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POAH-MPTTA Joint Venture, LLC, et al. v. New Mass Pike Towers Limited Partnership, et al. (Lawyers Weekly No. 09-027-17)

COMMONWEALTH OF MASSACHUSETTS
SUFFOLK, ss. SUPERIOR COURT
CIVIL ACTION
No. 16-03282-BLS1
POAH – MPTTA JOINT VENTURE, LLC & another1
vs.
NEW MASS PIKE TOWERS LIMITED PARTNERSHIP & others2
MEMORANDUM OF DECISION AND ORDER ON
DEFENDANTS’ MOTION TO DISMISS
PLAINTIFFS’ SECOND SUBSTITUTE COMPLAINT
Plaintiffs, POAH – MPTTA Joint Venture, LLC (Joint Venture) and Mass Pike Towers
Tenants Association, Inc. (MPTTA), filed this action for declaratory judgment against
defendants, New Mass Pike Towers Limited Partnership, Trinity Financial, Inc., and Trinity
Mass Pike Towers, Inc (referred to collectively as “Trinity”). Trinity moves to dismiss plaintiffs’
“Second Substitute Complaint” (Complaint) for lack of jurisdiction under Mass. R. Civ. P.
12(b)(1), failure to state a claim under Mass. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), and for failure to add
indispensable parties under Mass. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(7) and Mass. R. Civ. P. 19. Count I is brought
solely by the Joint Venture, and Count II is brought solely by MPTTA. In both counts, plaintiffs
seek declaratory judgment relating to the potential purchase and sale of Mass Pike Towers. For
the reasons stated below, Trinity’s motion to dismiss is allowed.
1 Mass Pike Towers Tenants Association, Inc.
2 Trinity Mass Pike Towers, Inc., as general partner of New Mass Pike Towers Limited
Partnership, and Trinity Financial, Inc.
BACKGROUND
The facts as revealed by the Complaint are as follows.
Mass Pike Towers is a two hundred unit subsidized housing complex in the Chinatown
section of Boston, Massachusetts. Plaintiff MPTTA is a 501(c)(3) charitable association of the
tenants of Mass Pike Towers. Plaintiff Joint Venture is a Massachusetts limited liability
company, consisting of MPTTA and Preservation of Affordable Housing, Inc. (POAH).3 In this
action, the Joint Venture seeks a declaration for specific enforcement of an option it allegedly
received from the City of Boston to purchase Mass Pike Towers. As an alternative ground for
relief, MPTTA asserts in Count II that there is an actual controversy between the parties as to
whether MPTTA should be allowed to exercise the option on its own behalf. Plaintiffs request
that the court issue a declaration of their rights.
In 1999, defendant, Trinity Financial, Inc., a local for-profit development company,
submitted proposals seeking approval and support from the City of Boston, the Boston
Redevelopment Authority, the Massachusetts Housing Finance Agency, the U.S. Department of
Housing and Urban Development, and the Massachusetts Department of Housing and
Community Development to purchase Mass Pike Towers. Trinity proposed to purchase Mass
Pike Towers for a below-market price of $ 6.1 million. The appraised value of the property was
$ 7.8 million. Trinity proposed to purchase Mass Pike Towers without contributing any cash
itself. Trinity also proposed to receive a developer’s fee of $ 3.4 million. Public resources were to
finance the entire purchase price and the cost of rehabilitating Mass Pike Towers. Trinity
3 Plaintiffs assert that, “POAH and MPTTA, designated by the city of Boston to
implement the city’s exercise of its option to purchase the property, have formed the plaintiff and
have assigned to it their rights to pursue exercise of the option to purchase.” Complaint, ¶ 4.
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proposed that MassHousing provide a $ 10.3 million low-interest loan financed through private
activity “volume cap” tax-exempt bonds. This tax-exempt financing was to include an allocation
of $ 4.5 million in Low Income Housing Tax Credits under the Internal Revenue Code, 26 U.S.C.
§ 42. The Low Income Housing Tax Credit provides a subsidy through the federal tax code to
private developers who develop affordable housing. Trinity’s proposal also required a $ 500,000
loan from the City of Boston and another $ 500,000 loan from state funds.
In an effort to win approval of its proposal, Trinity proposed to include South Cove
Nursing Facilities Foundation, Inc. (South Cove), a non-profit organization in Chinatown, in the
transaction. In its application to the City in April, 1999, Trinity noted that South Cove “has a
long and deep history in Chinatown . . . and will hold a Right of First Refusal for any future sale
of the property anticipated at the end of the 15 year tax compliance period . . . .” Complaint, ¶ 13.
South Cove issued a letter of support of Trinity’s proposal and indicated its intention to become
the eventual permanent owner of the property. POAH is the successor to South Cove in
connection with the plaintiffs’ attempt now to purchase Mass Pike Towers.
