CONSERVATORSHIP & GUARDIANSHIP OF ANN B. THOMAS
Argued: October 25, 2016
C. Thiem, Esq. (orally), Law Office of Susan C. Thiem,
Lincolnville, appellant pro se.
C. Cohen, Esq. (orally), West Rockport, and Roger L. Hurley,
Esq., Camden, for appellee Alanna Brown
SAUFLEY, C.J., and ALEXANDER, MEAD, GORMAN, JABAR, HTELM. and
In this action for appointment of a guardian and conservator,
the Waldo County Probate Court [Longley, J.) issued
an order imposing sanctions against Attorney Susan C. Thiem,
who represented Ann B. Thomas, the allegedly incapacitated
person, during much of the case. The sanctions order required
Attorney Thiem to pay reasonable expenses, including attorney
fees, based on a finding that she had "unreasonably
interfered" with the proceedings and with the discovery
process in particular. As the sole issue on appeal, Attorney
Thiem contends that the court abused its discretion by
imposing sanctions. Because the court has not yet issued an
order determining any amount that Attorney Thiem would be
required to pay, we dismiss the appeal as interlocutory.
In March 2015, Alanna Brown filed joined petitions in the
Waldo County Probate Court requesting that she be appointed
as guardian and conservator for her mother, Ann B. Thomas.
See 18-A M.R.S. §§ 5-303(a), 5-401 (2016).
The following month, after a pretrial conference, the court
issued a scheduling order establishing deadlines for filing
motions and completing discovery, and setting a hearing date.
A contentious discovery process followed. On Brown's
requests, the court held three telephonic discovery dispute
conferences, see M.R. Civ. P. 26(g)(2),
resulting in several discovery orders. Brown subsequently
filed a motion for sanctions pursuant to M.R. Civ. P. 37(b),
alleging in part that Attorney Thiem had engaged in a pattern
of refusing to cooperate fully in the discovery
process. The court deferred ruling on the sanctions
issue before the final hearing, and directed Brown's
attorney to file an affidavit documenting her
discovery-related fees and expenses. Brown's attorney did
so, claiming fees and expenses totaling $3, 780.80.
The court held a final hearing on the petitions and all
pending motions on July 21, 2015, but the hearing was not
completed that day. On July 23, Attorney Thiem filed a motion
to withdraw based on her assertion that the court had
exhibited prejudice and bias against her. Five days later,
the court granted Attorney Thiem's motion to withdraw
with respect to future representation of Thomas, but denied
the motion with respect to the pending sanctions issue. The
order allowed Attorney Thiem seven days to, among other
things, submit evidence to support her allegations of bias.
Attorney Thiem filed further argument on that issue and also
demanded a full evidentiary hearing on the issue of
In September 2015, after the final day of hearing on the
petitions, where Thomas was represented by new counsel and
Attorney Thiem was not present, the court entered a judgment
denying Brown's petition to be appointed as guardian for
her mother, but granting her petition to be appointed as
conservator. Without further notice or hearing, on January
26, 2016, the court entered a separate order in which the
court "sanction [ed]" Attorney Thiem based on a
finding that she "unreasonably interfered with civil
proceedings" by failing to act in good faith, follow
discovery rules, and comply with court orders. The court
ordered Attorney Thiem "to pay reasonable expenses,
including counsel fees, required by her" misconduct
pursuant to M.R. Civ. P. 37(a)(4) and (d),  but the court did
not specify the amount that Thiem would be required to pay.
The court granted leave for Attorney Thiem to withdraw fully
as counsel, conditioned upon her payment of those
Attorney Thiem filed a motion for additional findings of fact
and for amendment of the order. See M.R. Civ. P.
52(b), 59(e). The court granted the motion, but only to
the extent of directing Brown's attorney to submit an
updated affidavit of expenses and attorney fees. Attorney
Thiem then timely appealed. See 18-A M.R.S. §
1-308 (2016); M.R. App. P. 2(b)(3).
On March 22, 2016, while this appeal was pending, Brown's
attorney filed an updated affidavit claiming $22, 566.66 in
attorney fees and $2, 173.80 in costs that she asserted were
attributable to Attorney Thiem's sanctioned conduct. At
oral argument, the parties stated that the court had not yet