Former campground owner sues firm, lawyers

By Rich Hewitt, BDN Staff
Posted Aug. 18, 2010, at 7:32 p.m.

ELLSWORTH, Maine — The former owner of three campgrounds in Hancock County has filed a lawsuit against the Bangor law firm and the lawyers who represented her in the sale of those campgrounds in 2005, claiming $6.7 million in damages.

Attorneys for Patty Rae Stanley of Memphis, Tenn., who owned the Mt. Desert Narrows Camping Resort in Bar Harbor, Narrows Too Camping Resort in Trenton and Patten Pond Camping Resort in Ellsworth, filed the lawsuit Tuesday in U.S. District Court against the Eaton Peabody law firm and its attorneys Dan McKay and Sarah Zmistowski.

The lawsuit seeks a jury trial on the civil claims of professional negligence, breach of fiduciary duty and unintentional misrepresentation against the firm and the attorneys.

According to court documents filed by Stanley’s attorney, Michael J. Waxman of Portland, the suit stems from a land deal in which Stanley was approached by Equity Lifestyle Properties Inc., a publicly traded, Chicago-based company interested in purchasing her three campground properties.

She hired Eaton Peabody to represent her in the deal, which was a complicated affair, and repeatedly told attorney Zmistowski that “she did not understand the deal herself and was relying on EP [Eaton Peabody] to protect her,” the suit states.

The suit claims that the Eaton Peabody attorneys did not adequately explain to Stanley the details of the real estate deal and, in fact, did not fully understand themselves the interaction between different provisions in the real estate transaction.

As a result, the suit states, because of the “negligent representation” by the Eaton Peabody attorneys, Stanley sold the property, valued at $13.5 million, for half that amount, from which she had to pay outstanding debts of about $4 million.

After taxes, the suit states, Stanley netted less than $2 million from the sale of her three properties.

The suit asks the court to award compensation as well as punitive damages.

According to attorney Waxman, the economic damages alone are at least $6,750,000. In an e-mail, Waxman declined to comment further on the lawsuit.

“The complaint is self-explanatory,” he wrote.

Eaton Peabody has not responded formally to the suit at this time. Bernard J. Kubetz, an Eaton Peabody attorney, also declined to comment on the allegations in the lawsuit. Kubetz said that he was aware of the work his partners had done for Stanley.

“I believe we gave her appropriate advice and that it was an advantageous transaction for her,” he said Wednesday. “It is unfortunate that, six years later, she is second-guessing the decisions she made at that time. When all the evidence is out, I’m confident that a judge or jury will conclude that our work for Ms. Stanley was appropriate; that we gave her good advice and provided good representation.”

Attorneys from Eaton Peabody, including Kubetz, represent the Bangor Daily News in legal matters.

http://bangordailynews.com/2010/08/18/news/bangor/former-campground-owner-sues-firm-lawyers/ printed on September 18, 2014