ESTATE OF THOMAS E. CABATIT
STEPHEN A. CANDERS et al
Argued: May 14, 2014.
On the briefs: Lee H. Bals, Esq., Marcus, Clegg & Mistretta, P.A., Portland, for appellant Joseph N. Cabatit.
James M. Bowie, Esq., and Hillary J. Bouchard, Esq., Thompson & Bowie, LLP, Portland, for appellees Stephen A. Canders and Maine Legal Associates, P.A.
At oral argument: Lee H. Bals, Esq., for appellant Joseph N. Cabatit.
James M. Bowie, Esq., for appellees Stephen A. Canders and Maine Legal Associates, P.A.
Panel: SAUFLEY, C.J., and ALEXANDER, SILVER, MEAD, GORMAN, and JABAR, JJ.
[¶1] Joseph N. Cabatit, as successor personal representative of the Estate of Thomas E. Cabatit, appeals from a summary judgment entered in the Superior Court (York County, O'Neil, J.) in favor of Stephen A. Canders and Maine Legal Associates, P.A. (collectively, MLA) on his claims of professional negligence and breach of fiduciary duty. Because we conclude that (1) no attorney-client relationship existed between MLA and Joseph in his role as successor personal representative of the Estate and (2) MLA did not owe any duty to Joseph as a nonclient, we affirm the judgment.
[¶2] The parties' joint stipulated statement of material facts and the agreed-to record establish the following facts. Thomas E. Cabatit died in 2005, survived by two sons, Jerediah Cabatit and Joseph Cabatit. Pursuant to Thomas's will, Jerediah and Joseph were given equal shares of his Estate after the payment of debts, taxes, and expenses. In his will, Thomas designated his sister, Julibel Cabatit-Alegre,
as the personal representative of the Estate.
[¶3] On November 15, 2005, Julibel and MLA entered into an engagement and fee agreement, which provided, in pertinent part, as follows:
The Client, Julibel Cabatit-Alegre, named Personal Representative in the Will involved in the Estate listed below, retains the firm of MAINE LEGAL ASSOCIATES, P.A., and its attorneys, presently including Stephen A. Canders . . . to perform legal services in the following matter:
1. Scope of Legal Services
Probate of the Estate of Thomas E. Cabatit, late of Scarborough, Maine, not including any collection proceeding. . . . Services will include . . . preparation of any and all necessary probate court documents, pleadings, accounts, inventories and other required or necessary forms, documents and instruments, and correspondence . . . . No title services will be involved in this representation. Litigation ...