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Monroe v. Chatmas

Superior Court of Maine

March 23, 2016

JEFFREY W. MONROE & LINDA S. MONROE, Plaintiffs,
v.
CARMEN CHATMAS & IMAD KHALIDI, Defendants, and MARIA C. RINALDI Party-In-Interest LARRY D. AMBERGER & JANET K. AMBERGER et al, Plaintiffs,
v.
IMAD KHALIDI, CARMEN CHATMAS & MARIA C. RINALDI Defendants GEORGE W. FOLEY, III, Plaintiff
v.
IMAD KHALIDI, CARMEN CHATMAS & MARIA C. RINALDI, Defendants

          ORDER ON PLAINTIFFS' JOINT MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          A.M. HORTON JUSTICE.

         The Plaintiffs in these consolidated cases have moved for summary judgment against the Defendants. In their joint motion, Plaintiffs assert that the notices that the Defendants recorded in Cumberland County Registry of Deeds and served on Plaintiffs pursuant to the Maine Paper Streets Act, 23 M.R.S. § 3033, were premature and insufficient, and therefore void, as a matter of law. Defendants oppose Plaintiffs' joint motion. Oral argument was held on March 21, 2016.

         Based on the entire record, Plaintiffs' joint motion for summary judgment is granted.

         I. Background

         In 1911, the Shore Acres Land Company recorded with the Cumberland County Registry of Deeds, at Book 12, Page 45, a plan for the Shore Acres subdivision in the Town of Cape Elizabeth (the "1911 Plan"). (Pls. Supp. S.M.F. ¶ 1; Defs. Opp. S.M.F. ¶ 1; Neagle Aff. Ex. 1.) A second subdivision plan, which Plaintiffs aver was an "amendment" to the 1911 Plan, was recorded in 1930 at Book 19, Page 45 (the "1930 Plan"). (Pls. Supp. S.M.F. ¶ 3; Neagle Aff. Ex. 2.)

         The 1911 Plan shows an unlabeled way, which connects two other ways, Surf Side Avenue and Oak Grove Road. (Neagle Aff. Ex. 1.) The unlabeled subdivision way depicted on the 1911 Plan crosses over lots 10, 11, 12, and 13. (Id.) Lots 10 through 13 are owned by Defendants. (Defs. Opp. S.M.F. ¶¶ 60-62; Stier Aff. Ex. A.) Both the unlabeled subdivision way and the way labeled as Surf Side Avenue are "paper streets, " meaning dedicated but unconstructed and unaccepted ways shown on a subdivision plan, but not existing as streets on the face of the earth.

         Plaintiffs assert that the Unlabeled subdivision way depicted on the 1911 Plan is actually a portion of Surf Side Avenue. (Pls. Sup. S.M.F. ¶ 2.) Plaintiffs also assert that, sometime around 1999, this portion of Surf Side Avenue was renamed Atlantic Place in order to clarify emergency response addresses. (Pls. Supp. S.M.F. ¶¶ 2, 11.) Defendants deny that the unlabeled portion was ever part of Surf Side Avenue, and assert that part or all of Atlantic Place consists of a private driveway that Defendants Imad Khalidi and Maria C. Rinaldi use to access their respective homes. (Defs. Opp. S.M.F. ¶ 2.)

         In 2014, Defendants Carmen Chatmas and Imad Khalidi invoked the procedure contained in the Maine Paper Streets Act ["the Act"], in order to extinguish any interests that other owners of lots in their subdivision might have in the unlabeled way, pursuant to 23 M.R.S. § 3033.

         Under the Act, to extinguish the interests of other lot owners in the subdivision, a person claiming ownership of a paper street must record a notice at the registry of deeds. Id. § 3033(1). The notice must include the names of all current owners of lots in the subdivision plan and their mortgagees. Id. The person claiming ownership of the paper street must also mail a copy of the notice to all record owners and their mortgagees. Id. Any owners of lots in the subdivision who claim an interest in the paper street must record with the registry of deeds a sworn statement asserting their interest within one year of receiving the notice and must bring an action to quiet title within 180 days of recording their statement in order to protect their interest. Id. § 3033(2). Otherwise, the owners of lots in the subdivision are forever barred from asserting any interest in the paper street. Id.

         On March 20, 2014, Defendant Carmen Chatmas recorded a notice pursuant to section 3033(1) at the Cumberland County Registry of Deeds, at Book 31398, Page 109. Defendant Chatmas recorded a second notice on May 12, 2014, at Book 31496, Page 193. On May 13, 2014, Defendant Khalidi also recorded a notice pursuant to section 3033 with the Cumberland County Registry of Deeds, at Book 31498, Page 199. (Chatmas's and Khalidi's notices are collectively referred to as "section SOSS(l) notices"). The notices were sent to all owners and mortgagees of lots in the 1911 Plan.[1]

         The notices claim that the Defendants own portions of the unlabeled way shown on the 1911 Plan. Each notice defines the proposed unaccepted way in an attached and incorporated Exhibit 1 to the notice, and defines the portion of the way that is the subject of the notice in an attached and incorporated Exhibit 2 to the notice. (Neagle Aff. Exs 8, 9.)

         On April 23, 2015, Plaintiff Jeffrey Monroe recorded two sworn affidavits pursuant to 23 M.R.S. § 3033(2), asserting interests in the portions of the unlabeled way described in Defendants' notices. Plaintiffs Jeffrey and Linda Monroe filed a complaint seeking a declaratory judgment of adverse possession and to quiet title on September 9, 2015. The Monroes filed an amended complaint on November 4*, 2015.

         Plaintiffs Larry and Janet Amberger and thirty-five other owners of lots in the subdivision also recorded sworn affidavits pursuant to section 3033(2). The Ambergers and other lot owners filed their complaint to quiet title and for adverse possession on October 27, 2015.

         On May 11, 2015, Plaintiff George Foley, III, as trustee and personal representative of Margaret Foley, also recorded a sworn affidavit pursuant to section 3033(2), and he filed a complaint seeking to quiet title and for declaratory judgment on October 29, 2015.

         On November 30, 2015, Mr. Foley filed a motion to consolidate the three separate cases pursuant to Maine Rule of Civil Procedure 42. Plaintiffs then filed their joint motion for summary judgment on December 16, 2015. After an enlargement of time, Defendants filed their opposition the motion for summary on January 13, 2016. The court granted the motion to consolidate on January 15, 2016. After additional time, Plaintiffs filed a reply on January 27, 2016. Defendants also sought leave to file a surreply, which Plaintiffs opposed.[2]

         II. Analysis

         Plaintiffs assert that they are entitled to summary judgment because Defendants' section 30SS(l) notices were void for two reasons: (l) the proposed, unaccepted way referred to in Defendants' section 3033 has not "deemed vacated" pursuant to 23 M.R.S. § 3032; and (2) Defendants failed to serve their ...


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