PORTLAND (AP) – Maine’s highest court on Tuesday upheld a lower court ruling awarding the former owners of the Mount Abram ski resort $1.5 million in damages from Camden National Bank.

Camden National had appealed an Oxford County Superior Court jury decision that it was to blame for the ski area’s foreclosure because it failed to follow through on loan commitments.

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court denied the appeal, ruling that the decision was correct as a matter of law and that the judge didn’t err in instructions to the jury.

Steamship Navigation Co. filed suit in 2001 seeking unspecified damages against Camden National and Stephen Staples, a bank vice president. Steamship, a corporation controlled by Randall and Kathleen Dunican, owned the ski area.

Camden National foreclosed on Mount Abram in 2000, about two years after the Dunicans bought it for $455,000. After the foreclosure, the resort sold at auction for $325,000.

In the lawsuit, the Dunicans claimed they had an oral commitment in 2000 from Staples for a loan so they could buy snowmaking equipment.

The suit claimed that even though the Dunicans’ operating line of credit was coming due, Staples advised them that they could spend their cash on maintenance and other things because the line of credit would be paid for with the equipment loan.

While waiting for the promised loan from Camden National, the Dunicans missed payments on two other loans. The bank then notified them that they would not be getting the loan after all.

The following month, the bank foreclosed on the ski resort.

In the lawsuit, a jury found that the bank had agreed to make the loan and had breached that agreement, causing the company $1.5 million in damages.

Among its claims in the appeal, the bank unsuccessfully argued that the loan wasn’t enforceable because it hadn’t been put in writing.


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