Skip Maine state header navigation

Agencies | Online Services | Help
Eastern Aircraft v. City of Old Town
Download as PDF
Wordperfect 3
Back to Opinions page

MAINE SUPREME JUDICIAL COURT					Reporter of Decisions
Decision:	1998 ME 125
Docket:	Pen-97-696
on Briefs:	May 15, 1998
Decided:	May 28, 1998




	[¶1]  The City of Old Town appeals from the declaratory judgment
entered in the Superior Court (Penobscot County, Mead, J.) in favor of Eastern
Aircraft Sales, Inc.  The City contends that the court erred by concluding that a
fifteen-year lease entered into by the parties may be terminated only on a
breach of condition of the lease.  We affirm the judgment.  
	[¶2]  In October 1996 the City notified Eastern Aircraft that it was
terminating Eastern's lease of the Old Town municipal airport (Dewitt Field) on
May 1, 1997.  In February 1997 Eastern filed a complaint against the City
seeking, inter alia, a declaratory judgment pursuant to 14 M.R.S.A. §§ 5951-
5963 (1980 & Supp. 1997).  A trial was held in June 1997 on the first count of
the complaint, the sole issue being whether the lease provided that either
party could terminate the lease at will.  Following the court's negative answer,
the City obtained a certification of final judgment pursuant to M.R. Civ. P. 54(b)
and this appeal followed.  
	[¶3]  Paragraph 3 of the lease provides:  "The term of the within Lease
shall be for fifteen (15) years."  The City, however, relies on the following
sentence from paragraph 4 of the lease:  "Neither party may terminate this
agreement without first giving the other party hereto six (6) months notice in
writing."  The City contends that because the sentence contains no reference
to a breach of condition of the lease, none is necessary.  We disagree.  The
provision merely requires a six-month notice and is couched in the negative. 
The City would have us interpret the provision as if it provided that either party
may terminate the agreement on giving the other party six months' notice in
writing.  Because the provision does not permit termination but only requires
notice upon termination, we look to the rest of the lease and contract law.  
	[¶4]  Ordinary contract principles prevent the termination of the lease
during its term in the absence of a breach of condition.  The City has presented
no persuasive argument to the contrary.  Nor has the City's resort to other
provisions of the lease persuaded us that the provision of paragraph 4 should be
interpreted to permit termination at will.  
	The entry is:
				Judgment affirmed. 

Attorney for plaintiff: Peter A. Anderson, Esq. 202 Exchange Street, Suite 200 Bangor, ME 04401 Attorneys for defendant: John J. Wall, III, Esq. Monaghan, Leahy, Hochadel & Libby, LLP P O Box 7046 Portland, ME 04112-7046 Robert E. Miller, Esq. Spencer, Zmistowski & Miller P O Box 467 Old Town, ME 04468-0467