The Maine Supreme Judicial Court affirmed May 30 the Lincoln County Superior Court’s award of $1 million in punitive damages in the case of Tracey Neild vs. Corina Durkee for injuries Neild sustained in April 2009 when Durkee and Earl Bieler murdered Rachel Grindal, in her presence, and cut Neild’s throat with a knife.

Attorney James Lawley of Lipman & Katz, an Augusta-based law firm, argued the appeal before the Maine Supreme Court on May 14, which resulted in the decision. The Supreme Court denied the appeal, saying that the trial court made all the necessary findings of fact to entitle Neild to the $1 million award and that it was not excessive, in light of Durkee’s constitutional guarantees of due process.

In June 2012, the case was tried before Superior Court Judge Jeffery Hjelm by Attorney Sumner Lipman, also of Lipman &Katz, with a result of more than $2.6 million in compensatory damages in addition to the $1 million in punitive damages.

Neild cannot speak above a whisper and has a severe case of post-traumatic stress disorder. Lawley stresses the importance of the decision.

He said, “It is important that the victims of such terrible crimes are properly compensated, and that Durkee is punished, both criminally and civilly.”