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Savell v. Duddy

Supreme Court of Maine

September 1, 2016

DAVID L. SAVELL
v.
MICHAEL A. DUDDY, et al.

          Date of Argued: June 8, 2016

         Business and Consumer Docket docket number CV-2014-34

         On the briefs

          Barry K. Mills, Esq., Hale & Hamlin, LLC, Ellsworth, for appellant David L. Savell

          James M. Bowie, Esq., and Hillary J. Bouchard, Esq., Thompson & Bowie, LLP, Portland, for appellees Michael A. Duddy and Kelly, Remmel & Zimmerman

         At oral argument:

          Barry K. Mills, Esq., for appellant David L. Savell

          James M. Bowie, Esq., for appellees Michael A. Duddy and Kelly, Remmel & Zimmerman Business and Consumer Docket docket number CV-2014-34 For Clerk Reference Only

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

          MEAD, J.

         [¶1] David L. Savell appeals from a summary judgment entered in the Business and Consumer Docket (Cumberland County, Horton, J.) in favor of attorney Michael A. Duddy and the law firm of Kelly, Remmel & Zimmerman on Savell's complaint alleging attorney malpractice and a breach of fiduciary duty. On appeal, Savell contends that the court erred in concluding that he failed to adduce prima facie evidence of an attorney-client relationship between himself and Duddy. We affirm the judgment.

         I. BACKGROUND

         [¶2] Viewing the summary judgment record in the light most favorable to the nonprevailing party, the record contains the following facts. Estate of Smith v. Salvesen, 2016 ME 100, ¶ 2, - A.3d -. Savell was the chief executive officer of Sunbury Primary Care, P.A. [SPC], a medical practice in Bangor with three shareholders: Drs. Michael B. Bruehl, Kenneth G. Simone, and Thomas D. Hayward (the doctors]. Savell was also a manager of Sunbury Medical Properties, LLC [SMP], whose sole business was owning and managing the real estate where SPC was located. Michael A. Duddy is an attorney licensed to practice in the State of Maine and is associated with the Portland law firm of Kelly, Remmel & Zimmerman [KRZ].

         [¶3] Savell had no ownership interest in SPC, but had a one-fourth "economic interest" in SMP. As a holder of an economic interest in SMP, Savell's status was essentially the same as "members" of SMP, with the principal difference being that Savell lacked the right to participate in the management of the company and lacked the right to vote. Like members, Savell's interest in SMP included an agreement by which he guaranteed payment of one-fourth of certain secured debts owed by SMP to a bank, on which the three doctors were also guarantors.

         [¶4] From early February 2013 until mid-August 2013, Savell, on behalf of both SPC and SMP, and with the doctors' approval, negotiated with Eastern Maine Medical Center for the sale of the SPC practice and SMP's real estate (where SPC was located]. On August 12, 2013, the shareholders of SPC and members of SMP tentatively agreed to sell both entities to EMMC for a total purchase price of $4, 600, 000-$1, 000, 000 for the SPC practice and $3, 600, 000 for SMP's real estate. EMMC was represented by the Eaton Peabody law firm at all relevant times.

         [¶5] After the tentative agreement was reached in mid-August, SMP and SPC retained the services of Duddy and the KRZ law firm to represent their interests in the transaction. Savell had less involvement in the negotiations after Duddy became involved, but continued to act in his capacity as CEO of SPC and manager of SMP throughout the remainder of the negotiations and closing.

         [¶6] KRZ and SPC entered into an attorney/client relationship in 1999, and the firm, through Duddy, undertook legal representation of SMP as well in 2005. KRZ's representation of each entity was not detailed in any fee agreement or letter of representation, other than a letter dating back to 1999 when KRZ first started representing SPC. That letter, however, was limited to the six-month period following its transmittal, at which point the parties would then decide ...


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