Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Chris McCormick, the head of "the store that knows the outdoors," has lost another lawsuit in a dispute with his neighbors over how they get to the outdoors.
McCormick, president and CEO of L.L. Bean, has been in a legal fight for more than three years with his neighbors in Cumberland over a trail that leads over McCormick's property to a small beach on Broad Cove.
On Tuesday, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court confirmed a lower court's ruling that the couple who sold the waterfront property to McCormick in 2001 didn't err in their description of the easement across the land.
In December, McCormick lost another case when the Supreme Court ruled that he had to remove a stone wall and fence he had installed alongside the "Trail to the Ocean" in the Dean's Way neighborhood.
Residents have long used that path along one side of McCormick's property to reach the beach. Some drive along the path in small vehicles to take boats to the beach.
The neighbors said McCormick changed the course of the path when he put in the stone wall and fence. Some said they couldn't maneuver vehicles around a corner that was created at the junction of the fence and the wall.
The neighbors sued and, after some back and forth between the superior and supreme courts, won the case, prompting the order for McCormick to move the fence and wall.
In the case decided Tuesday, McCormick argued that previous owners Lawrence and Margaret Crane misrepresented the location of the trail, and that he followed their description of the easement when he built the fence and wall.
The Supreme Court said the Cranes were required to disclose that there was an easement across their property -- which they did -- but weren't required to present with "precise accuracy" the location of the easement.
"They warranted that there were no encumbrances on the property other than those that were disclosed in the deed," said the opinion written by Chief Justice Leigh Saufley. "The deed from the Cranes fully disclosed the existence of an easement that provided certain nearby parcels with ocean access."
Peter Brann, McCormick's lawyer, said he likely would have argued for damages if the ruling had been different, because McCormick paid legal expenses related to determining the location of the easement.
The ruling "is obviously disappointing," Brann said, but he hopes it ends the litigation.
He said the only pending legal matter was a request before Cumberland County Superior Court for a determination that the new location of the fence and wall complies with the courts' ruling that it be moved.
"Mr. McCormick is not interested in being involved in litigation with his neighbors," Brann said.
Calls to Christian Chandler, Lawrence Crane's lawyer, were not returned Tuesday.