PAMELA A. DENUTTE
U.S. BANK, N.A.
Argued: February 5, 2019
Meredith C. Eilers, Esq. (orally), Michael R. Bosse, Esq.,
and Daniel J. Mitchell, Esq., Bernstien Shur, Portland, for
appellant Pamela A. Denutte
M. Brochin, Esq. (orally), Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP,
Miami, Florida, and Jeff Goldman, Esq., Morgan, Lewis &
Bockius LLP, Boston, Massachusetts, for appellee U.S. Bank,
ALEXANDER, MEAD, GORMAN, JABAR, HJELM, and HUMPHREY, JJ.
After borrowing money from a financial institution and
executing a mortgage to secure the loan, Pamela A. Denutte
fully performed her obligations arising from the transaction.
She alleges that despite her performance, U.S. Bank,
N.A.-the servicer of the mortgage-did not fulfill
its statutory duty when it came time for the
mortgage to be discharged. See 33 M.R.S. § 551
(2018). She filed a complaint against U.S. Bank based on that
alleged statutory violation, but, on motion filed by U.S.
Bank, the Business and Consumer Docket [Murphy, J.)
dismissed the complaint as time-barred. Denutte appeals from
that judgment, which we now affirm.
In her complaint, Denutte alleged the following facts, which
we treat as admitted for the purpose of determining whether
the allegations state a viable claim for relief. See
Sabina v. ]PMorgan Chase Bank, N.A., 2016 ME 141,
In December of 2008, Denutte obtained a loan from Merrimack
Mortgage Company, Inc. Denutte's promise to satisfy her
loan obligations was secured by a mortgage encumbering real
property she owned in South Portland. After Denutte fully
performed her obligations, Merrimack discharged the mortgage
by executing a written release dated May 17, 2013. U.S. Bank,
acting as the servicer of Merrimack's mortgage-secured
loans, recorded the release in the Cumberland County Registry
of Deeds. The recording was timely as measured by 33 M.R.S.
§ 551, which requires a mortgagee to record a written
release of a mortgage "[w]ithin 60 days after full
performance of the conditions of the mortgage." On June
6, 2013, the registry mailed the original recorded mortgage
release to U.S. Bank, and U.S. Bank received the recorded
instrument no later than three business days later. In early
September of 2013- approximately three months after it
received the original recorded mortgage release back from the
registry-U.S. Bank mailed the release to Denutte.
Four years later, on September 27, 2017, Denutte filed a
complaint in the Superior Court (Cumberland County) alleging
that U.S. Bank had violated another portion of 33 M.R.S.
§ 551-the mailing obligation, which requires a
mortgagee to mail the original recorded mortgage
release to the mortgagor within thirty days after the
mortgagee receives the recorded release back from the
registry of deeds. See Sabina, 2016 ME 141, ¶
9, 148 A.3d 284. In her complaint, Denutte asserted that,
because of the statutory violation, U.S. Bank is liable to
her as the statute provides-for "exemplary damages"
of $500 and her reasonable attorney fees and costs.
The case was transferred to the Business and Consumer Docket,
and soon after, in December of 2017, U.S. Bank moved to
dismiss Denutte's complaint as time-barred and therefore
failing to state a claim upon which relief may be granted,
see M.R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). In its motion, U.S. Bank
contended that Denutte's claim for a violation of section
55l's mailing obligation was subject to and barred by the
one-year statute of limitations provided in 14 M.R.S. §
858 (2018) for "[a]ctions for any penalty or forfeiture
on a penal statute." Denutte responded that the
statutory mailing obligation is remedial rather than penal
and is therefore controlled, not by the one-year limitation
period of section 858, but by the six-year period of
limitations that applies more generally to civil claims,
see 14 M.R.S. §752 (2018) ("All civil
claims shall be commenced within 6 years after the cause of
action accrues ... except as otherwise specially
In March of 2018, the court issued a judgment determining
that the portion of section 551 creating the mailing
requirement is a penal statute, that an award of damages for
its violation is a penalty, and that a claim for violating
the mailing requirement is therefore subject to the one-year
statute of limitations prescribed in section 858. The court
concluded that the complaint was time-barred because Denutte
filed her complaint more than one year after the alleged
violation. Denutte's motion for reconsideration was
denied by the court, see M.R. Civ. P. 7(b)(5),
59(e), and she then filed this timely appeal, see
M.R, App. P. 2B(c)(2)(D).
When "[r]eviewing a trial court's dismissal for
failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted
pursuant to M.R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), we view the facts alleged
in the complaint as if they were admitted."
Sabina, 2016 ME 141, ¶ 5, 148 A.3d 284
(quotation marks omitted). We construe the allegations in
Denutte's complaint in the light most favorable to her,
and we review the legal sufficiency of her complaint de novo.
The determination of "[w]hich [statute of] limitations
period applies to a given claim is a matter of statutory
construction," which we also review de novo.
Drilling & Blasting Rock Specialists, Inc. v.
Rheaume, 2016 ME 131, ¶ 16, 147 A.3d 824. We
examine the "plain language of the statutory provision
at issue to determine its meaning, . . . [which] involves
considering the statute's subject matter and purposes and
the consequences of a particular interpretation."
Sabina, 2016 ME 141, ¶ 6, 148 A.3d 284
(quotation marks and alteration omitted). If a statute is
ambiguous, meaning that it is "reasonably susceptible to
multiple interpretations, we look beyond the plain language
of the provision to consider other indicia of legislative
intent, including the legislative history underlying its
enactment." Desjardins v. Reynolds, 2017 ME 99,
Section 551 prescribes the process that must be followed by a
mortgagee or-as here-an entity servicing the mortgage,
see supra n.l, to discharge a mortgage on real
property located in Maine. Through that statute, the
Legislature created two time-sensitive requirements. The
first requires the mortgagee to record the release
"[w]ithin 60 days after full performance of the
conditions of the mortgage." 33 M.R.S. § 551. The
second requirement, which is the one at issue here, addresses
the transmittal of the now-recorded release to the mortgagor:
"Within 30 days after receiving the recorded release
from the registry of deeds, the mortgagee shall send the