Maine Superior Court has ruled in favor of former Portland Mayor Ethan Strimling
Download: Court Order [pdf]
The Maine Superior Court has ruled in favor of former Portland Mayor Ethan Strimling in his appeal in an eviction case brought against him by his landlord Geoffrey Rice and granted Mr. Strimling a new trial for a jury to decide whether Mr. Rice sought to evict him in retaliation for his role and leadership in a tenants’ union.
Attorney Scott D. Dolan, who represented Mr. Strimling in the successful appeal, plans to present further witnesses and exhibits in the upcoming jury trial on Mr. Strimling’s behalf.
In its ruling on the appeal, the Superior Court vacated a District Court decision and found that a jury trial is warranted on two material questions of fact:
1) Whether the landlord scheduled the May 25, 2021, meeting where he evicted Mr. Strimling in response to correspondence regarding a window fine, or Mr. Strimling’s participation in the Trelawney Tenants Union (“TTU”).
2) Whether Mr. Strimling’s participation in the tenants’ union was discussed during said meeting.
On each point, the Court determined that there was competent evidence for a jury to find in Mr. Strimling’s favor, and that finding in favor of Mr. Strimling on either question, will lead to a different outcome.
On the first material question of fact, the Superior Court wrote: “Although Rice testified that the meeting held on May 25th was called simply to create a non-hostile environment where he could issue Strimling his notice of non-renewal, Rice’s letter informing Strimling of the meeting suggests that Rice’s decision to issue that notice was reached, at least in part, on the TTU communication. There is competent record evidence to suggest that the TTU email was the ‘final straw,’ not the window Strimling left ajar.”
On the second material question of fact, the Superior Court wrote: “If, in fact, the May 25th, 2021, discussion involved Strimling’s role in an organization ‘concerned with landlord-tenant relationships,’ then it could serve as proof of Strimling’ s claim that his lease was not renewed – and he was evicted – as retaliation for his involvement in the TTU.”
In Attorney Dolan’s practice at Petruccelli, Martin & Haddow he represents individuals and small business clients in civil and appellate litigation, successful business building and problem solving, and intellectual property.