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Pawlendzio v. Haddow

Supreme Court of Maine

September 20, 2016

FRANK PAWLENDZIO et al.
v.
JON HADDOW

          Argued: April 5, 2016

         On the briefs:

          Jed Davis, Esq., and Aglaia Davis, Esq., Jim Mitchell and Jed Davis, P.A., Augusta, for appellants Frank and Beverly Pawlendzio

          James M. Bowie, Esq., Thompson & Bowie, LLP, Portland, for appellee Jon Haddow

         At oral argument:

          Jed Davis, Esq., for appellants Frank and Beverly Pawlendzio

          James M. Bowie, Esq., for appellee Jon Haddow

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

          JABAR, J.

         [¶1] Frank and Beverly Pawlendzio appeal from an order of the Superior Court (Penobscot County, Anderson, J.) granting summary judgment in favor of Jon Haddow on the Pawlendzios' claim alleging attorney malpractice. Because the record does not present a legally cognizable claim of legal malpractice, we affirm.

         I. FACTS

         [¶2] For fifteen years, Frank Pawlendzio owned and operated Oak Ridge Builders, Inc., a home construction company. Oak Ridge was in business until 2007, when it filed for bankruptcy. Jon Haddow provided legal advice in connection with the bankruptcy proceedings. There is no suggestion that Haddow was negligent in providing advice regarding the corporate bankruptcy in 2007.

         [¶3] While the corporate bankruptcy was pending, Frank decided to build a house in his individual capacity on a parcel of property that he owned with the intent to sell the house ("spec house"] upon completion. Haddow again provided Frank with legal advice concerning the venture. To finance the project, Frank obtained funding from three people: $110, 000 from a longtime friend, Howard Martin; $57, 500 from his elderly father-in-law, Edward King, whose accounts were controlled by Frank's wife, Beverly; and $4, 000 from his brother, Stan Pawlendzio. At the time they were made, all three loans were unsecured.

         [¶4] When the house was substantially completed but before it was sold, Frank learned that he continued to owe a significant amount of money to Oak Ridge's creditors because he had personally guaranteed some debts that were not subject to discharge in the corporate bankruptcy.

         [¶5] Frank consulted Haddow about filing for personal bankruptcy, and because he understood from conversations with Haddow that he could protect his unsecured creditors with mortgages, Frank asked Haddow to prepare after-the-fact mortgages for the three personal lenders. Pursuant to these discussions, Haddow prepared the mortgages. The Pawlendzios subsequently filed for bankruptcy in December 2008, and ...


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