ERIK WEST, KATHLEEN WEST, JOHN PRIDE, and JOANN PRIDE, Plaintiffs,
JEWETT & NOONAN TRANSPORTATION, INC., Defendant.
ORDER ON DEFENDANT'S SECOND MOTION FOR SUMMARY
HORTON JUSTICE, SUPERIOR COURT.
Jewett & Noonan Transportation, Inc.'s Second Motion
for Summary Judgment is before the court, together with
Plaintiffs' opposition and Defendant's reply. The
court elects to decide the Second Motion without oral
argument. See M.R. Civ. P. 7(b)(7).
Second Motion seeks summary judgment on the Plaintiffs'
claims for nuisance and common law strict liability, and on
Plaintiffs request for punitive damages.
underlying facts as well as the standard of review on summary
judgment have been addressed in the court's prior summary
judgment order. However, the Plaintiffs have submitted
evidence that reasonable factfinder could decide was
sufficient to show that persons or entities acting as agents
of the Defendant deliberately misled the Plaintiffs and the
Maine Department of Environmental Protection about their
intentions to clean up the oil spill on Plaintiffs'
property, pretending to engage in cleanup activity, to save
the cost of a full cleanup.
Second Motion contends that it is entitled to summary
judgment on Plaintiffs common law nuisance claim because
Plaintiffs have conceded that Defendant did not intentionally
cause oil to be spilled onto Plaintiffs property. Defendant
is correct that the Plaintiffs have not made a prima facie
showing that Defendant acted intentionally in causing the oil
Maine law does not define intent solely in terms how a
nuisance began-intentionally continuing a nuisance that may
have been created unintentionally can give rise to common law
nuisance liability. The Law Court has said that the intent
element of the common law nuisance tort requires proof that
"the defendant has created or continued the
condition causing the interference with full knowledge that
the harm to the plaintiffs interests are occurring or are
substantially certain to follow. " See Charlton v.
Town of Oxford, 2001 ME 104, ¶37 n.11, 774 A.2d
366, 378; accord, Johnson v. Maine Energy
Recovery Co., Ltd. Partnership, 2010 ME 52, ¶15,
997 A.2d 741, 745 (same).
even if a common nuisance was created unintentionally, the
party responsible for creating it can become liable by
intentionally continuing it, which is exactly what the
Plaintiffs claim the Defendant, acting through agents, did.
Plaintiffs have propounded admissible evidence sufficient to
persuade a reasonable factfinder that Defendant, through
agents, is liable for continuing a substantial interference
Plaintiffs' property. Defendant's Second Motion is
denied as to Plaintiffs' common law nuisance claim.
also seeks summary judgment on Plaintiffs' strict
common law does not impose strict liability except in
connection with what the Second Restatement of Torts terms
"abnormally dangerous activities." The Second
Restatement states the "general principle" as
(1) One who carries on an abnormally dangerous activity is
subject to liability for harm to the person, land or chattels
of another resulting from the activity, although he has
exercised the utmost care to prevent the harm.
(2) This strict liability is limited to the kind of harm, the
possibility of which makes the ...