ORDER ON PENDING MOTIONS
the court are defendant and counterclaim plaintiff Amber
Mason's motion for partial summary judgment and plaintiff
and counterclaim defendant Walter Scotty Moody's
cross-motion for partial summary judgment. Defendant Mason
seeks a judgment in her favor on count I of her counterclaim
and on counts I, II, III, and IV of plaintiff's
complaint. Plaintiff seeks a judgment in his favor on the
same counts. For the following reasons, defendant Mason's
motion is denied and plaintiff's motion is denied in part
and granted in part.
dispute in this action centers on the ownership of a ledge
located in intertidal land adjacent to separate upland
parcels of land owned by the plaintiff and defendant Mason.
(Def. Mason's Supp'g S.M.F. ¶¶ 4, 6, 7, 27;
Pl.'s Opp'g S.M.F. ¶¶ 4, 6, 7.) On
April 18, 2017, plaintiff filed a complaint against both
defendant Mason and the heirs of Edna O. Rideout and alleged
four causes of action: count I, quiet title; count II,
adverse possession; count III, prescriptive easement; and
count IV, declaratory judgment. On May 4, 2017, defendant
filed an answer and counterclaim and alleged seven causes of
action: count I, declaratory judgment; count II, expungement;
count III, slander of title; count IV, trespass; count VI,
nuisance; count VII, intentional infliction of emotional
distress; and count VIII, punitive damages. On October 2,
2017, default was entered against defendants Heirs of Edna
Rideout. On October 5, 2017, the court dismissed count II of
defendant's counterclaim. On October 23, 2017, defendant
filed an amended counterclaim containing an additional cause
of action: count IX, common law trespass.
February 13, 2018, defendant Mason filed a motion for partial
summary judgment on all of plaintiff's causes of action
as well as count one of her counterclaim, in which she seeks
declaratory relief. On March 12, 2018, plaintiff filed an
opposition to defendant's motion as well as a cross
motion for partial summary judgment on the same counts. On
April 11, 2018, defendant Mason filed a reply to
plaintiff's opposition and an opposition to
plaintiff's cross-motion for summary judgment. On April
24, 2018, plaintiff filed a reply in support of his
cross-motion for summary judgment.
judgment is appropriate if the record reflects that there is
no genuine issue of material fact and the movant is entitled
to a judgment as a matter of law. M.R. Civ. P. 56(c). "A
material fact is one that can affect the outcome of the case,
and there is a genuine issue when there is sufficient
evidence for a fact-finder to choose between competing
versions of the fact." Lougee Conservancy v.
CitiMortgage. Inc., 2012 ME 103, ¶ 11, 48 A.3d 774
(quotation omitted). When reviewing cross-motions for summary
judgment, the court "analyze[s] each motion separately,
giving the opposing party the benefit of any reasonable
inferences that can be drawn from the presented facts."
F.R. Carrol. Inc. v. TD Bank, N.A., 2010 ME 115,
¶ 8, 8 A.3d 646.
Defendant Mason's Counterclaim Count One: Declaratory
plaintiff and defendant Mason request that summary judgment
should be granted in their favor on count one of defendant
Mason's counterclaim, in which she seeks a declaration
that defendant Mason owns the disputed intertidal land.
Plaintiff argues that defendant Mason cannot obtain
declaratory relief because (1) plaintiff has obtained title
by adverse possession and (2) defendant Mason does not hold
record title to the disputed intertidal land. Defendant Mason
argues that (1) her chain of title unambiguously shows that
she is the record title owner of the property and (2)
plaintiff cannot establish a claim for adverse possession
because his and his family's use of the intertidal land
for fishing activities is a permitted public use. The court
first addresses whether defendant Mason has obtained title to
the disputed land by deed.
of the language of a deed ... is a question of law. The
existence and nature of particular boundaries is a question
of law and the location of those boundaries is a question of
fact." Eaton v. Town of Wells, 2000 ME
176.¶ 19, 760 A.2d 232 (internal citation omitted). When
interpreting a deed, the court determines the controlling
intent of the parties from the face of the deed. Snyder
v. Haagen, 679 A.2d 510, 513 (Me. 1996). Parties to a
deed must follow certain rules of law to effectuate their
intent; a failure to do so may result in consequences the
parties did not intend. Hodgdon v. Campbell, 411
A.2d 667, 672 (Me. 1980). One such rule is that "as a
matter of law a deed reference 'by the shore' calls
for a measurement along the contour of the high-water
parties agree that the first deed in defendant's chain of
title, the 1924 Wallace to Rideout deed, included title to
the intertidal land. (Def. Mason's Supp'g S.M.F.
¶ 3; Pl.'s Opp'g S.M.F. ¶ 3; Pl.'s
Supp'g S.M.F. ¶¶ 75-77; Def. Mason's
Opp'g S.M.F. ¶¶ 75-77.) The parties, however,
dispute whether subsequent deeds, beginning with the 1931
Rideout to Blackwell deed, conveyed title to the intertidal
land. (Pl.'s Supp'g S.M.F. ¶¶ 80-81;
Def.'s Opp'g S.M.F. ¶¶ 80- 81.) The Wallace
to Rideout Deed describes the property boundaries as follows:
[b]eginning at an iron bolt in the ledge on said shore;
thence running northerly along said river one
hundred and forty feet (140) an iron rod and oak tree and a
corner; thence westerly ... to another oak tree .. . thence
southerly ... to an iron rod . . . thence easterly . . .
to the shores of New Meadows River and the iron rod
at the point of beginning.
(Pl.'s Supp'g S.M.F. ¶ 76; Barnicle Aff. Ex.
A(i).) The subsequent Rideout to Blackwell deed describes the
property as follows:
[b]eginning at an iron bolt set in the ledge on the shores of
New Meadows River; thence running northerly along the
said shores of the New Meadows River one hundred forty
(140) feet to an iron rod and an oak tree and a corner;
thence westerly ... to another oak tree . . . thence
southerly ... to an iron rod . .. thence easterly to the
shores of said New Meadows River and the iron rod which
is the point of beginning.
(Pl.'s Supp'g S.M.F. ¶ 80; Barnicle Aff. Ex.
A(ii).) All but one of the subsequent deeds use the same
"along the said shores" and "to the
shores" language. (PL's Supp'g S.M.F. ¶ 81;
Barnicle Aff. Ex.'s A(iii)-(v), A(vii)-(x).) The August
13, 1964 deed from Walter Wallace to Beatrice Lucas describes
the lot as "a certain lot or parcel described in
Paragraph 1 of a Warranty Deed from Robert S. Watson to
Walter L. Wallace dated May 23, 1950." (Barnicle Aff.
Ex. A(v).) The May 1950 Watson to Wallace deed uses ...