Argued: September 14, 2017
L. Ferris, Esq., and Mariann Z. Malay, Esq., Gross, Minsky
& Mogul, PA, Bangor, and N. Laurence Willey, Jr., Esq.
(orally), Willey Law Offices, Bangor, for appellant Jay
Jeffrey T. Edwards, Esq., Preti, Flaherty, Beliveau &
Pachios, LLP, Portland, and Myles W. McDonough, Esq.
(orally), and Ryan B. MacDonald, Esq., Sloane and Walsh, LLP,
Boston, Massachusetts, for appellees Emera Maine and Hawkeye,
SAUFLEY, C.J., and ALEXANDER, MEAD, GORMAN, JABAR, HJELM, and
Jay McLaughlin allowed Emera Maine access to certain roads on
his property in Greenbush in order to enable Emera and its
agents to rebuild an electrical transmission line. At the
conclusion of that work, McLaughlin alleged that his property
had been damaged in the process and that Emera had not
sufficiently repaired the damage. McLaughlin filed claims
against Emera and its contractor, Hawkeye, LLC, seeking
several million dollars in damages at trial. The court
[Horton, J.) entered a judgment in the Business and
Consumer Docket awarding McLaughlin $66, 866.36, including
attorney fees and costs. McLaughlin appealed, and Emera and
Hawkeye cross-appealed. Subject to a modification of the
court's award of McLaughlin's attorney fees, we
affirm the judgment.
In exchange for $31, 600, Jay McLaughlin granted Emera
temporary rights of access over some of the roads on his
approximately 3, 200-acre property in Greenbush. Emera and
Hawkeye needed that access in order to rebuild an electrical
transmission line that crossed McLaughlin's property. The
parties agreed that Emera would be responsible to effectuate
any repairs "beyond normal wear and tear" that
occurred as a result of the transmission line rebuild.
Hawkeye and a subcontractor completed substantial repair work
on McLaughlin's property. McLaughlin alleged, however,
that those repairs were insufficient and that Emera and
Hawkeye failed to repair damage to the surrounding land,
culverts, roads, trees, and vegetation that Emera and Hawkeye
McLaughlin filed a complaint against Emera and Hawkeye,
alleging breach of contract, negligence, and statutory and
common law trespass. Emera filed a cross-claim against
Hawkeye seeking indemnification, including attorney fees and
costs, pursuant to an indemnification provision in a
supplier-of-choice agreement governing their relationship.
McLaughlin's complaint was originally filed in Penobscot
County on October 7, 2013. After a series of delays, the case
was transferred to the Business and Consumer Docket. The
record reflects a lengthy discovery period and extremely
contentious litigation. The trial consumed eight days. The
court took a view of the property. Following trial, the
parties filed a total of 184 pages of proposed findings of
fact and conclusions of law, including responses.
At the conclusion of the trial, the court found that
McLaughlin had failed to present sufficient or persuasive
evidence regarding the extent of the damages to his property.
It entered a judgment in favor of McLaughlin on his complaint
against Emera and Hawkeye, jointly and severally, in the
amount of $44, 866.36 in damages. This amount comprised $20,
000 on the breach of contract claim, $22, 000 on the
negligence claim, and $2, 866.36 on the trespass claim
pursuant to 14 M.R.S. § 7552 (2016). The court also
awarded McLaughlin $20, 000 in attorney fees and $2, 000 in
costs. McLaughlin appealed the judgment. Emera and Hawkeye
cross-appealed, arguing that the court erred in its award of
attorney fees to McLaughlin because it applied the incorrect
version of 14 M.R.S. § 7552.
On Emera's indemnification claim against Hawkeye, the
court found in favor of Emera in the entire amount of the
judgment in favor of McLaughlin, $66, 866.36. Indicative of
the contentious nature of this litigation, the court also
found that Hawkeye was liable to Emera for attorney fees and
costs totaling $409, 978.46. Emera and Hawkeye each appealed
this award. However, by stipulation of both parties prior to
oral argument in this case, those appeals have been
dismissed. See M.R. App. P. 4(a)(3).
Thus, before us are McLaughlin's appeal, in which he
asserts that the court erred in its damages findings, in its
finding that McLaughlin gave permission for the use and
improvement of the spur road on his property, and in its
interpretation of 14 M.R.S. § 7551-B (2016); and ...