Boatbuilder lawsuit against Maine city tossed

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The city of Eastport, Maine, has won a court judgment against a Canadian boatbuilder in a dispute over damages the builder claims it suffered in a city-owned mill. Millennium Boats of Escuminac, New Brunswick, had set up production in a mill owned by Eastport six years ago, promising to create 50 jobs. At the time, both sides hailed it as a win for the city.

According to the Bangor Daily News, Millennium rented space in the mill from 2013 to 2017 to build aluminum fishing boats. In 2015, Millennium sued Eastport, alleging that the city failed to make timely repairs after a fire broke out in July 2014 and destroyed a boat under construction. Millennium sought damages of $226,662 and claimed it suffered losses of $430,000 in lost sales because of the fire, according to the Quoddy Tides newspaper.

Last week, a judge in Maine’s business court ruled against Millennium Marine, writing that the company’s allegations against the city was a tort claim — or a civil allegation of wrongdoing. The judge ruled that the Maine Tort Claims Act gives the city and its officials blanket immunity against any such claims.

Millennium Marine CEO Cory Guimond told the paper that he had expected the court to side with the city. He added that a jury “would have a much different view,” and plans to appeal the decision.

“This is a matter of serving justice over the corruption of small-town politics,” Guimond told the paper. “The only losers are the 30 to 50 Mainers that do not have a job today.”

Connected with the lawsuit, Eastport officials say Millennium Marine owes the city tens of thousands of dollars in back rent. Eastport had sought to evict the company from the mill for unpaid rent. Millennium vacated the property in June 2017.

Eastport City Manager Ross Argir told the paper that a separate countersuit filed by the city against Millennium Marine over the unpaid rent is still pending. The city is trying to recoup $43,200 that Argir says Millennium owes in rent.

Dennis Mahar, a Calais attorney representing the city in the countersuit, told the paper that Eastport is also trying to recoup other fees involved in the cleanup of the mill after Millennium vacated. Mahar says Millennium still owes the city more than $83,000. 

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