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Bank of America, N.A. v. Camire

Supreme Court of Maine

January 26, 2017

BANK OF AMERICA, N.A.
v.
JOHN CAMIRE

          Submitted On Briefs: October 13, 2016

          John Camire, appellant pro se

          Kate E. Conley, Esq., Susan J. Szwed, P.A., Portland, for appellee Bank of America, N.A.

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

          HUMPHREY, J.

         [¶1] John Camire appeals from a judgment of the District Court (Biddeford, Cantara, J.) entered in favor of Bank of America, N.A. (the Bank). The judgment arises out of an outstanding credit card debt. We affirm the judgment in favor of the Bank, but because we conclude that the trial court erred in dismissing Camires counterclaim, we vacate that portion of the judgment and remand the case for further proceedings.

         I. BACKGROUND

         [¶2] On March 24, 2014, FIA Card Services, N.A., initiated this action in the District Court (Biddeford) against John Camire to recover damages totaling $11, 573.40 arising out of a debt incurred using a Bank of America credit card. Camire answered, moved to dismiss the complaint, and asserted various affirmative defenses. He also filed a counterclaim pursuant to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), 15 U.S.C.S. §§ 1692-1692p (LEXIS through Pub. L. No. 114-284); 32 M.R.S. §§ 11001-11054 (2016).[1]

         [¶3] FIA Card Services moved to dismiss the counterclaim and attached an affidavit from its attorney, N. Laine Astbury, to the motion. Attached to the Astbury affidavit was a computer printout from the National Information Center, a website that purportedly maintains data collected by the Federal Reserve about financial institutions. Astbury averred, based on the printout, that FIA Card Services, N.A., acquired Bank of America, N.A., on October 20, 2006. Astbury also averred that the printout was authentic and admissible pursuant to M.R. Evid. 902(5), which provides that books, pamphlets, and official publications "purporting to be issued by a public authority" are self-authenticating.

         [¶4] The court (Cantara, J.) denied Camires motion to dismiss the complaint and granted the motion filed by FIA Card Services to dismiss Camires counterclaim. In granting the motion to dismiss, the court concluded, based on the Astbury affidavit and printout, that FIA Card Services was not a third party collecting the debt, but rather stood in the place of Bank 1 of America, the card issuer that extended credit to Camire, and thus FIA Card Services was exempt from liability pursuant to the Act. [2]

         [¶5] On April 28, 2015, the court (Driscoll, J.) issued an order following a pretrial conference setting the matter for trial and stating that two hours or less would be required. The Bank was substituted as the plaintiff on November 25, 2014.3 The court (Cantara, J.) held a bench trial on November 24, 2015.[3] The trial began at 1:14 p.m. and concluded at 4:55 p.m., running over the two hours allocated, even excluding breaks and recesses. The court reminded Camire of time constraints on numerous occasions during the trial, but allowed proceedings to continue longer than scheduled and beyond the extensions of time for testimony granted by the court during the trial.

         [¶6] The court entered a judgment in favor of the Bank in the amount of $11, 573.40 plus costs. Camire timely appealed.

          II. ...


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