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Dean v. Home Snuggers, Inc.

Superior Court of Maine, Cumberland

April 27, 2018

JOHN DEAN, Plaintiff



          Thomas D. Warren Justice

         Before the court is a motion for summary judgment by plaintiff John Dean.

         Summary Judgment

         Summary judgment should be granted if there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. In considering a motion for summary judgment, the court is required to consider only the portions of the record referred to and the material facts set forth in the parties' Rule 56(h) statements. E.g., Johnson v. McNeil, 2002 ME 99 ¶ 8, 800 A.2d 702. The facts must be considered in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Id. Thus, for purposes of summary judgment, any factual disputes must be resolved against the movant. Nevertheless, when the facts offered by a party in opposition to summary judgment would not, if offered at trial, be sufficient to withstand a motion for judgment as a matter of law, summary judgment should be granted. Rodrigue v. Rodrigue 1997 ME 99 ¶ 8, 694 A.2d 924.


         In this case summary judgment turns on the principle that pro se defendants are required to follow the Maine Rules of Civil Procedure the same as parties represented by attorneys.

         Defendant Home Snuggers Inc. is represented in this action by its president, Mark Walker, who has certified that Home Snuggers is a Maine corporation with five or fewer shareholders and is therefore permitted to represent Home Snuggers in defending this action pursuant to 4 M.R.S. § 807(3)(J).

         Dean's motion for summary judgment includes a statement of material facts (SMF) supported by an affidavit of Dean's counsel asserting that Home Snuggers was served with a set of Interrogatories and a Request for Production of Documents on May 3, 2017. Dean's SMF also asserts that Home Snuggers was served with a Request for Admissions on August 7, 2017. As of December 26, 2017, the date that Dean's motion for summary judgment was filed, Home Snuggers had not responded to the request for admissions and had not responded to the Interrogatories or the Request for Production of Documents.

         The Request for Admissions asked Home Snuggers to admit that it owed commissions totaling $5108.30 and travel expenses totaling $ 8679.00 to Dean. Pursuant to M.R. Civ.P. 36(a) those matters were admitted by Home Snuggers when it failed to serve written answers or objections within 30 days after service.[1]

         In opposition to Dean's motion for summary judgment, Walker on behalf of Home Snuggers did not file an opposing statement of material facts pursuant to M.R.Civ.P. 56(h)(2). However, he filed an objection to the motion, accompanied by a belated response to the request for admissions. In his objection Walker states that as the owner of a small business he is a pro se defendant and cannot afford legal representation. Walker also states that he thought he had satisfied the request for admissions by responding to the complaint.

         Under M.R, Civ.P. 36(b) matters admitted under Rule 36 are conclusively established unless the court "on motion" permits withdrawal of the admission. Walker has not made a motion to withdraw the admissions that resulted from his failure to file a response to the request to admit within 30 days. Moreover, even if the belated responses attached to his objection to summary judgment were deemed to be an implicit motion to relieve Home Snuggers of its failure to respond within 30 days, the court would deny that motion because Home Snuggers, represented by Walker, did not respond to the other discovery propounded by Dean and in most cases has not even attempted to comply with the applicable procedural rules.

         Home Snuggers appears to believe that none of the procedural rules that apply to parties represented by lawyers apply to self-represented parties. However, while some accommodations may be made due to a party's pro se status, the Law Court has consistently ruled that self-represented litigants are afforded no special consideration in procedural matters. Clearwater Artesian Well Co. v. LaGrandeur, 2007 ME 11 ¶ 8, 912 A.2d 1252; Dumont v. Fleet Bank, 2000 ME 197 ¶ 13, 760 A.2d 1049.

         On behalf of Home Snuggers, Walker has (1) failed to respond to interrogatories and document requests, [2] (2) failed to timely respond to requests for admissions, (3) failed to file an opposing statement of material facts to the motion for summary judgment, and (4) failed to file a motion ...

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