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Hayward v. Ocean House, Inc.

Superior Court of Maine, York

March 25, 2014

CATHERINE F HAYWARD, TRUSTEE OF THE CATHERINE F. HAYWARD REVOCABLE TRUST OF 2012, Plaintiff,
v.
OCEAN HOUSE, INC., Defendants

FOR PLAINTIFF: BRADLEY C MORIN, BOURQUE & CLEGG, SANFORD ME.

FOR DEFENDANT: DAVID P MOONEY, JAMES B BARTLETT PA, YORK ME.

ORDER

John H. O'Neil, J.

I. Background

Plaintiffs bring this action to quiet title, for adverse possession, prescriptive easement, trespass, and injunctive relief with regards to the property at 2 Hawk St., Town of York, York County, Maine. In October 2012, Defendant built a fence on the Property surrounding Plaintiff's residence and closing off the parcel's access from the front door to the sidewalk. Defendant counterclaims for adverse possession.

In 1988, the Plaintiff's predecessor in interest brought a similar suit to quiet title. Defendant counterclaimed for adverse possession. After the plaintiff in the earlier action failed to file a report of conference of counsel with the court pursuant to Supreme Judicial Court Administrative Order SJC-316, the court dismissed the claim with prejudice.

Plaintiff moves the Court to dismiss Defendants affirmative defense of res judicata. Defendant moves the Court for Partial Summary Judgment on the basis of res judicata.

II. Standard of Review

When a defendant moves for summary judgment, " the plaintiff must establish a prima facie case for each element of [the] cause of action that is properly challenged in the defendant's motion." Flaherty v. Muther, 2011 ME 32, ¶ 38, 171 A.3d 640. The burden then shifts to the defendant to show that there is no genuine issue of material fact. Summary judgment is appropriate where no genuine issue of material fact exists and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Beal v. Allstate Ins. Co., 989 A.2d 733, 738 (Me. 2010); Dyer v. Department of Transportation, 951 A.2d 821, 825 (Me. 2008). When reviewing a motion for summary judgment, the court reviews the parties' statements of material facts and the cited record evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Id.

A genuine issue of material fact exists where the fact finder must make a determination between differing versions of the truth. Reliance National Indemnity v. Knowles Industrial Services Corp., 2005 ME 29, ¶ 7, 868 A.2d 220; citing Univ. of Me. Found. v. Fleet Bank of Me., 2003 ME 20, ¶ 20, 817 A.2d 871. Furthermore, " a fact is material if it could potentially affect the outcome of the case." Id.

III. Discussion

The issue before the Court is Defendant's affirmative defense of res judicata. " The doctrine of res judicata bars re-litigation if: (1) the same parties or their privies are involved in both actions; (2) a valid final judgment was entered in the prior action; and (3) the matters presented for decision in the second action were, or might have been, litigated in the first action." Dep't of Human Servs. on Behalf of Boulanger v. Comeau, 663 A.2d 46, 48 (Me. 1995).

Despite Plaintiff's argument otherwise, the matters presented in the earlier case were essentially the same as those presented in the later case. Giving the claim a heading of " declaratory judgment" instead of " quiet title" does not change what the party is seeking or how the Court must view the action.[1]

The judgment was not final. The 1988 order stated: " For failure to comply with order of 1/14/88, this matter is dismissed with prejudice." Cavanaugh v. Ocean House, Inc., YORSC-CV- 86-336 (Me. Super. Ct., Yor. Cty., March 30, ...


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