Benjamin M. Leoni, Attorney

Ben Leoni focuses his civil litigation and appellate practice on land use, zoning, municipal and administrative appeals, and general litigation.  Ben has argued on behalf of clients ranging from private landowners and small businesses to large energy corporations before municipal boards, state trial courts, and the Maine Supreme Court.  Ben regularly presents before public audiences on the topics of easement disputes, property litigation, and land use negotiation.

Ben’s approach to each case begins with exploring the underlying interests behind his client’s positions and desires.  With a focus on interests, instead of positions, Ben can find creative solutions to his client’s problems.  Ben firmly believes that resorting to a lawsuit is rarely the best option for any client and works hard to explore alternative out of court solutions that cost less time, money, and emotional energy.  But in situations that call for going to court, Ben has a proven track record for getting results for his clients in a wide array of legal subjects from land disputes to contract litigation.

Ben was named a Super Lawyers® “Rising Star” in the area of General Litigation in 2015 and 2016.

Practice Areas

  • Energy, Utilities and Telecommunications
  • Litigation and Administrative Law
  • Real Estate

Education

  • J.D., magna cum laude—Vermont Law School—2011
  • Head Note Editor—Vermont Law Review
  • B.A., Political Science—Bates College—2005

Bar Admissions and Memberships

  • Maine
  • United States District Court for the District of Maine
  • Maine State Bar Association

Civic Involvement

Present

  • Granite Backcountry Alliance – Board Member, 2016-present
  • The Northern Forest Center – Programs Committee, 2011-present
  • Maine Island Trail Association – Splash! Host Committee Member
  • Volunteer – Maine Homeless Legal Project, Volunteer Lawyers Project

Past

  • Maine Chapter of The Nature Conservancy – ICL Trustee 2013-2014, Corporate Conservation Council Committee 2013-2015
  • Volunteer judge, Vermont Law School and Maine School of Law appellate advocacy classes
  • Sail Maine – Corporate Challenge Committee, 2012-present

Representative Matters

Land Use/Easement Disputes

  • Represented landowner in a successful appeal to the Maine Supreme Court that ultimately ruled that the public had not established an easement to the ocean over landowner’s property. Cedar Beach/Cedar Is. v. Gables Real Estate, 2016 ME 114, 145 A.3d 1024.
  • Represented client in a successful three-day trial concerning a boundary dispute after a newly-arrived neighbor challenged the long-established boundary line between the two properties. Granger v. MacLean, RE-14-44 (Order 1/13/2016).
  • Successfully represented property owners in Kennebunkport before the Maine Supreme Court in defeating a multi-million dollar lawsuit instigated by the Town, State, and over 150 other local landowners that sought to take client’s property for public use without compensation through a prescriptive easement.  Almeder v. Town of Kennebunkport, 2014 ME 12.
  • Represented shoreland property owners in overturning municipal decision permitting neighbor’s activities that infringed on client’s riparian rights.  White v. Town of Naples, AP-12-63 (Order 12/19/13).

Corporate/General Litigation

  • Obtained a favorable settlement for client in case involving a dispute between partners of a small business.
  • Obtained summary judgment on behalf of rental-car company opposing liability arising from personal injury of passenger in a rental car.  White v. McCann et al., BANSC-CV-14-47 (Order 9/15/14).

Energy and Telecommunications/Environmental

  • Part of a team from Curtis Thaxter who successfully represented Fryeburg Water Company in an appeal to the Maine Supreme Court concerning regulatory approval of a contract between FWC and Nestle Waters North America. Taylor v. Public Utilities Commission, 2016 ME 71, 138 A.3d 1214.
  • Represented Maine’s second-largest public utility company as amicus curiae before the Maine Supreme Court in vacating an adverse trial court decision regarding utility line-owner liability for personal injuries resulting from contact with utility line.  Central Maine Power Co. v. Devereux Marine, Inc., 2013 ME 37.
  • Has represented clients concerning shoreland protection permitting, conservation easement disputes, and hazardous waste permitting.

Publications

  • Resolving Disputes in the Northern Forest: Lessons from the Connecticut and Moosehead Lakes, 35 Vt. L. Rev. 295 (2010)
  • Kennebunkport Missed Collaborative Opportunity in Goose Rocks Beach Dispute, Portland Press Herald, May 27, 2014.
  • Why the Goose Rocks Beach Ruling is Actually Good for Public Access, Seacoast Online, February 27, 2014.

Personal Interests

Ben is an avid backcountry skier who has appeared in five ski movies and numerous ski publications.  Ben’s online webseries Working for the Weekend, which follows Ben’s backcountry skiing excursions throughout the Northeast, received over a hundred thousand views in its first season.  Prior to law school, Ben worked in Alta, Utah in winters, taught sailing in summers, and spent his falls and springs caretaking at backcountry huts in the White Mountains for the Appalachian Mountain Club. Ben lives in Portland which he uses as a base camp for his skiing, hiking, mountain biking, and year-round surfing adventures.