Mills Justice, Superior Court
trial was held on December 4, 2018. Both parties appeared and
were represented by counsel.
amended complaint, plaintiff alleges four causes of action:
in count I, unjust enrichment; in count II, conversion; in
count III, money had and received; and in count IV, fraud,
misrepresentation, and deceit. At the close of
plaintiff's evidence, defendant moved for judgment as a
matter of law on all counts. M.R. Civ. P. 50(d). The court
granted the motion on count IV, fraud, misrepresentation, and
deceit. The court took the motion under advisement on the
remaining three counts. For the following reasons, judgment
as a matter of law is entered on counts I, II, and III in
favor of defendant.
was married to Dominique Stover in June 2008. They had three
children, who are now eleven, seven, and five years old. In
2010, they bought a home in South Portland. They sold that
house on August 17, 2012 and bought a four-unit home in
Westbrook on the same date. (Exs. 4-5.) Defendant was a
stay-at-home mother from 2010 to 2013. They separated in June
2014 and reconciled in late 2014 or early 2015. Mr. Stover
died from a drug overdose in November 2015. His estate was
valued at negative $10, 000.00.
and Mr. Stover were friends. Mr. Stover was a carpenter and
defendant was his office manager. Mr. Stover proposed to
plaintiff a plan to buy a house, repair it, and sell it for a
profit. Plaintiff loaned Mr. Stover $5, 000.00 to research
potential properties to buy. (Ex. 1.) Plaintiff met Mr.
Stover at his home and was presented with a contract, which
Mr. Stover had prepared. (Ex. 2.) Mr. Stover was not a good
businessman so defendant assisted him by typing estimates or
contracts that he prepared. Plaintiff and Mr. Stover signed
the contract and plaintiff wrote and gave a check to Mr.
Stover for $60, 000.00. (Ex. 3.) At trial, plaintiff agreed
that defendant did not sign the contract, made no promises to
plaintiff, and was not involved in the plan to buy, repair,
and sell a house.
Stover called plaintiff and stated Mr. Stover had purchased a
multi-family house in Westbrook, Maine. After the house was
renovated, the Stovers moved in and rented the other units.
Mr. Stover stated he would eventually sell the house but
plaintiff received only $1, 440.00 in cash from Mr. Stover,
plaintiff became worried and filed a lawsuit against Mr.
Stover in 2013. Plaintiff made no allegations against
defendant. (Ex. 9; see also Exs. 12, 15, 36, 45.) In
2014, plaintiff prevailed in the lawsuit and was awarded a
judgment against Mr. Stover in the amount of $63, 560.00,
interest, costs, and 50% of the net proceeds from the sale of
the Westbrook property. (Ex. 15.) Plaintiff received total
payments of $600.00 from Mr. Stover.
January 2016, plaintiff saw a sign in front of the Westbrook
property that indicated the house was under contract.
Plaintiff called his attorney, who stated that the house had
been sold in January 2016 and Mr. Stover had died. Plaintiff
filed a petition against Mr. Stover's estate in Probate
Court. Plaintiff made no allegations against defendant. The
petition was not allowed because the estate was insolvent and
defendant had received nothing from the sale of the Westbrook
property. (Ex. 24.) Defendant's father forgave a secured
loan on the property so it could be sold and he paid Mr.
Stover's funeral expenses. (Ex. 11.) The proceeds from the
sale of the Westbrook property were paid to defendant's
father. (Exs. 17-18.)
name was not on Mr. Stover's Bank of America business or
personal checking accounts. (Exs. 51-52.) They did have a
joint account at Bangor Savings Bank. During trial, evidence
of deposits to, and expenditures for household expenses from,
bank accounts was presented. Mr. Stover managed the
family's finances through an app on his phone. He gave
defendant money to spend and, on occasion, a debit card to
use for family expenses. He specified how the money was to be
spent, generally for food and bills. Defendant went to the
food pantry multiple times for food for the family. She
assumed the money in the accounts that was given to her for
expenses was from Mr. Stover's employment income because
he went to work every day and they filed tax returns.
Defendant was not involved in the family finances and first
reviewed the banking records at her deposition on February 3,
knew that plaintiff loaned Mr. Stover $65, 000.00 to buy,
repair, and sell a house. She did not notice that she was
given additional money for expenses after January 6, 2012.
She does not know what Mr. Stover did with plaintiff's
money. No money was given to her directly from
plaintiff's money, she was not involved in the
transaction, and did not promise to repay the money to
plaintiff. After Mr. Stover's death, defendant learned
for the first time about his lifestyle, including the extent
of his drug use and that he had a girlfriend and a second
considering defendant's Rule 50(d) motion, "the
court can weigh the evidence and assess credibility."
Bartlett v. Lindahl,560 A.2d 563, 564 n.l (Me.
1989). Defendant's testimony that she did not know what
Mr. Stover did with plaintiff's money and she assumed the
money Mr. Stover gave her was from his business income was