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Jury finds unanimously for Defendant Condominium Association

On November 3, 2017, following a five day trial held in the York County Superior Court, a jury returned an unanimous verdict in favor of a small condominium association and its officers in a lawsuit that was filed by one of the unit owners.  Christine Kennedy-Jensen represented the condominium association and its three officers who were named individually.  The jury considered multiple claims including breach of contract and overburdening of an utility easement.  The condominium association also prevailed by an unanimous decision on its counterclaim for unpaid assessments over a period of six years.  Following the jury’s decision, the case proceeded to a one day hearing in a bench trial before Judge O’Neil on equitable claims and defenses presented by the owners of the condominium unit which was held in May 2018.  All of the equitable issues were also resolved in favor of Christine’s...

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Retrial produces second jury verdict for defendant landlord

Martica Douglas recently won a jury verdict for the defendant in a lead poisoning case.  The firm’s client was a landlord who was sued by former tenants claiming that  their three children had suffered neurocognitive damage caused by exposure to lead paint in the rental property– a single family house built in the late 1800s and located in the small town of Solon, Maine. One of the children had been found to have an elevated blood level, high enough to trigger an environmental inspection by the state lead inspector, who found “lead hazards” in the form of deteriorated paint in the house and ordered an abatement. Expert testimony regarding proximate cause was introduced by both sides.  The defense argued that there was no way to identify lead as a substantial cause of the children’s developmental delays and behavioral problems given 1) the many factors influencing child development; 2) the relatively modest blood lead levels detected in plaintiffs’ children; and 3) the fact that many children exhibit developmental-behavioral issues who have not been exposed to lead. The jury found that Mr. McDonough was not negligent, presumably because the evidence showed that the paint in rental property was in good shape when the plaintiffs took possession.  This meant that the deteriorated state of the paint had occurred as a result of the tenants’ own wear and tear.  The state lead inspector testified that all old houses in Maine contain lead paint, as it was not taken off the market until 1978 and that lead paint is not hazardous if it’s in good condition or coated with latex.  This house contained no more lead paint than the houses most Mainers were raised in.  The jury understood this- undoubtedly, many jurors had grown up in houses containing lead paint. The jury also rejected Plaintiffs’ claims for intentional infliction of emotional distress and punitive damages. Interestingly, this is the second time this case was tried to a jury.  The first trial also resulted in a verdict for the defense.  The plaintiffs appealed, and the Maine Law Court granted the appeal based on limitations the trial judge had placed on the scope of expert opinion...

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Business & Consumer Court grants two summary judgment motions filed by Attorney Christine Kennedy-Jensen on behalf of a national leisure tour company

By order dated March 13, 2014, Business & Consumer Court Justice A.M. Horton granted two Cross-Motions for Summary Judgment filed by Attorney Christine Kennedy-Jensen on behalf of her client, a national leisure tour company. The plaintiffs in both cases booked family vacations through a local travel agency in Maine. The travel agency was run and operated by a solo travel agent, who was also named as a defendant in both lawsuits. When the plaintiffs booked their trips to Punta Cana, the travel agent told them that they could save money if they paid by check instead of paying by credit card. In September 2011, both plaintiffs paid the travel agent substantial sums of money by check for airfare and accommodations. The trip was scheduled to begin in June 2012. The travel agent used some of the funds that the plaintiffs had paid by check to pay for their airfare. However, she paid the national leisure tour company for the plaintiffs’ accommodations by charging credit cards of other travel agency clients, without those clients’ knowledge or consent. On June 1, 2012, the national leisure tour company was contacted by clients of the travel agency whose credit cards had been improperly charged by their travel agent. The tour company reversed what it determined to be fraudulent charges and cancelled the plaintiffs’ reservations for the accommodations. Meanwhile, rumors began circulating in the plaintiffs’ community about the travel agency and the travel agent being raided by the FBI. The plaintiffs attempted to ascertain the status of their reservations. They eventually learned that their reservations had been cancelled for non-payment. The tour company agreed to assist the plaintiffs in rebooking their hotel accommodations if the plaintiffs paid it directly and signed a release discharging any claims against them. The tour company then negotiated the rebooking at the same rate the plaintiffs were originally charged. The plaintiffs were able to take their vacation as planned. The Court concluded that the travel agency, acting through the travel agent, was acting as an agent of the plaintiffs and not as an agent of the tour company when she collected funds paid to the travel agency by the plaintiffs. The Court further concluded that the releases signed by the plaintiffs were enforceable and barred their claims. The Court found that their claim of economic duress failed because the tour company was not responsible for the diversion of the funds and the plaintiffs did not show that they had no alternative besides rebooking their hotel accommodations through the tour company. Finally, the Court held that the plaintiffs failed to make a prima facie case showing that the tour company engaged in any unfair trade practice or misleading conduct that caused...

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Martica Douglas and Deb Buccina Invited into the American Board of Trial Advocates, “ABOTA”

(September, 2013) ABOTA is a national association of experienced trial lawyers and judges dedicated to the preservation and promotion of civil jury trial rights as well as professionalism and upholding ethics. In Maine, there is only a small group of attorneys who have been invited into this society. Qualification requirements are rigorous and invitees must be approved before membership is offered. Martica Douglas and Deb Buccina Have Been Winning Jury Trials Last March Martica represented the driver of a vehicle involved in a fatal motorcycle crash. The deceased biker skidded out of control coming around a sharp curve in the road.  A biker who had been following the deceased got caught up in the accident as it was unfolding.  He sustained multiple serious injuries and as a result was living in pain and was permanently disabled from work. He brought suit against the Estate of the deceased biker and Martica’s client, who was coming around the curve in the opposite direction.  The plaintiff’s lawyer alleged that Martica’s client was on the yellow line as he came around the curve, and was therefore at least 1% at fault.   The Oxford county jury awarded $1.8 million to the injured biker, but found that liability rested entirely with the deceased biker.  Martica’s client was found to be free of fault. More recently, in September, Martica represented an automobile insurer against a claim for uninsured motorist benefits.  The plaintiff contended that he had been struck by a uninsured operator, and that the impact caused him to strike his head against the driver’s window.  He claimed ongoing headache and balance problems.  Plaintiff’s expert neurologist testified that these problems were caused by the trauma sustained in the accident and in all likelihood would continue to plague him throughout his life    The damage to Plaintiff’s car was minimal.  Martica argued that Plaintiff was not injured in the accident.  The York County jury agreed, returning a verdict for the insurer. In October, Deb tried a case to jury conclusion in which she represented the driver of a vehicle in which the Plaintiff was a back seat passenger.  Deb’s client was pulling out of a street-side parking spot when a second vehicle, traveling down the street, collided with the vehicle in which the Plaintiff was seated.  The jury took only twenty minutes to return a defense verdict in favor of the drivers. Martica also won a recent victory in the Maine Law Court.  In Langevin v. Allstate, the Court ruled that the defendant homeowners’ insurer (Martica’s client) did not have to defend its former insureds in an action filed against them by the buyers of their residence, who claimed that the insureds negligently failed to disclose the property’s...

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