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Akin v. Auburn Water District

Superior Court of Maine, Androscoggin

March 27, 2018

RACHEL B. AKIN, Plaintiff
v.
AUBURN WATER DISTRICT, Defendant.

          ORDER ON MOTIONS TO ENFORCE MEDIATION SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT

          Mary Gay Kennedy, Justice

         Before the Court are Plaintiff Rachel B. Akin ("Akin") and Defendant Auburn Water District's ("AWD") cross-motions to enforce a mediation settlement agreement. A hearing was held on this matter on March 5, 2018. For the following reasons, both parties' motions are denied.

         I. Background

         On August 15, 2016, Akin filed a Complaint alleging AWD has discharged water, water treatment chemicals, and other pollutants onto Akin's property without permission since 2012. (Pl.'s Compl. ¶ 5.) Akin contends the discharge has flooded her property, causing damage to the property and diminishing its value. (Id. ¶ 9.) Plaintiffs Complaint includes counts for statutory and common law trespass, negligence, injunctive relief, and inverse condemnation.

         On May 1, 2017, the parties notified the Court that the matter was fully resolved through mediation on April 24, 2017. The Court approved the parties' agreement by order dated May 19, 2017. However, on October 30, 2017, AWD filed its motion to enforce the settlement agreement. In return, on November 20, 2017, Akin filed her motion to enforce the settlement agreement.

         The full text of the parties' Mediation Settlement Agreement provides as follows:

1) Defendant to pay Plaintiff $20, 000 upon delivery of the signed easement described below.
2) Plaintiff to grant Defendant an easement for the discharge of water in the "new discharge area" as located on the attached map where the southernmost culvert is located.
3) Defendant is to prepare the easement, subject to review of Plaintiff's counsel, including any surveying at its costs.
4) Defendant agrees to submerge the discharge pipe in an appropriate amount of rip rap.
5) Plaintiff will sign a release and dismissal of the pending case with prejudice.

         The map referenced in the agreement is an aerial photograph, marked with lines that are presumably property lines, and notations and hand-drawn -arrows of unknown origin, one of which points to the "new discharge area."

         AWD's motion to enforce generally alleges that following mediation, the parties reached an agreement as to the form and language of the easement and release referenced in the settlement agreement, but Akin unilaterally changed the language of these documents without AWD's consent and then demanded additional monies in return for the execution of AWD's draft of the easement and release. Akin's motion counters that AWD's version of the easement does not comply with the language of the settlement agreement, as it permits AWD to discharge water in areas other than the "new discharge area." Akin further argues that the signed version of the easement drafted by her counsel does comply with the settlement agreement, and she is therefore entitled to a $20, 000 payment from AWD.

         II. Stand ...


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