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Theobald Trust v. Littlefield

Superior Court of Maine, Waldo

December 16, 2016

THE THEOBALD TRUST, et al Plaintiffs
DAVID LITTLEFIELD, et al Defendants and BANGOR SAVINGS BANK Party-In-Interest


         This matter came before the Court for trial on October 5, 2016. The issues identified in the Plaintiffs' Complaint and in the Court's pretrial order dated April 6, 2016 were addressed during the course of the trial. In addition, the issues raised in the Party-in-Interest's Crossclaim were also presented to the Court for its determination.

         Defendants Myles Gardner and Juanita Littlefield appeared at the trial. Defendant David Littlefield failed to appear at the trial, and had previously also failed to appear during earlier pretrial conferences. [1]

         Based upon the evidence presented at trial, the Court makes the following factual findings.

         Plaintiffs Kenneth and Pamela Theobald are Co-Trustees of The Theobald Trust, (hereinafter referred to as "the Trust").[2] The Trust became the owner of a certain parcel of land in Brooks, Maine on or about November 30, 1998 through a conveyance by warranty deed from the Plaintiffs, Kenneth and Pamela Theobald.

         On or about April 2, 2014 the Trust entered into a land installment contract with the named defendants, David Littlefield, Juanita Littlefield (known as Juanita Gardiner at the time), and Myles Gardiner with regard to the same premises located in Brooks Maine.[3] At the time the Contract was signed, the Defendants paid the Plaintiffs $10, 000 as a payment toward the total purchase price of $199, 000. Under the terms of the Contract, the Defendants were to pay monthly installment payments in the amount of $1000 toward the purchase price, as well as additional monthly payments of $200 toward real estate taxes and $141 for insurance premiums. The Defendants were also solely responsible for payment of any and all utilities for the premises.

         The Contract also contained a provision prohibiting either the buyer or seller from permitting any lien or encumbrance to be placed on the premises. The Contract specifically identified the mortgage, in the then current amount of approximately $129, 700, held by Party-in-Interest, Bangor Savings Bank as an existing encumbrance on the premises, but further indicated that the seller was aware of no other encumbrance on the property.

         Although the Contract identifies the mortgage held by Bangor Savings Bank, Bangor Savings Bank was not informed of the Contract by the Plaintiffs at the time it was entered into with the Defendants, or at any time until well after the pending Complaint in this matter had been initiated. Moreover, the Plaintiffs failed to record the Contract with the Registry of Deeds in accordance with 33 MRSA §482(2). The Court finds that such conduct on the Plaintiffs' part violated the provisions of the mortgage (Interveners Exhibit 3) and reasonably required Bangor Savings Bank to formally intervene to protect its interest in the property in accordance with specific Uniform Covenants outlined in the mortgage.

         The Court finds that Bangor Savings Bank incurred reasonable attorney's fees in intervening and protecting its interests in this matter in the total amount of $1362.96.

         The Plaintiffs failed to timely pay the property taxes due on the premises at issue in this case which led to the recording of a tax lien by the Town of Brooks.[4] At about the same time the Defendants became aware of the existence of the Town's tax lien in January 2015, the Defendants ceased making installment payments to the Plaintiffs in accordance with the Contract. Although the details regarding the subsequent arrangements between the Plaintiffs and the Town relating to outstanding tax liabilities are not entirely clear, the Town has not proceeded with any municipal foreclosure of the premises. The Plaintiffs entered into some satisfactory agreement with the municipality with respect to the payment of the taxes due.

         Despite the subsequent arrangements between the Plaintiffs and the Town of Brooks regarding satisfaction of the outstanding tax liabilities, the Defendants did not resume with their installment payments to the Plaintiffs. The evidence was not disputed that the Defendants have failed to make any installment payments to the Plaintiffs since January 2015. The unpaid monthly installment payment of $1000 plus the additional $200 payment reflecting the real estate tax contribution for the 22 months from January 2015 through to the date of trial would total $26, 400.[5]

         Defendant Juanita Littlefield has continued to reside at the premises at least through the time of trial. The evidence would suggest that Defendant David Littlefield had abandoned the premises long before the trial in this matter. Defendant Juanita Littlefield and Myles Gardiner were divorced subsequent to entering into the Contract, and it is not clear whether Defendant Myles Gardiner continued to reside at the premises.

         The photographs introduced into evidence demonstrate that the premises, at least with regard to certain rooms and the porch area had been subjected to a considerable amount of trash and debris. The Court was not presented with sufficiently specific evidence regarding damage or disrepair to the premises, or the amount which might be required to address any such claims.

         The Court finds that the Plaintiffs have incurred reasonable attorney's fees in pursuit of its foreclosure Complaint ...

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