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Thurston v. Galvin

Supreme Judicial Court of Maine

June 10, 2014

JOHN A. THURSTON et al.
v.
JENNY G. GALVIN

Argued April 9, 2014

On the briefs and at oral argument: Donald A. Fowler, Jr., Esq., Kingfield, for appellant Jenny G. Galvin.

John S. Jenness, Jr., Esq., South Paris, for appellees John S. Thurston and Patricia S. Thurston.

Panel: ALEXANDER, SILVER, MEAD, GORMAN, and JABAR, JJ. Majority: SILVER, MEAD, GORMAN, and JABAR, JJ. Dissent: ALEXANDER, J.

OPINION

Page 17

GORMAN, J.

[¶1] Jenny G. Galvin appeals from a judgment entered in the District Court (Rumford, Oram, J. ) in favor of John A. Thurston and Patricia S. Thurston finding Galvin in default on a land installment contract, foreclosing her rights in the contract, and ordering a writ of possession in favor of the Thurstons. Galvin contends that the Thurstons are barred from pursuing the foreclosure action because the contract did contain all of the contents required for land installment contracts by 33 M.R.S. § 482(1) (2013). She also contends that the court erred when, after finding her in default and foreclosing her rights in the contract pursuant to 14 M.R.S. § 6203-F (2013), it did not order a public sale pursuant to 14 M.R.S. § § 6321-6325 (2013). Because we conclude that the contract complies with 33 M.R.S. § 482(1) and that 14 M.R.S. § 6203-F does not mandate a judicial sale of property subject to a land installment contract, we affirm the judgment.

I. BACKGROUND

[¶2] Galvin, a resident of New Hampshire, entered into a land installment contract with the Thurstons on October 10, 2008. The contract established the terms of a transfer from the Thurstons to Galvin of an approximately nine-acre parcel of land with a dwelling in the Town of Bethel. This parcel comprised a portion of a property jointly owned by the Thurstons that was encumbered by a mortgage held by Norway Savings Bank. The contract fixed the purchase price at $550,000 with an initial payment of $115,000; monthly installments of $2749.50 for two years; and a final balloon payment due in October of 2010. The parties subsequently amended the contract, extending the monthly payment obligation and delaying the balloon deadline by one year. The contract also obligated Galvin to pay real estate taxes on the property. In return, she acquired the right to possess the premises immediately and the right to receive " a good and sufficient Warranty Deed of said real estate, clear of incumbrances" after she paid the full purchase price.

[¶3] The contract provided that Galvin's failure to pay the monthly installments, balloon payment, or real estate taxes would place her in default, at which time the Thurstons could foreclose her rights to the property " by any of the means provided by law for the foreclosure of land installment contracts or mortgages." The contract contained no language indicating that, if she breached her obligations, Galvin would be entitled to recoup any portion of the monies she had paid the Thurstons.

[¶4] Galvin made the initial payment and made full monthly payments through September of 2011. She made no payments in October and November of 2011, made only partial monthly payments through March of 2012, and thereafter stopped making payments entirely. She also failed to pay the property taxes owed in 2011 and 2012.

[¶5] The Thurstons provided Galvin with a notice of default and right to cure in

Page 18

May of 2012. After Galvin failed to pay the sum owed to the Thurstons within the restoration period, they commenced this action. In their complaint, dated August 22, 2012, the Thurstons asked the court to find Galvin in default on the contract and enter a judgment of foreclosure pursuant to 14 M.R.S. § 6203-F; order the issuance of a writ of possession in their favor; and award damages reflecting interest and late charges, real estate taxes paid by the Thurstons on Galvin's behalf, costs of repair for waste to the premises, and attorney fees. In an amended answer filed on February 15, 2013, Galvin asserted, inter alia, that the Thurstons were barred from the relief they sought because the contract did not comply with 33 M.R.S. § 482(1).[1]

[¶6] At a bench trial on April 9, 2013, witnesses testified about the terms of the land installment contract, the Norway Savings Bank mortgage on the property, a line of credit opened by the Thurstons against that mortgage, and ...


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