On February 22, 2019, Justice Billings finally ruled in the Rubin/Ayer v. Smith/Aquafortis Associates [AQF] lawsuit, finding in favor of Richard Smith. At the start of the litigation back in January 2016 (see Clary Lake Shore Owners Rubin & Ayer File Suit in Superior Court), both Paul Kelley and Pleasant Pond Mill LLC [PPM] were defendants in the suit along with Richard Smith and AQF but first PPM and then Kelley subsequently filed for bankruptcy, staying the civil suit against them. Rubin and Ayer decided to pursue a judgment against only Richard Smith and AQF. They almost won, which is to say, they lost. There were a lot of very interesting elements in the suit, I’ve followed it closely since it was filed, and I testified when it went to hearing on December 20th (see Update on Rubin v. Smith Lawsuit). I have not written about the case much on this website, at the request of Bob Rubin who told me he did not want the publicity. In any case, here’s the Judge’s Order:
At the risk of over-simplifying the case, Rubin and Ayer basically had to prove three things, 1) that their use and enjoyment of their property was impacted due to low water conditions and that their property value had been damaged, 2) that Richard Smith was personally liable for the actions of AQF (a procedure referred to as “piercing the corporate veil”) and 3) that AQF and PPM were effectively alter egos of each other, in other words, one and the same and hence AQF/Smith should be held liable for the operation (or lack thereof) of the dam. Continue reading →
The lawsuit that CLA members Robert Rubin and his wife Cheryl Ayer brought against Richard Smith, Aquafortis Associates LLC, Paul Kelley, and Pleasant Pond Mill LLC back in January 2016, finally, after numerous delays and stays, went to trial on December 20th and 21st in Lincoln County Superior Court. The presiding Judge in the case is Justice Billings, the same Judge that spent 4 years presiding over the Clary Lake Water Level Order appeal so he’s no stranger to Clary Lake, its characters, and its issues. Bob and Cheryl’s lawsuit was initially delayed to allow the WLO appeal to finish (which concluded in February 2018) and then delayed further to let Kelley’s bankruptcy finish. When we ended up closing on the dam this past October, the Rubin/Ayer lawsuit finally went forward. Bob asked me early on not to write about the lawsuit as he didn’t want the publicity. Now that the hearing has taken place, the lid is off. You can read more about the trial in the latest Central Maine Papers article about Clary Lake. Continue reading →
There’s an article that appeared in the Sunday December 23rd Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel by Central Maine Papers staff writer Jessica Lowell about the Clary Lake dam and the Rubin/Ayer v. Smith/AQF lawsuit which went to trial last week. This latest article is factually accurate which is somewhat of a marvel even considering Ms. Lowell has been following the Clary Lake saga for a number of years.
Totally Staged Photo of George Fergusson posing at the gate. Colin Caissie actually did all the heavy cranking.
I had intended to post some news and pictures on the dam repairs before now but I have been out straight and only now, the day before Christmas, have I found the time to sit down and do it. Last Tuesday workers with PCS removed the concrete forms and pulled some sandbags. They came back the next day to clean up and load up the rest of their gear and materials, bringing to completion the initial repairs to the Clary Lake dam. That afternoon, Colin Caissie completed fabrication of a wrench to operate the gate, and we wasted no time in closing it. Part of the rush was the anticipated rain forecast for Friday: we really wanted to capture the runoff! Here are a few pictures from when we closed the gate, and a video of water flowing over the weir: Continue reading →
Lincoln County News staff writer Abigail Adams attended the May 1st bankruptcy meeting of creditors and has written an article about it appearing in this week’s Lincoln County News. It’s a good, factual article but like the recent article in the Central Maine Papers, it incorrectly states that “Medius L3C foreclosed on the dam and held an auction for it in January 2016.” It would be more accurate to say that Medius L3C tried to foreclose on the dam, but failed. Had the foreclosure been successful, someone other than Pleasant Pond Mill would own the property now.
This confusion over foreclosure does nothing to detract from an otherwise accurate and well written article, and I am grateful that the Lincoln County News and the Central Maine Papers are helping keep this slow-motion train wreck in the news:
Isn’t it time to get a dry fire hydrant installed at the inlet of the lake on Route 126?
