Articles Posted in Maine Supreme Judicial Court

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The “prisoner mailbox rule” applies when a prisoner is forced to rely on the Department of Corrections to ensure that his Me. R. Civ. P. 80C petition is filed, that prisoner places the petition into the control of the Department, and the Department fails timely to deliver the petition to the clerk of court. Petitioner signed a petition pursuant to Me. Rev. Stat. 5, 11002 for judicial review of a Department decision finding that he had committed a disciplinary infraction. The State moved to dismiss the petition for failure to state a claim, arguing that because the clerk of court received Petitioner’s petition one day outside of the thirty-day statutory window, the superior court lacked jurisdiction over the matter. Petitioner urged the superior court to apply the prison mailbox rule, whereby the court would consider the petition filed on the date Petitioner deposited it with prison officials for forwarding to the clerk of court rather than the day it was received by the clerk of court. The court granted the State’s motion to dismiss. After setting forth the circumstances above under which the prisoner mailbox rule applies the Supreme Judicial Court adopted the prison mailbox rule for any unrepresented prisoner under the circumstances of this case, vacated the judgment, and remanded to the superior court for reinstatement of the Rule 80C petition. View "Martin v. Department of Corrections" on Justia Law

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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

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The Supreme Judicial Court dismissed this interlocutory appeal brought by Defendants challenging the superior court’s denial of their motion to seal or strike, holding that Defendants did not demonstrate the irreparable harm necessary for appellate review of the court’s interlocutory order. Plaintiff, the respondent in an attorney discipline proceeding, filed a complaint against Judge Marian Woodman and Judge Nancy Carlson based on their actions and involvement in the disciplinary proceeding. Defendants filed motions to dismiss the complaint and sought imposition of sanctions. After Plaintiff filed a response to the motions the judges filed a motion to seal or strike certain paragraphs of Plaintiff’s response, in which Plaintiff made assertions about the judges and a family member of one of them. The superior court denied the motion. The judges appealed. The Supreme Judicial Court dismissed the appeal, holding that the appeal did not fall within an exception to the final judgment rule. View "Carey v. Maine Board of Overseers of the Bar" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment of the superior court dismissing Petitioner’s complaint seeking review of a disciplinary decision of the Department of Corrections. In dismissing the petition, the superior court entered sua sponte a decision stating that the case was dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. The record was otherwise devoid of any indication of the basis on which the court concluded that it lacked jurisdiction. The Supreme Judicial Court held that no jurisdictional defect was apparent from the record and remanded the matter to the superior court for the court to act on Petitioner’s application to proceed without payment of fees. View "Anctil v. Department of Corrections" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of divorce, defaulting Husband, holding that the district court did not err in determining that service by publication was adequate. When Wife filed a complaint for protection from abuse against Husband, Husband fled to Florida in order to evade service of process. Two months later, Wife prepared a complaint for divorce from Husband, but neither she nor the sheriff’s office was able to find him to serve him with the divorce complaint. The district court granted a motion for service of the divorce complaint by alternate means, allowing Wife to effect service by publishing notice of the complaint in the Lewiston Sun Journal. When Father failed to appear at the divorce hearing, the district court entered a judgment of divorce defaulting Husband. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) Me. R. Civ. P. 4 did not impose a requirement that a copy of the order granting alternate service be personally delivered to Husband; and (2) the district court’s decision not to require Wife to send an email to Husband’s possible email address or notify Husband’s attorney of the order for service by publication did not result in a failure of due process. View "Schulz v. Doeppe" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment entered by the district court denying Father’s Me. R. Civ. P. 60(b) motion for relief from judgment after the court granted Mother’s motion to modify a parental rights and responsibilities order regarding the parties’ son. On appeal, Father argued that the court erred in denying his motion because (1) after another state assumed jurisdiction over the child custody matter, Maine necessarily lost jurisdiction over that matter; and (2) the court erred by not allowing him to present facts and legal arguments to the court before a decision on jurisdiction was made. The Supreme Judicial Court disagreed, holding (1) Maine maintained exclusive, continuing jurisdiction over the child custody matter pursuant to Me. Rev. Stat. 19-A, 1746(1); and (2) the court acted within the confines of section 1740(2), and because Father on two occasions had already presented facts and legal arguments regarding jurisdiction, the court did not abuse its discretion in denying Father a third opportunity to address the matter. View "Fitzpatrick v. McCrary" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court dismissed this appeal from a partial summary judgment entered by the superior court in favor of Bayview Loan Servicing, LLC and M&T Mortgage Corporation as interlocutory, holding that the judgment that Kittery Point Partners, LLC (KPP) appealed from was not a final judgment. KPP filed a complaint against Bayview and M&T seeking a declaratory judgment that a promissory note and the mortgage securing it were invalid. The superior court ordered entry of a partial summary judgment in favor of Bayview and M&T. The Supreme Judicial Court dismissed KPP’s appeal from this order, holding that the court was unable to determine from the superior court’s order whether the facts of this case constituted such an unusual circumstances that the merits of an interlocutory appeal should be considered before all pending claims were resolved. View "Kittery Point Partners, LLC v. Bayview Loan Servicing, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court dismissed this appeal from a partial summary judgment entered by the superior court in favor of Bayview Loan Servicing, LLC and M&T Mortgage Corporation as interlocutory, holding that the judgment that Kittery Point Partners, LLC (KPP) appealed from was not a final judgment. KPP filed a complaint against Bayview and M&T seeking a declaratory judgment that a promissory note and the mortgage securing it were invalid. The superior court ordered entry of a partial summary judgment in favor of Bayview and M&T. The Supreme Judicial Court dismissed KPP’s appeal from this order, holding that the court was unable to determine from the superior court’s order whether the facts of this case constituted such an unusual circumstances that the merits of an interlocutory appeal should be considered before all pending claims were resolved. View "Kittery Point Partners, LLC v. Bayview Loan Servicing, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the order of the superior court, which vacated the district court’s order denying Mark Walker’s motion to set aside the default judgment in this small claims case. Because Walker appealed from the district court’s exercise of discretion in denying his motion to set aside the default, the superior court’s authority was purely on questions of law. The Supreme Judicial Court held that the superior court made certain factual findings that exceeded its authority and vacated the district court’s judgment based on facts it found independently, and therefore, the superior court exceeded its authority. The court remanded the case to the superior court with instructions to determine whether the district court abused its discretion in adjudicating the motion to set aside the default without a hearing. View "Taylor v. Walker" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court dismissed Defendant’s appeal from a judgment of the district court adopting the order of a family law magistrate granting Mother’s motion to modify a child support order included in the divorce judgment between Burdin and Anthony Kline. The child support order did not order Kline to pay child support. Burdin later filed a motion to modify the child support provisions of the divorce judgment, seeking an order requiring Kline to pay child support calculated pursuant to the child support guidelines. A magistrate granted Burdin’s motion. Kline appealed. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal and remanded the case because there is no right of direct appeal from a magistrate’s order. On remand, the district court treated Kline’s appeal as a Me. R. Civ. P. 118(a) objection to the magistrate’s order and adopted that order as the court’s judgment pursuant to Rule 118(a)(2). Kline appealed from the court’s adoption of the magistrate’s order. The Supreme Judicial Court dismissed the appeal because Kline failed to file a timely objection to the magistrate’s order as required by Rule 118, therefore waiving both his right to contest it in district court and to appeal. View "Kline v. Burdin" on Justia Law