issues of fact regarding the formation of the settlement agreement existed.Plaintiff bought this complaint against Defendant for unjust enrichment and partition of real estate. Plaintiff filed with the court a settlement agreement, signed by both parties, stating that the parties were previously in a personal and business relationship and seeking to resolve all issues arising from that relationship. Plaintiff then filed a motion to enforce that agreement and a declaration that the agreement was valid. The court approved the settlement agreement and entered judgment for Plaintiff. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) if a party raises a factual issue that goes to the validity of a settlement agreement’s formation, an evidentiary hearing will generally be necessary on a motion to enforce the settlement, even if the written agreement otherwise appears to be a fully integrated contract; and (2) because no such hearing was held in this case the judgment must be vacated. View "Doe v. Lozano" on Justia Law
Sarchi v. Uber Technologies, Inc.
The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the decision of the superior court denying the motion to compel arbitration brought by Uber Technologies, Inc. and Rasier, LLC (collectively, Uber) in this action brought by Patricia Sarchi, a user of Uber's ride-sharing service, and the Maine Human Rights Commission, holding that the superior court did not err.Plaintiffs brought this action against Uber for violating the Maine Human Rights Act, Me. Rev. Stat. 5, 4592(8), 4633(2), after Sarchi, who was blind, was refused a ride because of her guide dog. Uber moved to compel Sarchi to arbitrate and to dismiss or stay the action pending arbitration. The motion court denied the motion to compel, concluding that Sarchi did not become bound by the terms and conditions of Uber's user agreement. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that, under the facts and circumstances of this case, Sarchi was not bound by the terms. View "Sarchi v. Uber Technologies, Inc." on Justia Law
Fortney & Weygandt, Inc. v. Lewiston DMEP IX, LLC
The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed in part the judgment entered in the Business and Consumer Docket (BCD) awarding attorney fees and expenses to Forney & Weygandt, Inc. (F&W) but vacated a portion of the judgment awarding F&W attorney fees and expenses related to subcontractor claims, holding that remand was required.Lewiston DMEP IX, LLC, et al. (collectively, GBT), a group of limited purpose entities and a commercial real estate developer, appealed the attorney fees and expenses award to F&W, a commercial general contractor, pursuant to Maine's prompt payment statute, Me. Rev. Stat. 10, 1111-1120. Specifically, GBT contended that the BCD erred in awarding attorney fees and expenses that were not incurred in direct pursuit of F&W's prompt payment claims, including those related to F&W's contract claims, GBT's counterclaims and affirmative defenses, and subcontractor claims against F&W. The Supreme Judicial Court largely affirmed the judgment but vacated the award of attorney fees and expenses related to the subcontractor claims, holding that the court abused its discretion when it did not articulate a basis for an award of fees that would be proper under the prompt payment statute and this Court's interpretative case law. View "Fortney & Weygandt, Inc. v. Lewiston DMEP IX, LLC" on Justia Law
Estate of Sprague v. Bankers Life & Casualty Co.
The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the summary judgment of the superior court concluding that the complaint brought by the Estate of Marion Sprague against Bankers Life and Casualty Company for breach of a home health insurance contract was barred by the applicable statute of limitations, holding that the facts established that the limitations period had not expired before the Estate filed suit.The Estate brought this complaint alleging breach of contract, detrimental reliance, impossibility of performance, quantum merit, and violation of Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. 24-A, 2155. Bankers Life filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that the Estate's action was time-barred under Maine's six-year statute of limitations for civil actions. The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the summary judgment, holding that the Estate timely filed its complaint within the six-year limitations period. View "Estate of Sprague v. Bankers Life & Casualty Co." on Justia Law
Yankee Pride Transportation & Logistics, Inc. v. UIG, Inc.
The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the summary judgment entered in the business and consumer court in favor of UIG, Inc. on Yankee Pride Transportation and Logistics, Inc.'s claims of negligence, breach of contract, and breach of fiduciary duty, holding that there was no genuine issue of material fact as to causation.On appeal, Yankee Pride argued that it had an implied contract with UIG based on the parties' relationship and that UIG breached that contract by failing to make timely efforts to renew Yankee Pride's policy. The Supreme Judicial Court disagreed, holding that Yankee Pride's failure to offer competent evidence of causation precluded a prima facie showing on any of its claims, whether they sounded in contract, tort, or breach of fiduciary duty. View "Yankee Pride Transportation & Logistics, Inc. v. UIG, Inc." on Justia Law
H&B Realty, LLC v. JJ Cars, LLC
The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the Business and Consumer Docket in favor of JJ Cars, LLC and John Mokarzel on H&B Realty, LLC's complaint for breach of contract, holding that there was no error in the court's judgment.The lower court determined that H&B breached the lease in this case by unreasonably withholding consent to a proposed sublease. On appeal, H&B argued that the court erred in applying the affirmative defenses, as pleaded by JJ Cars and Mokarzel, of breach of contract and failure to mitigate damages. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that there was competent record evidence to support the court's finding that H&B materially breached the lease by refusing to consent to sublet the property. View "H&B Realty, LLC v. JJ Cars, LLC" on Justia Law
Corinth Pellets, LLC v. Arch Specialty Insurance Co.
The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment of the superior court dismissing for failure to state a claim Corinth Pellets, LLC's complaint alleging that a fire loss at Corinth's wood pellet mill was covered under a commercial property insurance policy issued by Arch, holding that the superior court erred in its interpretation of Maine's surplus lines insurance law, Me. Rev. Stat. 24-A, 2009-A.On appeal, Corinth argued that the fire loss was covered under the policy, despite having occurred after the policy term had expired, because Arch failed notify Corinth of its intention not to renew the policy as required by section 2009-A, and therefore, the policy was automatically renewed at the end of the term. The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment, holding that section 2009-A(1) requires a surplus lines insurer to give written notice of its intent either to cancel a policy or not to renew a policy at least fourteen days before the effective date of cancellation or nonrenewal. View "Corinth Pellets, LLC v. Arch Specialty Insurance Co." on Justia Law