Posts tagged "Coulter"

Lydon v. Coulter (Lawyers Weekly No. 11-068-14)

NOTICE:  All slip opinions and orders are subject to formal revision and are superseded by the advance sheets and bound volumes of the Official Reports.  If you find a typographical error or other formal error, please notify the Reporter of Decisions, Supreme Judicial Court, John Adams Courthouse, 1 Pemberton Square, Suite 2500, Boston, MA 02108-1750;  (617) 557-1030; SJCReporter@sjc.state.ma.us     13‑P‑1272                                       Appeals Court     JUNE M. LYDON, trustee,[1]  vs.  THOMAS COULTER. No. 13‑P‑1272.      June 17, 2014.       Judgment.  Injunction.  Contempt.  Notice.  Practice, Civil, Attorney’s fees, Contempt, Judgment, Injunctive relief.         This action arises from a zoning dispute between abutting landowners in the town of Milton (town).  A judge in the Land Court, as part of a contempt action, awarded the plaintiff partial attorney’s fees.  The plaintiff appeals, claiming that the fees and costs awarded were erroneously low.  The defendant cross-appeals, claiming that fees and costs should not have been awarded at all and that there was no contempt as the underlying Land Court judgment did not constitute an injunction.  We affirm.     Background.  We need not tarry on the extended litigation between the parties over the right of the defendant to operate a landscaping business next to a vacant residential home owned by the plaintiff.[2]  On August 1, 2011, the plaintiff filed a motion for summary judgment.  On May 3, 2012, the Land Court judge issued a decision and judgment finding largely in favor of the plaintiff.  In pertinent part, the judgment commanded that “[a] landscaping business may not be operated on [Coulter’s property].”   On August 16, 2012, the plaintiff brought a complaint for civil contempt in the Land Court to enforce Coulter’s compliance with the May 3 judgment.  On December 18 of the same year, an evidentiary hearing was held on the complaint for contempt. Before the hearing, the judge took a view of the property in question.  On July 3, 2013, judgment entered, finding that Coulter was, indeed, in contempt.  As part of the contempt judgment, the judge awarded the plaintiff attorney’s fees and costs.   In determining the amount of the fees, the judge grouped the plaintiff’s actions to enforce the original judgment into four categories: (1) litigating Coulter’s appeal of the May 3 judgment; (2) pursuing administrative remedies with the town; (3) attempting to prevent, and then appealing, an amendment to the zoning by-law; and (4) prosecuting the contempt action in the Land Court.  The judge declined to award the plaintiff any fees incurred relative to the first three items.  As to the fourth, the judge concluded that the plaintiff could recover.  In the end, the judge allowed fees in the amount of $ 9,575 out of the […]

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Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - June 17, 2014 at 7:55 pm

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