November 3, 2015.
the briefs and at oral argument:
A. McDaniel, Esq., Douglas McDaniel Campo & Schools LLC, PA,
Westbrook, for appellant Friends of Maine's Mountains.
F. Kreckel, Esq., Kreckel Law, P.A., Rumford, for appellee
Town of Carthage.
SAUFLEY, C.J., and ALEXANDER, MEAD, GORMAN, JABAR, HJELM, and
[¶1] This appeal arises from a complaint
filed by the Town of Carthage in 2010 seeking to quiet title
to two 160-acre parcels of undeveloped land. The Town based
its claim of ownership of the land on its uninterrupted
possession of the land for over a hundred years. Friends of
Maine's Mountains (FOMM) filed an answer and
counterclaim, claiming to have recently acquired an interest
in the parcels through a descendent of the parcels' last
[¶2] After hearing arguments, the Superior
Court (Franklin County, Murphy, J. ) granted a
summary judgment for the Town and entered a declaratory
judgment in favor of the Town. FOMM appeals, arguing that
the Superior Court erred in determining that the undisputed
facts demonstrated that the Town obtained title to the two
parcels of property through a tax sale that took place over
110 years ago in 1905. We affirm the judgment.
[¶3] Viewed " in the light most
favorable to the party against whom the summary judgment has
been granted," the following facts are drawn from the
statements of material facts and are undisputed unless
expressly stated otherwise. Budge v. Town of
Millinocket, 2012 ME 122, ¶ 12, 55 A.3d 484
(quotation marks omitted).
[¶4] The Town of Carthage is a municipality
that was incorporated in 1826, located in Franklin County.
Within the Town are two 160-acre parcels of land, identified
as Lot 8 in Range 4 and Lot 8 in Range 5. The ownership of
these parcels of land forms the basis of the dispute before
[¶5] Available documentation of ownership of
the parcels begins with the Town's 1826 Tax Valuation and
Commitment Book listing Benjamin Weld as the 1824 "
non-resident owner" of Lots 8 in Ranges 4 and 5. In a
deed recorded in the Cumberland County Registry of Deeds and
dated December 19, 1843, land owned by Benjamin Weld,
deceased, was transferred from Caroline Weld, as
administratrix, to Joseph McKeen, Esq. On December 21, 1843,
McKeen transferred the property back to Caroline Weld. No
records have been found in the Franklin County, Oxford
County, or Cumberland County Registries of Deeds showing a
transfer of the lots after the transfer from McKeen to
Caroline Weld in 1843.
[¶6] Approximately sixty years after that
transfer, in 1902, 1903, and 1904, the tax commitment books
for the Town listed the owners of Lots 8 in Ranges 4 and 5 as
" owners unknown." In 1902, the Town valued Lot 8
in Range 4 at $75 and Lot 8 in Range 5 at $50, and listed
each lot as containing 160 acres. In 1903 and 1904, the Town
valued each lot at $75.
[¶7] In 1903, the Town published a notice
that the two lots would be sold for unpaid taxes on the first
Monday in December at 9:00 a.m. at the old schoolhouse. The
1903 notice was published in the October 21, October 28, and
November 4, 1903, editions of the Farmington
Chronicle. The 1903 notice stated that the owners of the
two lots were " unknown." It also specified that
the lots were Lot 8 in Range 4 and Lot 8 ...