A panel of state Supreme Court judges ruled that a lower court was correct in awarding damages to a couple whose home was invaded in March 2013.

Grover B. Bragg Jr. appealed a decision in Waldo County Superior Court to award damages to Dawn Haskell and Martin W. Witham resulting from a home invasion that occurred March 27, 2013, in the early morning hours.

According to court documents, Haskell and Witham also appealed, contending the lower court made a mistake in allowing Bragg to assert an affirmative defense of comparative negligence. Comparative negligence is a partial legal defense that can reduce damages a plaintiff can recover in a negligence-based claim based on how the plaintiff’s negligence contributed to an injury.

In March 2014, Haskell and Witham filed a six-count complaint against Bragg and Donald R. York Jr. In their claim, Haskell and Witham asserted a claim for negligence against Bragg and York for assault and battery, intentional trespass, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress and punitive damages against York.

Bragg, who was served the summons and complaint on April 24, 2014, did not respond within 20 days after being served and did not appear in or defend the claim. That prompted Haskell and Witham to file a motion for default against Bragg, which was entered June 17, 2014. That meant the facts alleged in Witham and Haskell's complaint were deemed to be proven because Bragg failed to appear or respond to the claim.

Court documents state that on the morning of March 27, 2013, Haskell and Witham awoke to the sound of windows being broken, at which time Witham exited the home and found Bragg and York outside.

Bragg and York returned to a pickup truck parked nearby. Then York exited the vehicle and ran into Haskell and Witham’s home without permission and damaged property inside. York threw a bench through a window, punched holes in the walls, damaged portions of the bed and floor and tracked blood through the house.

The man also attacked Witham, inflicting serious injuries, before reentering the home and continuing to cause damage, court documents state. Those documents indicate York was highly intoxicated because of his use of some combination of crack cocaine, cocaine, heroin, oxycodone, bath salts and marijuana.

York used those intoxicants when he was with Bragg, who, court documents assert, helped York reach that level of intoxication. Bragg also was aware that York was dangerous to others, but still drove the man to Haskell and Witham’s residence because he did not want York in his own home.

In their claim against Bragg and York, Haskell and Witham asked for “such sums as are just,” as well as attorney’s fees, interest and costs and punitive damages. Following a bench trial regarding liability and damages for York, and a damages hearing for Bragg, the lower court ultimately found Bragg and York liable for $428,071.64 in damages to Haskell and Witham.

Bragg, in his appeal, argued the court was wrong to not allow him to argue the cause of Haskell and Witham’s damages. He argued he was not liable for the couple’s injuries because he never “touched them” or their property, according to court documents.

The Maine Supreme Court, however, stated in a decision dated July 13 that while the trial court did make a mistake when it considered evidence of comparative judgment, the error was harmless because the court found that Witham and Haskell were not negligent.

Court documents note that York did not appeal the judgment entered against him.