Maine’s Recreational Use Statute

In recognizing that vast timberlands in Maine are in private hands, the State created a law that provides legal protection to those landowners who allow free access to those lands for recreational purposes .The Recreational Use Statute, 14 M.R.S.A. § 159-A, protects a landowner from liability if a person is injured while recreating on the landowners property.

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Permanent Disbarment for Lawyer

The Verrill Dana attorney who stole thousands of dollars from his clients has been permanently disbarred from practicing law in Maine.  This was the first lifetime disbarment in the state.

He will also mostly spend two years in jail.

A former Verrill Dana law partner will not appeal the lifetime disbarment handed down against him by Maine’s highest court.

The historic ruling permanently bans John D. Duncan from practicing law in this state, and effectively ends his law career. It is the most severe professional sanction ever imposed on a Maine lawyer, according to the state Board of Bar Overseers.

“He accepts the consequences,” Duncan’s lawyer, Toby Dilworth, said Monday.

“From the beginning of my representation of him, he has acknowledged his misconduct and taken full responsibility.”

Press Herald

Employer Liability

By Elliott R. Teel

The Maine Supreme Court recently ruled on a case that suggests greater liability for employers for actions of their employees. The case concerned a employee who was driving home after completing a work assignment when he crashed into another vehicle, killing one and injuring two others.

The significance of the Court’s ruling is its indication that in future cases, Maine courts should allow for an expansion of time when an employer may be legally liable for the actions of an employee. The dissenting judges in the case noted that the ruling is a change in Maine law. The legal standard has been that a person who is “going to or coming from work is responsible for his or her own actions.”

Under Maine law, an employer is liable for the actions of an employee when their actions were within the “scope of employment.” To determine if the specific actions were within the scope of the employment, the court will look at three factors: (1) if the action was the type the employee was hired to perform; (2) the action took place substantially within the time and space as authorized by the employer; and (3) the action was done, at least in part, to benefit the employer.

The exact impact of the Court’s ruling is not yet known, though the ruling may lead to an employer being liable for the actions of an employee when they are driving to or from work or a specific assignment.  The ruling in the case overturned a lower courts dismissal of the case at an early stage of the case, and the Court did not articulate a new standard for the lower court to use, or for other future Maine cases. The Court did not explain what specific facts it found to be different in this case, or if they thought the current standard was outdated. However, based on the somewhat limited facts of the case, employers should be aware that they may be liable for their employees actions while they driving to or from work, or a specific assignment.