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Whitehouse v. Watchowski

Superior Court of Maine, Lincoln

September 9, 2019

ERNEST A. WHITEHOUSE, et al. Plaintiffs
v.
DALE E. WATCHOWSKI, et al, Defendants.

          JUDGMENT

         A bench trial in this matter was conducted over five days - October 29, 2019; October 31, 2019; November 1, 2019; June 13, 2019; and June 14, 2019[1]. The following judgment is based on the evidence presented at trial, the stipulations agreed to by the parties, and the view conducted by the court on June 13, 2019.

         The Plaintiffs have presented proposed findings of fact which are adopted by the court with the exception of the following numbered proposed findings of fact which this court specifically declines to adopt as fact: 11 - 17; 41 - 45; 51; 56 - 57; 60 ~ 61; 65 -67; 70 - 71; 86 - 87; 90; 96 - 97; 104; and 115.

         Count I - Declaratory Judgment

         In this count, the Plaintiffs seeks a judgment declaring that the Nubbles, as depicted on the Capen Plan and described in the Original Nubbles Deed, includes all of the land between the Watchowski/Williams property on the west and the mean low tide of the Atlantic Ocean on the east and is owned exclusively by the Plaintiffs.

         The court finds the Original Nubbles Deed to be ambiguous, but that no reasonable interpretation of the deed would implicate any property adjacent to the Watchowski/Williams property. In addition, the court finds unpersuasive the testimony of the Plaintiffs' surveyor regarding the meaning of the Original Nubbles Deed.

         Therefore, because the Plaintiffs, as the party bearing the burden of proof on this count, have failed to convince the court that they are entitled to the relief sought by the preponderance of the evidence, judgment is entered for the Defendants on Count I of the Plaintiffs' Complaint.

         Count II - Declaratory Judgment

         In this count, the Plaintiffs seeks a judgment declaring that the Plaintiffs are the exclusive owners of the land south of the 1975 Boundary Line from the western edge of Lots 2 and 5 and running east as a straight line to the mean low water line of the Atlantic Ocean.

         This court is convinced that the Law Court's holding in Lamson v. Cote, 2001 ME 109, establishes that the Paper Streets Act is not applicable to a case such as this one when the plan was recorded after the first conveyance of a lot shown on a subdivision plan. In addition, to the extent it could be found that the Plaintiffs properly pled a claim of adverse possession of the land in question, the court finds that the evidence presented falls short of what would be required to establish such a claim.

         Therefore, because the Plaintiffs, as the party bearing the burden of proof on this count, have failed to convince the court that they are entitled to the relief sought by the preponderance of the evidence, judgment is entered for the Defendants on Count II of the Plaintiffs' Complaint.

         Count III - Declaratory Judgment

         In this count, the Plaintiffs seeks a judgment declaring that the October 13, 2010 default judgment entered by the Lincoln County Superior Court in Docket No. RE-201-47 is invalid as to the boundary lines of the Plaintiffs' property and to any other property rights held by the Plaintiffs.

         It is undisputed that the Plaintiffs were not served or made a party to the 2010 litigation. Therefore, the judgment entered is in no way binding on the Plaintiffs and judgment is entered for the Plaintiffs on Count III of the Plaintiffs' Complaint.

         Count IV - ...


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