Sanford Mill Project Gets Funding

In 2007, the Legislature passed the $5 million Riverfront Community Development Bond and Maine voters gave it their own stamp of approval in November of 2007.

The town will largely put the $675,000 toward the reinvention of the mill at 61 Washington Street. In September, the town took the mill by eminent domain from its previous owner, local developer Patrick Fagan, whose dreams of revitalizing the property for commercial and residential purposes ran into financial difficulties.

Manufacturer’s Duty to Warn

CASE NOTE: Brown v. Crown Equipment Corporation

By Elliott Teel

One question before the Maine Supreme Judicial Court in this case was whether or not Maine imposes a duty on manufacturers to warn of problems with their product after it has been sold.

The facts of the case show that the manufacturer of forklifts, Crown Equipment, became aware of a design defect that had caused serious injury and even death in several cases. In response to this problem, the company produced a kit in 1995 that prevented injuries from occurring. Essentially the company simply had a piece of metal designed that needed to be added to it’s forklifts in order to prevent injuries. However, despite producing the item that would have prevented further injuries and death, they failed to make sure that they were actually used, or even properly inform the forklift owners of the problem.

Robert Brown was operating one of these forklifts while working for a tanning company. The forklift had been purchased second-hand, however Crown still was aware of the use of the particular forklift, and had even “performed an evaluation” on it. So despite knowing that use of the forklift could result in deadly accidents, and knowing that this particular forklift had not had the corrective work done to it, Crown made no effort to have the modification done to the forklift.  In August of 2006, Mr. Brown was killed while operating the forklift after suffering the exact injury Crown was aware had occurred over fifty times already.

The Court in Maine found that Crown had a duty to warn of the defect in their forklifts.  Their failure to adequately address the problem through a recall or  proper notification to the forklift owners violated that duty, and they were found liable for Mr. Brown’s death.  The Court noted however that they were not adopting a broader, absolute rule about the duty to warn, but only on the facts of this case.

Opposition to Lincoln Lakes Wind Power

A group opposed to the building of a wind power project on Rollins Mountain in Lincoln have filed an appeal with the Lincoln Appeals Board.  They are arguing that the wind turbines should be considered “power generating facilities,” as opposed to “major public utilities.”   Because the area is zoned residential, if the wind turbines are considered generating facilities they should be be permitted.

The Lincoln Planning Board used “ludicrous” arguments in shoehorning a proposed $130 million wind farm into its regulations, a Bar Harbor lawyer opposing the board’s approval of the proposal contended Tuesday.

Representing a group opposing the project, the Friends of Lincoln Lakes, attorney Lynne A. Williams filed an appeal with the Lincoln Appeals Board on Monday charging that First Wind’s turbines do not belong in residential zones of Rollins Mountain, where the project is slated to go if it is approved by Maine Department of Environmental Protection and other agencies.

In her two-page appeal, Williams said the board’s 6-1 approval Dec. 1 violated its own, and most other, municipal land-use ordinances for residential zones.

Bangor Daily News

Wiscasset Bypass Plan Sent to Army Corps.

The Times-Record reports that the State has sent the Wiscasset bypass route plan to the Army Corps of Engineers for approval.  The building of the road will likely require the State to take property by eminent domain.

Construction of the bypass would force the state to move 26 residences and 13 businesses, claiming those properties through eminent domain proceedings.

“One of the reasons this bypass has taken many, many years to come to a conclusion is there are always impacts, and they’re not always good,” said Carol Morris. “It’s never good to have to take people’s properties and lands. It’s never good to impact wetlands.

Product Liability Case

The Press Herald reports here on the case Brown v. Crown Equipment Corporation, where the State Supreme Court confirmed that there is a post-sale duty to warn, even to secondary, (i.e., used product purchasers) of defects in a product.  The facts of the case as reported show that the tragic death of Thomas Brown should have been prevented by Crown, and they inexcusably let a known problem go unresolved.

See my summary of the case here.

Lawsuit Filed to Limit Cleanup

UPDATE: The request was denied.

Mainebiz reports on company’s attempts to prevent the DEP from requiring extensive remediation of a waste site.

Mallinckrodt LLC today said it has filed an action in federal court to prevent the Maine Department of Environmental Protection from enforcing an order that requires Mallinckrodt to implement what it calls “extreme and unnecessary remediation measures” at the former HoltraChem manufacturing facility in Orrington.The commissioner of the DEP signed an order in late November that requires St. Louis-based Mallinckrodt, which owned and operated the former HoltraChem chlorine and chemical manufacturing facility from 1967 to 1982, to undertake an extensive cleanup that includes the excavation of five landfills that contain mercury-contaminated soil above the state’s clean-up standards, according to a press release from the company. Mallinckrodt has been working with a consultant on the cleanup of the site and said the excavation of the landfills was already rejected as an option because it would expose the public to potentially harmful amounts of mercury, would be extremely costly with no environmental benefit and would require 60,000 truck trips carrying approximately 360,000 tons of soil to a licensed facility in Canada.

Mallinckrodt claims it has spent more than $35 million on remediation efforts at the site over the past 15 years.

Verrill Dana One Year Later

Mainebiz has an article on the aftermath of John Duncan’s embezzlement.  Two things still stick out: of course Duncan’s outrageous actions, but also the firm’s failure to take action for four months.

John Duncan is now in federal prison in Brooklyn, hundreds of miles from the state where his theft still raises hackles in part because it was so unusual and the retribution so public. Of the more than 4,869 lawyers licensed to practice in Maine, 13 were publicly sanctioned in 2007, according to the American Bar Association. As a percentage of lawyers licensed, Maine’s rate of public disciplinary action has historically been among the country’s lowest.