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Stanley v. Town of Greene

Supreme Judicial Court of Maine

May 21, 2015

GEORGE STANLEY
v.
TOWN OF GREENE

Submitted on Briefs April 23, 2015.

Page 601

On the briefs: George Stanley, appellant, Pro se.

For Town of Greene, appellee: Michael Hodgins, Esq., Bernstein Shur, Augusta.

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

OPINION

Page 602

SAUFLEY, C.J.

[¶1] George Stanley appeals from a judgment entered in the Superior Court (Androscoggin County, MG Kennedy, J. ) dismissing Stanley's complaint against the Town of Greene and entering a default judgment in favor of the Town on its counterclaim seeking injunctive relief and fines due to Stanley's continued operation of a flea market without a license. Stanley contends that the court abused its discretion in denying his motions (1) for a temporary restraining order pursuant to M.R. Civ. P. 65(a); (2) to set aside the entry of default pursuant to M.R. Civ. P. 55(c); (3) to continue pursuant to M.R. Civ. P. 40(c); (4) for relief from default judgment pursuant to M.R. Civ. P. 60(b); and (5) for reconsideration pursuant to M.R. Civ. P. 59(e). Because we conclude that the court afforded Stanley every opportunity to protect his rights in proceedings that he initiated and that had been pending for nearly two years, we conclude that the court did not abuse its discretion in denying Stanley's motions and affirm the judgment.

I. BACKGROUND

[¶2] On March 5, 2011, the Town of Greene adopted its Flea Market Ordinance, which provides that anyone " who holds a flea market on more than four days in any twelve-month period anywhere in the Town of Greene shall obtain a license." Greene, Me., Flea Market Ordinance § 201 (March 5, 2011). George Stanley submitted one or more applications for a flea market license, none of which were approved because of deficiencies in his applications. Without the requisite license, and despite multiple notices of violation and orders for corrective action sent by the Town, Stanley continued to operate a flea market on his property in violation of the Ordinance. Stanley did not appeal from any of the denials of his applications to obtain a license.

[¶3] In June 2012, Stanley filed a complaint against the Town alleging that the Town was interfering with his flea market business on his property by denying him a license. See id. Stanley simultaneously moved for the entry of a temporary restraining order against the Town. The court denied Stanley's motion for a temporary restraining order, concluding that Stanley had failed to show irreparable harm or any likelihood of success on the merits of his claim.

Page 603

[¶4] The Town moved for a more definite statement pursuant to M.R. Civ. P. 12(e), which the court granted. Thereafter, Stanley filed multiple " more definite statements," none of which plead the elements of any cognizable legal theory. The Town moved to dismiss Stanley's complaint in March 2013. While the Town's motion was pending, in May 2013, it served a counterclaim against Stanley by mail, seeking injunctive relief and fines for Stanley's continued operation of his unlicensed flea market in violation of the Ordinance. Stanley failed to answer the Town's counterclaim in the timeframe required by court rules. See M.R. Civ. P. 5(b), 6(c), 12(a). The Town requested an entry of default, and the clerk entered default against Stanley on July 2, 2013. The Town then moved for entry of a default judgment on July 3, 2013. Between July 8 and July 24, 2013, Stanley filed (1) an " answer to the countersuit," (2) a motion for a temporary restraining order, (3) a motion to dismiss the Town's counterclaim, (4) a " prayer for relief," and (5) a motion to " remove" default. The Town opposed Stanley's motions.

[¶5] In September 2013, the court held a hearing on all pending motions. The Town was represented by counsel at the hearing; Stanley attended the hearing but did not have the assistance of an attorney. The hearing was continued so that Stanley could seek legal counsel. In February 2014, the hearing was ...


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