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Leclerq v. Smith

Superior Court of Maine, Androscoggin

April 27, 2017

MARGARET LECLERQ and MARGARET LECLERQ Personal Representative of the Estate of Malcolm L. Casey Plaintiffs,
v.
WARREN SMITH, ANGELA SMITH, SCOTT WARD, and CLAYTON TIBBETTS, Defendants.

          ON PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO RECONSIDER AND DEFENDANTS WARREN AND ANGELA SMITH'S MOTION FOR PARTIAL JUDGMENT ON THE PLEADINGS

          MARYGAY KENNEDY JUSTICE

         Presently before the court are (1) Plaintiff's motion to reconsider[1] the court's order granting Defendants Warren and Angela Smith's motion for partial summary judgment and (2) the Smiths' motion for partial judgment on the pleadings.[2] Based on the following, Plaintiff's motion is denied and the Smiths' motion is granted in part and denied in part.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff alleges that, beginning in 2012, the Smiths directed Defendant Tibbetts to cut timber on the Smiths' property, and the harvest encroached significantly on Plaintiff's abutting property. Plaintiff further alleges that the Smiths covered the harvested area with fill and had a drainage and wetland ditch filled and graded. At the time of the Smiths' alleged trespass, Plaintiff was the personal representative of her father's estate, which owned the property Plaintiff now owns. Plaintiff acquired title to the property on January 17, 2014, almost seven months after the Smiths conveyed their property to Defendant Ward on June 24, 2013.

         Plaintiff filed a complaint in her individual capacity on November 18, 2015. In the complaint, Plaintiff alleged: count I, common law trespass; count II, intentional trespass, 14 M.R.S. § 7552; count in, negligent trespass, 14 M.R.S. § 7552; and count IV, trespass damages, 14 M.R.S. § 7551-B.

         On December 7, 2016, the court granted the Smiths' motion for partial summary judgment. In the order, the court determined that Plaintiff had standing to pursue her claims against the Smiths in her capacity as personal representative of her father's estate, but not in her individual capacity. This conclusion was based on the fact that Plaintiff was the personal representative in 2012, and Plaintiff had not raised a genuine issue as to whether the Smiths continued to trespass after she acquired title 2014.

         In the December 7, 2016 order, the court also granted Plaintiff's motion to amend her complaint. Plaintiff's amended complaint brings the same counts as her original complaint, but adds Ms. LeClerc as a Plaintiff in her capacity as personal representative.

         Plaintiff filed her motion to reconsider on December 21, 2016. The Smiths opposed the motion on January 11, 2017 and filed their motion for partial judgment on the pleadings on January 17, 2017. Plaintiff opposed the motion on February 10, 2017. The Smiths replied on February 17, 2017.

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Motion to Reconsider

         a. Standard of Review

         "Motions for reconsideration of an order shall not be filed unless required to, bring to the court's attention an error, omission or new material that could not previously have been presented." M.R. Civ. P. 7(b)(5). The court treats a motion for reconsideration as a motion to alter or amend the judgment. M.R. Civ. P. 59(e). The court does not grant a motion to alter or amend the judgment "unless it is reasonably clear that prejudicial error has been committed or that substantial justice has not been done." Gates v. Farrington, 423 A.2d 539, 541 (Me. 1980).

         b. Analysis

         Plaintiff argues that she has standing to pursue claims against the Smiths in her individual capacity because (1) she is entitled to "tack" the time during which she was personal representative with the time during which she has owned the property, (2) trespass claims run with the land, and (3) she has held an equitable interest in the property since her father's death in 2011, at which time ...


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