News Feature

Originally published in The Weekly Packet, January 26, 2023
Mediation or settlement for Buck v. Brooksville?
January 30 next key date

by Maggie White

At its monthly meeting on January 17, Chair Mark Shaughnessy reported to the Harbor Committee that Jon Buck had retained new counsel in the ongoing legal case of Buck v. Brooksville. On January 13—the end date of the legal stay issued by a Business and Consumer Docket judge during a November 29 hearing—it was filed with the court that Jonathan Buck and Buck’s Harbor Marina, Inc. are now represented by Thomas Douglas of the Westbrook firm Douglas McDaniel & Campo.

Due to Buck’s termination of his relationship with his prior attorney, which left him temporarily without legal representation, a court-approved legal mediation that had been scheduled for October 31, 2022, did not happen.

Also canceled due to Buck’s lack of legal representation was an appeals hearing that had been scheduled for December 2. This hearing concerned one aspect of the case: the Notice of Violations and Order to Correct issued to Jonathan Buck and Buck’s Harbor Marina, Inc. on August 12, 2022, by the Brooksville harbormaster, Debrae Bishop.

While the appeals hearing is a town matter, whereby Buck would have presented his appeal to the Harbor Committee at the Brooksville Town House, it was canceled because the judge, during the November 29 hearing, made a “strong recommendation” to do so, according to Shaughnessy.

As Buck again has representation, the next step in the proceedings is a Zoom hearing that is scheduled for Monday, January 30. At that point, according to Shaughnessy, the case will likely either again go the legal mediation route or will proceed to a judicial settlement conference. Additionally, “[t]he appeals hearing continued from December 2 may be held…contingent on those decisions,” Shaughnessy wrote in a summary of Harbor Committee minutes he compiled pertaining to this case.

The backstory

As previously reported in this paper: The case finds its origins in August 4, 2020, when a boat attached to a Buck’s Harbor Marina mooring during a storm. The vessel was too large for the mooring and, as a result, the mooring dragged, and the boat collided with another vessel in the harbor. Whether Buck had approved the use of the mooring and the precise extent of the resulting damage were catalysts for the ensuing litigation.

The August 2020 incident precipitated the harbormaster and Harbor Committee’s reexamination of Buck’s mooring inspector status and the reissuing of standards for each of the 35 moorings owned by Buck’s Harbor Marina.

Buck has maintained that he has never had a mooring fail and is being unfairly targeted by having to replace his moorings and pay the resulting fines for his failure to do so in the timeline provided.

The Harbor Committee has asserted that everyone is held to the same standard and that, due to the density of moorings in Buck’s Harbor, mooring regulations are more stringent there than in Brooksville waters that are outside of Buck’s Harbor.

As of December 2022, the ensuing disagreement between Buck and the town of Brooksville has cost each party more than of $90,000 in legal fees (the town’s fees were reported as $90,389.76, with Buck’s at $94,000).

Separately but related, a protection from harassment claim that Buck filed against Debrae Bishop in her capacity as Brooksville harbormaster was dismissed by the district court judge in Ellsworth on December 12.

Buck has not responded to requests for comment.