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Holman v. STJ, Inc.

Superior Court of Maine, Cumberland

October 29, 2019

DALE T. HOLMAN, Plaintiff,
STJ, INC., and Gorham Sand & Gravel, Inc., Defendant.


         Before the Court is Plaintiff Dale T. Holman's Motion to Set Aside the Court's July 20, 2018 Order, In addition, Defendants' STJ Inc., and Gorham Sand & Gravel inc., have filed a motion for a Spickler order[1] and motions to strike Plaintiffs motion and Plaintiff's opposition to Defendants' Spickler request.[2]

         For the following reasons. Plaintiff's motion is denied. Because it appears the Court does not have jurisdiction to grant Defendants'' request for a Spickler order at this stage of the litigation, Defendants' motion is denied.

         I. Factual and Procedural Background

         The motions presently before the Court are the result of an ongoing struggle between the parties to conclude their dispute. The first case, initiated in 2007, was dismissed with prejudice following a stipulation of dismissal. Holman v. STJ Inc., et al., CUMSC-RE-2007-18S (Me. Super. Ct, Cum. Cty., Apr. 16, 2008) (Crawley, J.). Approximately ten years later on January 12, 2018 Defendants were served with a summons and complaint involving similar allegations. Holman v. STJ Inc., el al., CUMSC-CV-2018-97 (Me. Super. Ct Cum. Cty., June 21, 2018) (Walker, J.). In that case, Defendants filed their answer and counterclaim. Unbeknownst to them, Plaintiff had deliberately withheld filing the complaint with the court. Consequently, Plaintiff's failure to timely file the complaint within twenty days of service led to its dismissal, [3] M.R. Civ. P. 3. Approximately two months later Plaintiff turned around and filed a third complaint, based on similar allegations. This third action was dismissed on the merits by order dated November 9, 2019. Holman v. STJ Inc., et. al., No. CV-18-302, 2018 Me. Super. LEXIS 35 (Nov. 9 2019) (Warren, J.). The third case was dismissed in part due to Plaintiff's failure to timely oppose Defendants' motion to dismiss, and partly because the complaint was a reiteration of the issues litigated in the 2007 complaint. Id. (further discussing the history of complaints and Plaintiff's litigious behavior). Now, after an unsuccessful appeal, [4] Plaintiff moves to set aside the order.

         The motions presently before the Court stem from the second action. After a hearing held on July 20, 2018, Justice Walker ordered Plaintiff to pay $3, 500 in attorney's fees upon finding, pursuant to Rule 3, the action was "vexatiously commenced." Holman, CUMSC-CV-2018-97, at 2 (order dated July 20, 2018).

         II. Discussion

         A. Plaintiff's Motion to Set Aside Judgment

         Plaintiff moves to set aside the court's July 20, 2018 order pursuant to M.R. Civ. P. 60. Plaintiff's lengthy and repetitive motion fails to articulate any clerical mistakes under Rule 60(a) or any other mistakes enumerated in Rule 60(b) that justify setting aside the court's order.[5]

         B. Motion for Injunction Preventing Further Lawsuits

         The only issue for the Court's consideration is whether to grant Defendants' request for a Spickler order.[6] Plaintiff's litigious history and repetitive lawsuits suggest he should be enjoined from filing any further lawsuits against Defendants on this matter without court permission. However, for the same jurisdictional concerns raised by Justice Warren in the third action, CV-18-302, Defendants' motion is denied. Justice Warren denied Defendants' original request because Plaintiff's complaint was already dismissed. Similarly, in this case, Plaintiff's complaint was dismissed on May 8, 2018.

         Nonetheless, the Court advises Plaintiff that his repetitive lawsuits and reoccurring failure to litigate on the merits approaches the frivolous and vexatious conduct that a Spickler order is intended to address. Defendants' evidence suggests that Plaintiff has no intention of letting this matter go. After Defendants' shared their answer and counterclaim with Plaintiff in this action, in an email dated February 14, 2018, Plaintiff stated:

Thank you for sharing your hand with me regarding the response game plan for your clients. This current suit has not been submitted to the courts, therefore, I will be submitting a new one with help from your filings. Thank you Please allow your client to know that I will not be going away, and that I will fight this fight Forever I have not yet begun to fight, and I will prevail legally with all my pursuits and efforts.

(Def .s' Ex. B.) This communication was cited as one of the reasons Justice Walker found the action to be "vexatiously commenced." Later that year, in an email to Defendants' counsel, Plaintiff stated he was considering filing criminal and emotional distress charges against Defendants and Defendants' counsel. (Def.s' Ex. C.) Defendants' counsel has also been subjected to three bar complaints filed by Plaintiff, one of which was filed just two hours after the July 20, 2018 hearing. (Def.s' Mot. Restrain 3.)

         The Court takes judicial notice of Plaintiff's litigious history with others. While this case was pending, in April, 2018, Plaintiff filed two separate lawsuits against nine parties - including, inter alia, his neighbors and the Willow Home Owners Association. These cases were consolidated and resulted in a stipulation of dismissal. The settlement agreement included a Spickler order. See Holman, 2018 Me. Super. LEXIS 35, at *2-3 (citing Holman v. Johnson, CUMSC-CV-2018-68 & CV-2018-143 (order entered Nov. 20, 2018). While that case was pending, the court dismissed an additional complaint filed against the Willow Home Owners Association. Holman v. Willow Home Owners Association, CUMSORE-2018-179 (Sep. 11, 2018). Defendants have ...

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