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Estate of Barron v. Shapiro & Morley LLC

Supreme Court of Maine

March 16, 2017

ESTATE OF JOHN R. BARRON
v.
SHAPIRO & MORLEY, LLC, et al.

          On Briefs: February 10, 2017

          Mark A. Kearns, Esq., and Mark L. Randall, Esq., Portland, for appellant Estate of John R. Barron.

          Adam J. Shub, Esq., Preti Flaherty Beliveau & Pachios, LLP, Portland, for appellee JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A.

          Joshua D. Hadiaris, Esq., Norman, Hanson & DeTroy, LLC, Portland, for appellee Shapiro & Morley, LLC.

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

          ALEXANDER, J.

         [¶1] The Estate of John R. Barron appeals from a summary judgment entered in the Superior Court (York County, Douglas, J.) in favor of Shapiro & Morley, LLC, and JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A., on a complaint filed by John R. Barron, [1] alleging conversion, intentional infliction of emotional distress, unfair trade practices, and civil conspiracy. Barron's claims arose out of alleged delays in the distribution of surplus funds following the sale of Barron's home after a foreclosure. We affirm the judgment.

         I. CASE HISTORY

         [¶2] The summary judgment record contains the following facts taken from the parties' statements of material fact that were admitted or not properly objected to by Barron, the opposing party. See Murdock v. Thome, 2016 ME 41, ¶ 2, 135 A.3d 96. In addition, Barron's brief on appeal states that "[t]he 'Facts' are recited by the Trial Court in its March 25, 2016 Decision and Order, " apparently accepting the facts stated by the trial court, but disagreeing with its legal conclusions.

         [¶3] Shapiro & Morley, a South Portland law firm, represented JPMorgan Chase Bank in a foreclosure action against John R. Barron in the District Court (Springvale). On July 19, 2013, the District Court issued a judgment in favor of Chase and against Barron in the foreclosure action. Barron failed to redeem the property during the 180-day redemption period stated in the foreclosure judgment. Chase, by and through its counsel, Shapiro & Morley, published notice of the public sale of the subject property.

         [¶4] On March 6, 2014, a foreclosure sale was held. At the sale, the high bidder made a bid of $160, 000 and signed a purchase and sale agreement with Chase. Chase and the high bidder extended the original closing date by agreement. On July 16, 2014, the closing occurred, and the high bidder paid the $155, 000 balance for the purchase of the property. The sale proceeds were deposited into Shapiro & Morley's client trust account.

         [¶5] On July 31, 2014, Shapiro & Morley sent Chase a check for $118, 178.49, representing Chase's portion of the sale proceeds. Soon thereafter, Barron sought distribution of the surplus to him. However, Shapiro & Morley, as is its custom, does not disburse surplus funds to a third party, such as Barron, until expiration of the statutory thirty-day objection period after the filing of the report of sale required by 14 M.R.S. § 6324 (2016). The purpose of the delayed final distribution is to allow any interested party an opportunity to object to the report of sale. When Shapiro & Morley failed to comply with his demands, Barron sent a notice of intent to file a claim for unfair trade practices.

         [¶6] Shapiro & Morley filed the report of sale on September 9, 2014. The report of sale stated that the surplus of $41, 820.94 would be disbursed to Barron upon the expiration of the objection period following the filing of the report of sale or upon a waiver of objection by Barron.

         [¶7] On October 9, 2014, the last day of the objection period, Barron filed in the District Court foreclosure action a motion objecting to the report of sale. The motion sought a ninety-day discovery period to examine "inherently untrustworthy claims" and unspecified errors in the report of sale and sought an evidentiary hearing to challenge the report of sale. The Superior Court's decision indicates that Barron was claiming entitlement to approximately $3, 000 in addition to the funds indicated as due to him in the report of sale. There is no indication in the record before the Superior Court ...


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