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Center v. Halliday

Superior Court of Maine, Cumberland

November 10, 2016

ROBERT N. CENTER, as Trustee of the Robert N. Center Living Trust dated December 13, 2007 of Waitsfield, Vermont, et al., Plaintiffs
v.
MALCOLM F. HALLIDAY, Individually and as Trustee under the Halliday Family Trust dated May 18, 2006 of Potomac, Maryland, et al., Defendants

          ORDER ON PLAINTIFFS' MOTION FOR CONTEMPT

          NANCY MILLS, JUSTICE

         Before the court is plaintiffs' motion for contempt filed August 16, 2016. On September 1, 2016, defendants were served with the subpoena for the hearing on plaintiffs' motion. The hearing was held on September 21, 2016.[1] Plaintiffs appeared and were represented by Attorney Metcalf. Defendants appeared and represented themselves. For the following reasons, the court finds by clear and convincing evidence that defendant Malcolm Halliday is in contempt of the terms of the 2011 stipulated judgment.

         Background

         Plaintiffs allege defendants have violated the terms of the stipulated judgment agreed to by the parties and signed by the parties' attorneys and a Superior Court justice on April 29, 2011. (Pls.' Ex. 2; Tr. of April 29, 2011 Hr'g.) The stipulated judgment resolved plaintiffs' 2010 complaint against defendants, in which plaintiffs sought, among other things, a declaratory judgment with regard to easements and boundaries pertaining to the parties' adjoining properties. (Com pl. Counts I, II, IV, V; Pls.' Ex. 1.)

         The stipulated judgment provides, in relevant part:

Plaintiffs' land described in paragraph 1 is burdened by an easement for the right of ingress and egress across the existing gravel road, in the path, route and width of that existing gravel road as depicted on the Standard Boundary Survey [the Plan] . . . This easement is solely for the purpose of ingress and egress, by pedestrian and vehicular means, and does not include the right to park or store anything on any of the land of the Plaintiffs for any length of time.
The Defendants, individually and as Trustees, their agents, servants, employees, representatives, guests and invitees, and successors in title and those that act in concert with them are hereby PERMANENTLY ENJOINED from parking or storing anything on the Plaintiffs' property as described in paragraph 1 hereof and when exercising their easement rights of ingress and egress they are further PERMANENTLY ENJOINED from deviating from the path, route, and width of the graveled right of way as depicted on the face of the earth as shown on the Plan and the tax map as attached to the complaint as Exhibit C.
The Plan depicts a Path to Shore which is a pedestrian pathway. It is hereby found that the Plaintiffs have the right to use and maintain that pedestrian pathway without disturbance, interference or disruption.
The Defendants, individually and as Trustees, their agents, servants, employees, representatives, guests and invitees, and successors in title and those that act in concert with them are hereby PERMANENTLY ENJOINED from altering or disturbing the pedestrian pathway and its components and from interfering with or obstructing the use of the pedestrian pathway by the Plaintiffs, their guests, invitees, agents, employees, servants, attorneys, and successors in interest.

(Pls.' Ex. 2 ¶¶ 3, 6, 10, 11.) Plaintiffs now allege defendants have violated the terms of the permanent injunction by (1) parking their vehicle on plaintiffs' property; (2) trespassing on plaintiffs' property by moving a compost pile, dumping plaintiffs' flower pots and planters, throwing the planters into the woods, defacing landscaping rocks and fence posts across plaintiffs' property, and leaving notes on plaintiffs' car; and (3) erecting blockades to prohibit plaintiffs' use of their path to the shore. (Pls.' Mot. 4-8.) Plaintiffs seek remedial sanctions, including compensatory and coercive fines, coercive imprisonment, and attorneys' fees. M.R. Civ. P. 66(d)(3).

         Findings of Fact

         Within days of the signing of the stipulated judgment, defendant Malcolm Halliday parked his car on plaintiffs' property and trespassed on plaintiffs' property. (Pls.' Ex. 3; Pls.' Ex. 2 ¶ 3.) Plaintiffs have never given defendants permission to enter plaintiffs' property in violation of the terms of the stipulated judgment. In July or August 2011, defendant Malcolm Halliday trespassed again on plaintiffs' property and, in a fit of rage, dumped plaintiffs' flower pots. (Pls.' Ex. 2 ¶ 6.) Plaintiffs contacted defendants' attorney, who wrote to defendants and reminded them about the terms of the stipulated judgment and the conduct the stipulated judgment prohibited. (Pls.' Ex. 4.) Again in 2011, defendant Malcolm Halliday trespassed on plaintiffs' property. (Pls.' Ex. 3 7; Pls.' Ex. 2 ¶ 6.)

         In the spring of 2012, plaintiffs tried to delineate defendants' right of way with landscaping based on the survey. (Pls.' Ex. 2 ¶ 3.) A surveyor visited the property to ensure the boundaries were correct.[2] Notwithstanding, defendant Malcolm Halliday trespassed on plaintiffs' property and painted plaintiffs' landscaping rocks and fence posts, which were not located in defendants' easement. (Pls.' Ex. 5; Pls.' Ex. 2 ¶ 6.) Plaintiffs understood a deputy sheriff spoke to defendants about the rocks and fence posts. Defendant Malcolm Halliday admitted at the hearing he painted trees on plaintiffs' property with yellow paint. (Pls.' Exs. 12, 13.)

         On September 8, 2016, plaintiff Henry was standing on plaintiffs' property near the boundary line, several feet from the fence. (Pls.' Ex. 13.) Defendant Malcolm Halliday trespassed on plaintiffs' property by driving his car on plaintiffs' property at a fast pace toward plaintiff Henry. (Pls.' Ex. 2 ¶ 6.) Plaintiff Henry was fearful and stepped to the side. Also on September 8, 2016, both defendants approached plaintiffs and told them to get off defendants' property; plaintiffs were on their own property at the time. ...


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