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Montgomery v. Eaton Peabody, LLP

Supreme Judicial Court of Maine

March 29, 2016

R. BRUCE MONTGOMERY et al.
v.
EATON PEABODY, LLP et al

         Submitted on Briefs November 19, 2015.

         On the briefs:

          Jed Davis, Esq., Jim Mitchell and Jed Davis, P.A., Augusta, for appellants R. Bruce Montgomery and Wanda Haddock.

         Eben M. Albert, Esq., and Daniel J. Mitchell, Esq., Bernstein Shur, Portland, for appellees Eaton Peabody, LLP and William V. Ferdinand Jr.

         Wendell G. Large, Esq., and Heidi J. Hart, Esq., Richardson, Whitman, Large & Badger, for appellee Clifford H. Goodall.

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

          OPINION

Page 107

          MEAD, J.

          [¶1] R. Bruce Montgomery and Wanda Haddock (collectively, Montgomery) appeal from a judgment of the Superior Court (1) granting Judy A.S. Metcalf and William V. Ferdinand Jr.'s (collectively, the Eaton Peabody attorneys) motion to dismiss multiple counts of Montgomery's complaint for legal malpractice, and (2) denying Montgomery's motion for leave to file a third amended complaint. We affirm the judgment.

Page 108

          I. BACKGROUND

          [¶2] In 1960, Montgomery's parents purchased seven shorefront lots of land in Georgetown, numbered thirty-seven through forty-three on a 1935 subdivision plan recorded in the Sagadahoc County Registry of Deeds. In 1974, Georgetown adopted a Shoreland Zoning Ordinance (SZO), which applied to properties located within 250 feet of the normal high water line, including the Montgomery lots. The SZO created requirements that all buildings in the zone be set back a certain distance from the normal high water line, and that lots created in the zone have an area of at least 20,000 square feet. However, properties that predated the effective date of the ordinance were considered " grandfathered" or " nonconforming lots of record" and accordingly were exempt from the requirements of the SZO.

          [¶3] When the SZO was adopted in 1974, a single-family residence spanned lots thirty-seven, thirty-eight, and thirty-nine, and a studio was located on the remaining lots. The lots were under the common ownership of Montgomery's parents from 1960 until 1975, when Montgomery's parents executed the first of a series of conveyances between themselves individually and later to Montgomery and his siblings. The 1975 conveyance partitioned lots thirty-seven and thirty-eight from the others, resulting in a property that was less than 20,000 square feet. In 1999, lots thirty-seven and thirty-eight were conveyed to Montgomery.

          [¶4] In 2004, the Georgetown Planning Board granted Montgomery one building permit for two distinct projects on the property: the expansion of the principal structure and the addition of a garage as a new accessory structure. While construction of the garage was underway, the Georgetown code enforcement officer determined that the structure was not being built according to the specifications in the permit and that ...


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