Articles Posted in Maine Supreme Judicial Court

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court dismissing Plaintiff's complaint alleging professional malpractice and related causes of action arising from Defendant's legal representation of him in federal criminal proceedings, holding that the complaint failed to state a claim for relief. Defendant was appointed to represent Plaintiff in criminal proceedings on the charge of failure to register as a sex offender. Plaintiff admitted that he did not dispute that he failed to register, and the court sentenced him to a term of months and a period of supervised release with conditions. Later, in probation violation proceedings, Plaintiff admitted that he had violated the conditions of his supervised release. Plaintiff was sentenced, and his conviction was affirmed on appeal to the federal district court. Plaintiff later filed this civil complaint against Defendant, alleging legal malpractice and related claims arising from Defendant's representation of him both at sentencing for failure to register and during the proceedings to revoke his supervised release. The superior court dismissed the complaint for failure to state a claim. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that the complaint was properly dismissed for failure to state a claim. View "Goguen v. Haddow" on Justia Law

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Maine attorneys must obtain a client’s informed consent regarding the scope and effect of any contractual provision that prospectively requires the client to submit malpractice claims against those attorneys to arbitration. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court denying Bernstein, Shur, Sawyer & Nelson, P.A.’s (Bernstein) motion to compel arbitration in a legal malpractice claim filed against it. The superior court concluded that Bernstein failed to obtain informed consent from Susan Snow, its client, to submit malpractice claims to arbitration and that federal law does not preempt a rule requiring attorneys to obtain such informed consent from their clients. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that the superior court did not err in concluding that (1) Bernstein’s failure to obtain informed consent from Snow regarding an arbitration provision rendered that provision unenforceable as contrary to public policy; and (2) the Federal Arbitration Act does not preempt a requirement that attorneys obtain informed consent from their clients before contracting to submit disputes to arbitration. View "Snow v. Bernstein, Shur, Sawyer & Nelson, P.A." on Justia Law

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After Plaintiff was terminated from his employment from Bath Iron Works (BIW), Plaintiff grieved the termination. The Local S7 Union Grievance Committee voted not to arbitrate the grievance. Thereafter, represented by Attorney John R. Lemieux, Plaintiff filed a complaint against the Union and BIW, alleging breach of the collective bargaining agreement and discrimination. The magistrate judge issued a recommended decision granting a summary judgment in favor of BIW and the Union. The superior court affirmed the magistrate judge’s recommended decision, and the court of appeals affirmed. Plaintiff then filed this action against Lemieux, alleging legal malpractice, breach of fiduciary duty, and negligent infliction of emotional distress. The superior court granted summary judgment in favor of Lemieux, concluding that Plaintiff failed to put forth prima facie evidence of causation. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that summary judgment was proper because Plaintiff failed to put forth prima facie evidence of causation to support his claims. View "Brooks v. Lemieux" on Justia Law

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After a hearing, the State Board of Nursing found that John S. Zablotny had violated his professional duties and revoked his nursing license for two years. The district court affirmed. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment and remanded for further proceedings, concluding that the district court erred in conducting an appellate-type review. On remand, the district court concluded that Zablotny had engaged in activities that constituted professional misconduct but also concluded that the Board failed to prove other allegations of professional misconduct. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that the district court’s findings supported the conclusion that the court was not compelled, as a matter of law, to find that Zablotny violated Board rules or professional standards of care. View "Zablotny v. State Board of Nursing" on Justia Law

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Jon Haddow, an attorney, represented and Frank and Beverly Pawlendzio in personal bankruptcy proceedings. Following the proceedings, the Pawlendzios filed a complaint against Haddow, asserting claims of legal malpractice and seeking damages for economic loss and extreme emotional distress. The Pawlendzios based their claims on the fact that, contrary to Haddow’s advice, loans made to them by friends and relatives lost their protected status as a result of the bankruptcy proceedings. The superior court entered an order granting summary judgment in favor of Haddow. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that the Pawlendzios failed to produce expert-based evidence that Haddow breached his duty owed to the Pawlendzios. View "Pawlendzio v. Haddow" on Justia Law

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David Savell filed a complaint against Michael Duddy and the law firm of Kelly, Remmel & Zimmerman (KRZ) founded upon his assertion that an attorney-client relationship existed between himself and Duddy. Among other claims, Savell alleged claims for attorney malpractice and breach of fiduciary duty. The court granted Duddy and KRZ’s motion for summary judgment, concluding that Savell failed to demonstrate an attorney-client relationship between himself and Duddy. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) an attorney-client relationship did not exist between Savell and Duddy; and (2) Duddy did not owe Savell a duty of care as a nonclient. View "Savell v. Duddy" on Justia Law

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This case arose from the revocation of a building permit previously granted to R. Bruce Montgomery and Wanda Haddock (collectively, Montgomery). Montgomery, represented by Judy A.S. Metcalf and William V. Ferdinand Jr. (collectively, the Eaton Peabody attorneys), appealed the revocation of the permit, contesting the revocation of the part of the permit dealing with the construction of a garage. The Georgetown Planning Board left in place a stop-work order on the construction of the garage. Montgomery subsequently hired attorney Clifford H. Goodall to assist him in his attempts to apply for a building permit, without success. Montgomery filed a legal malpractice complaint against the Eaton Peabody attorneys. The superior court dismissed five of the six counts of the complaint. Montgomery subsequently filed a second amended complaint raising legal malpractice claims against Goodall. The superior court granted summary judgment in favor of Goodall. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that the superior court (1) properly granted the Eaton Peabody attorneys’ motion to dismiss counts one through five of Montgomery’s complaint; and (2) did not abuse its discretion in denying Montgomery’s motion to file a third amended complaint made three years after the commencement of the suit. View "Montgomery v. Eaton Peabody, LLP" on Justia Law

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This case arose from the revocation of a building permit previously granted to R. Bruce Montgomery and Wanda Haddock (collectively, Montgomery). Montgomery, represented by Judy A.S. Metcalf and William V. Ferdinand Jr. (collectively, the Eaton Peabody attorneys), appealed the revocation of the permit, contesting the revocation of the part of the permit dealing with the construction of a garage. The Georgetown Planning Board left in place a stop-work order on the construction of the garage. Montgomery subsequently hired attorney Clifford H. Goodall to assist him in his attempts to apply for a building permit, without success. Montgomery filed a legal malpractice complaint against the Eaton Peabody attorneys. The superior court dismissed five of the six counts of the complaint. Montgomery subsequently filed a second amended complaint raising legal malpractice claims against Goodall. The superior court granted summary judgment in favor of Goodall. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that the superior court (1) properly granted the Eaton Peabody attorneys’ motion to dismiss counts one through five of Montgomery’s complaint; and (2) did not abuse its discretion in denying Montgomery’s motion to file a third amended complaint made three years after the commencement of the suit. View "Montgomery v. Eaton Peabody, LLP" on Justia Law