Welcome to The Home Equity Theft Reporter, a blog dedicated to informing the consumer public and the legal profession about Home Equity Theft issues. This blog will consist of information describing the various forms of Home Equity Theft and links to news reports & other informational sources from throughout the country about the victims of Home Equity Theft and what government authorities and others are doing about it.
Tuesday, March 07, 2017
Maine Supremes Allow State To Dodge Liability For Grossly Breaching Its Duty Of Care When Acting As Public Guardian For Disabled Man When It Unloaded His Home For Less Than Half Its Assessed Value, Allowed Another House To Reach State Of Disrepair That It Became Uninhabitable, Peddled His Personal Belongings (& Euthanized His Beloved 10-Year Old Cat)
In Rockland, Maine, the Portland Press Herald reports:
The state is immune from liability for selling the waterfront house of a man in its care for well below its value,(1) allowing another home he owned in Rockland to fall into disrepair,(2) selling off his personal belongings and euthanizing his cat.(3)
The Maine Supreme Judicial Court ruled Thursday [March 2] in the lawsuit brought on behalf of William Dean against the Maine Department of Health and Human Services.
The ruling comes nearly four years after the original lawsuit was filed and nearly six months after the high court justices heard arguments on the matter. Dean has died since that hearing, succumbing to natural causes on Oct. 16. He was 71.
Cynthia Ann Dill, Dean’s Portland-based attorney, said Thursday that she respects the ruling but urged the Maine Legislature to expressly provide by statute that when the DHHS acts as a public guardian it is “accountable for damages caused when, as in this case, the duty of care is so grossly breached.”
Dean suffered from mental health issues throughout his life. Among other things, he had Asperger’s syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder that made it difficult for him to interact with other people.
In December 2015, Justice Andrew Horton of the Maine Business and Consumer Court in Portland ruled that the lawsuit could go forward on the single issue of whether the state breached its fiduciary duty while it served Dean’s conservator in 2012 and 2013.
The DHHS appealed that lower court ruling. Assistant Attorney General Christopher Taub argued that the state is immune from liability under the Maine Tort Claims Act. He said there are exceptions to the immunity, but only when it is spelled out in other laws approved by the Maine Legislature.
The Supreme Court justices agreed, saying there is nothing in the state’s probate laws that waives immunity, even when the state serves as a conservator for someone in its care.
[T]he waterfront cottage [...] was sold for $205,000, even though the town had the property – 1 acre with 100 feet of ocean frontage and the 1,000-square-foot, two-story cottage – assessed for tax purposes at $476,840.
(2) The story states that:
The state also tried to sell the Rockland home on Broadway, but a pipe burst during the winter when there was no heat and caused major flooding, which then led to mold throughout the home, making it uninhabitable.
(3) According to the story:
In an October 2015 interview, Dean said the state’s decision to euthanize his longtime companion, a 10-year-old Himalayan cat named Caterpillar, bothered him the most. guardianship
CBC News: Betrayal of Trust (A CBC investigation reveals how lawyers across Canada have misappropriated and mishandled clients money, to the tune of tens of millions of dollars, or sometimes even charging vulnerable people top dollar for shoddy services)
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