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Nadeau v. Frydrych

Supreme Judicial Court of Maine

December 31, 2014

ROBERT M.A. NADEAU
v.
LYNNANN FRYDRYCH

Argued: December 9, 2014.

Judgment and order awarding attorney fees vacated. Remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

On the briefs and at oral argument: Robert M.A. Nadeau, appellant Pro se.

Tyler J. Smith, Esq., Libby O'Brien Kingsley & Champion, LLC, Kennebunk, for appellee Lynnann Frydrych.

Panel: SAUFLEY, C.J., and ALEXANDER, MEAD, GORMAN, JABAR, and HJELM, JJ.

OPINION

PER CURIAM

[¶1] Robert M.A. Nadeau appeals from a judgment of the District Court (York, Cantara, J.) dismissing his complaint for protection from harassment against Lynnann Frydrych. The judgment was entered after a non-testimonial hearing.

Page 1255

[¶2] Nadeau argues that the court erred by determining that he failed to allege three or more acts of harassment pursuant to 5 M.R.S. § 4651(2)(A) (2014) or, alternatively, by failing to consider the alleged conduct as harassment by a single act or course of conduct constituting a violation of Maine's stalking statute, 5 M.R.S. § 4651(2)(C) (2014); 17-A M.R.S § 210-A (2014).[1] Nadeau also contends that, because his complaint was not frivolous, the court erred or abused its discretion by awarding Frydrych attorney fees and costs, and that the fees as assessed were unreasonable. Reviewing the legal sufficiency of the dismissed complaint de novo and in the light most favorable to Nadeau, see Ramsey v. Baxter Title Co., 2012 ME 113, ¶ 6, 54 A.3d 710, we conclude that Nadeau alleged sufficient facts to entitle him to seek relief pursuant to section 4651(2)(A). Accordingly, we vacate the judgment and remand for consideration on the merits.

I. CASE HISTORY

[¶3] On December 23, 2013, Nadeau filed a complaint for protection from harassment against Frydrych in the District Court pursuant to 5 M.R.S. § 4652 (2014). In a twenty-three-page attachment to the complaint, Nadeau alleged that Frydrych had engaged in several incidents of harassment against him since the end of their personal relationship. On February 12, 2014, Frydrych filed a motion to dismiss Nadeau's complaint pursuant to M.R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), asserting that Nadeau failed to state a claim of harassment and did not attach a copy of a notice to cease harassment, as required by 17-A M.R.S. § 506-A (2014) and 5 M.R.S. § 4653(1)(B) (2014).[2] Frydrych's motion also sought attorney fees on the basis that the complaint was frivolous and contained unwarranted personal attacks on Frydrych regarding her character and the history of the relationship between the parties.

[¶4] The court held a hearing on the motion on March 3, 2014. Through a dismissal order and subsequent clarification order, the court dismissed the complaint with prejudice, concluding that Nadeau had not sufficiently alleged harassment as defined by 5 M.R.S. § 4651(2)(A). In an accompanying order, the court awarded Frydrych $7,257.50 in attorney fees and costs pursuant to 5 M.R.S. § 4655(1-A) (2014) and the court's inherent authority. Nadeau filed this timely appeal pursuant

Page 1256

to M.R. App. P. 2(b)(3) and 5 M.R.S. § ...


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