D. WARREN JUSTICE
action plaintiff Hilda Gladstone (Hilda) is suing her son
Matthew Gladstone (Matthew] because of numerous disputes
between them over real property at 111 Mountfort Road in
parties agree that the property originally belonged to
Hilda's late husband Lionel, who died in 2012,
bequeathing a life estate to Hilda and the remainder interest
tn Matthew. Hilda specifically argues that she was unlawfully
ousted from the property by Matthew in November 2015 and that
when she regained access to the property in November 2017,
Matthew spitefully left die property in a damaged condition.
Hilda seeks damages under various theories and also alleges
that because she repurchased the property in 2018 after the
Town of North Yarmouth had foreclosed on unpaid tax liens,
she now owns the property in fee simple.
jury-waived trial was held on February 27 and March 21, 2019,
and the parties subsequently filed post-trial briefs.
heard the evidence and having evaluated the credibility of
the testimony presented, the court makes the following
findings of fact and conclusions of law:
Plaintiff-Thaddeus Day, Esq.
Defendant-David Lourie, Esq.
Lionel Gladstone died in 2012. In his will he left a life
estate in the real property at 111 Mountfort Road, North
Yarmouth, to his wife Hilda and the remainder interest in
that property to Hilda's son Matthew, whom he had adopted
after he married Hilda.
premises in question consisted of the lot, a residence that
include an addition built by Lionel, and two garages - one of
which was a four-bay garage that the parties referred to as
the Bonanza garage.
After Lionel's death Matthew was living with his mother,
but their relationship eventually deteriorated into open
hostility, particularly after Matthew began a relationship
with Christina York in late 2014 or early 2015, Sometime in
approximately February 2015, Matthew began spending nights
with Ms. York at her family's house but was occupying the
garages at 111 Mountfort Road to conduct a business of
There were several areas of friction between Hilda and
Matthew. One was that Hilda felt that Matthew was neglecting
Another was financial. During this time period Hilda was
falling behind on paying the real estate taxes. Although
those were her responsibility as the life tenant,
Matthew was using the property to conduct his business. Asked
to contribute to the property taxes, he made only a small
payment in June 2015. He declined to pay more and also did not
offer any meaningful help with Hilda's other expenses
[heating oil and utilities].
friction intensified because Matthew acted as if he had an
absolute right to use the garages and the premises at 111
Mountfort Road [other than the residence], coming and going
as he pleased, notwithstanding Hilda's life estate.
the friction continued, Matthew became verbally abusive to
Hilda, telling her on one occasion, "If you don't
like it, get the fuck out" and making similar statements
on other occasions. This was substantiated by the testimony
of Tammy Russell.
Hilda sought the assistance of law enforcement to have
Matthew barred from the premises, but the law enforcement
officers who came to the residence apparently concluded that
Matthew had an equal claim to the property. Because Hilda
cannot read and is not articulate, she was at a significant
disadvantage in attempting to assert her rights, 9. On at
least one occasion Matthew pushed Hilda against a wall. Hilda
was reluctant to tell anyone about this incident
"because he was my son."
Afraid of what Matthew might do, Hilda decided to leave the
property early in November 2015. When Matthew realized she
had left and was making several trips to move out, he felled
a tree across the driveway and would not even let her return
to retrieve certain of her belongings, stating that she ...