[dropcap]I[/dropcap] try to keep this news forum factual and informative and not all that speculative. From time to time however I am compelled to offer up some commentary on what has been happening, where we are and where it looks like we are headed. This is one of those times. My goal is to bring some perspective and commonality into our lives where they intersect with Clary Lake and the travails that have assaulted it for so long. Spring is a good time for this kind of musing: it’s a time to wake up, gear up, get in shape, and get ready for another season. I feel this is going to be an important year, that a lot is going to happen. We may not see a resolution of our water level crisis this year but then again we might, the problem being that I really have no idea what a “resolution” might look like. Certainly we’ll see some real progress towards a resolution. Not only am I prepared to be surprised, I expect to be. If one thing has been proven time and time again it is that we have no idea what lies around the next corner. Continue reading →
A new Central Maine Papers article by KJ staff writer Jessica Lowell appeared on-line last night and will be in today’s print edition. It is about Pleasant Pond Mill LLC’s [PPM] mind-boggling decision to file for bankruptcy, it also contains the necessary background to acquaint the reader with the basic facts of the story if they’re coming into this mess cold. The article contains a few mistakes (alternative facts?) which however do nothing to detract from it’s otherwise accurate and fair reporting. You have to admit, after 5+ years, our story has gotten pretty hard to follow. This is the first newspaper article about Clary Lake in over a year, and in my opinion it is overdue (shift-click to open link in a new tab):
Based upon a letter hand delivered by Paul Kelley to the Lincoln County Superior Court yesterday, March 21, 2017, it appears that Clary Lake dam owner Pleasant Pond Mill LLC has filed for Bankruptcy. I picked up a copy of the letter today (see below). The letter doesn’t offer much information so it is not known at this time what kind of bankruptcy Mr. Kelley is pursuing. We’ll just have to wait and see! There are 2 kinds of bankruptcy available to corporations in Maine and the type chosen depends on whether one intends to liquidate (Chapter 7) their company, or attempt to reorganize it (Chapter 11).
Paul Kelley attended the regularly scheduled open (public) meeting of the Whitefield Selectboard on the evening of January 17th to discuss with them issues he has with some Town records, in particular certain Planning Board Meeting minutes. Reference may be had to the following letter which he presented to the Board in open session, which clearly explains his concerns, and what he would like to Town to do about them.
Here is the letter, presented without further comment:
My wife and I spent the better part of last Wednesday the 16th at Lincoln County Superior Court attending 2 different hearings. I had already planned to attend the discovery hearing in the Clary Lake Water Level Order appeal proceeding (Docket No. AP-14-1 ) scheduled for 1:00 PM, then Tuesday afternoon I got a call from Bob Rubin informing me that the Judge had also scheduled a discovery hearing in the Rubin/Ayer lawsuit (Docket No. 2016 CV-002) for 9:00 AM that same day. The judge, Justice Daniel Billings, is the same for both cases. Wednesday was looking like Clary Lake day at Lincoln County Superior Court and my wife and I decided to make a day of it and attend both hearings, which we did, and we even found enough time between hearings for a nice lunch at Sarah’s.
A little background regarding Docket No. 2016 CV-002 is in order since I haven’t written about it on this website since it was first filed: Robert Rubin and Cheryl Ayer are husband and wife, Clary Lake shore owners, Clary Lake Association members, and they are both lawyers licensed to practice in the State of Maine. Their property is on the west shore of Clary Lake. Many of you will remember Bob Rubin from the role he played during the Clary Lake Water Level Petition process, representing the Clary Lake Association pro bono as an intervener in those proceedings. Shortly after issuance of the Final Clary Lake Water Level Order on January 27, 2014, Bob Rubin retired. On January 11, 2016 Bob and Cheryl filed suit in Lincoln County Superior Court (see: “31 January 2016: Clary Lake Shore Owners Rubin & Ayer File Suit in Superior Court“). At the time Cheryl Ayer was a Board member of the Association. She subsequently resigned her Board position in April 2016 so as to avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest. Their complaint named defendants Paul Kelley, Pleasant Pond Mill LLC (PPM), Richard Smith, and Aquafortis Associates LLC (AQF). Paul Kelley and Richard Smith are defending themselves in this proceeding, they are not represented by counsel. Continue reading →