On March 29, 2000, the parties signed the Purchase Option and Right of Refusal
Agreement. Trinity agreed to a use restriction that gave MPTTA, the City, and South Cove an
option to purchase or a right of first refusal, “to be exercised seriatim if the superior entity failed
to exercise its right to an option.” Complaint, ¶ 17. The Purchase Option Agreement, which is
attached to the Complaint as Exhibit 1, provides that at the end of the initial fifteen year tax
credit compliance period, the option holders could exercise their options.4 Plaintiffs allege in
4 The Purchase Option Agreement provides in Section 2:
The Owner hereby grants an option (the “Option”) to purchase the real estate,
fixtures, and personal property comprising the Property or associated with the
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their Complaint that all parties agreed that, ultimately, the proposal would eventually result in a
non-profit entity purchasing Mass Pike Towers for the benefit of the City and its low-income
residents in Chinatown.
Section 3(b) of the Purchase Option Agreement provides that determination of the
purchase price upon exercise of the purchase option will be determined based on “One hundred
percent (100%) of the fair market value of the Property, appraised as low-income housing to the
extent continuation of such use is required under the Use Restrictions, taking into account all
relevant factors including without limitation the terms of this Agreement, any such appraisal to
be made by an independent appraiser.” To exercise the option, the party must give written notice
of its intent to the Owner and comply with the closing requirements of Section 8 of the Purchase
Option Agreement. The party exercising the option “shall specify a closing date within one
hundred twenty (120) days immediately following the date of exercise.” Purchase Option
Agreement, Section 4.
In addition, the parties entered into other agreements relating to use restriction issues.
More specifically, the owner of Mass Pike Towers is required to maintain, for seventy years, 190
units as affordable to households with incomes no higher than sixty percent of the area’s median
physical operation therefore, located at the Property and owned by Owner at the
time of purchase following the close of the compliance period (the “Compliance
Period”) as determined under Section 42(i)(1) of the Internal Revenue Code of
1986, as amended (the “Code”), first, to South Cove for a period of six (6)
months, then, if South Cove does not exercise the Option, then the Tenants
Association shall have the Option for a period of six (6) months, then, if the
Tenants Association does not exercise the Option within such period, then the
City shall have the Option for a period of six (6) months. The Option shall be on
the terms and conditions set forth in this Agreement and shall be subject to the
conditions precedent specified herein.
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income. The agreement also “required the owner to renew the existing Section 8 Project-Based
subsidy contract for 40 units throughout the 70-year restriction, for so long as renewals or
extensions were available, and required the owner throughout the 70 year period to retain the
entire premises as ‘affordable rental housing for occupancy by low income and homeless
households.’” Complaint, ¶ 20.
Trinity and MPTTA also entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) dated
March 23, 2000. The MOU provided that MPTTA will have minority representation in a new
ownership entity created to purchase Mass Pike Towers pursuant to the Right of Refusal
Agreement. The MOU acknowledged that MPTTA has a significant interest in the future
ownership, maintenance, and operation of Mass Pike Towers and its continued availability as
affordable housing. The MOU further provided that: “The parties will work toward an agreement
on defining a long term meaningful role for MPTTA in decision making on all decisions related
to the ownership, management and operation . . . of the Mass Pike Towers . . . .” Trinity also
agreed to give MPTTA support, guidance, and significant participation in management
operations in preparing MPTTA to acquire and operate Mass Pike Towers in the future.
The fifteen year compliance period expired at the end of 2014. The precise date is not
pleaded in the Complaint, but MPTTA concedes that in March, 2016, it learned that its
opportunity to exercise the option had passed. The option, by its terms, passed to the City. The
City gave timely notice that it intended to exercise the option. The City then, in September 2016,
designated MPTTA and POAH to exercise its option. The City’s letter to Trinity states that the
designated non-profit organization for the City’s option “shall close on the transaction by
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October 27, 2016, 120 days from the date of this notice as specified by the Agreement.”5
In preparation for the exercise of its option, the City had commissioned the preparation of
an appraisal to determine the appropriate purchase price of the property. The appraisal, dated
June 27, 2016, “concluded that the purchase price pursuant to the Option Agreement should be
$ 61 million.” Scibelli Aff. Ex. 5.
On September 13, 2016, plaintiffs, “having been designated by Boston to exercise its
option to purchase the property, offered Defendants $ 42 million to purchase Mass Pike Towers,
more than six times what Trinity paid for the property with government subsidies.” Complaint, ¶
27. There is no allegation in the Complaint that the offer by plaintiffs was pursuant to an
independent appraisal. Trinity responded that the offer was “unacceptable.”
Instead of tendering an independent appraisal, the Joint Venture argues that the appraisal
commissioned by the City, the entity whose option the Joint Venture was attempting to exercise,
was flawed. The Joint Venture alleges that the appraisal ignored the use restrictions on the
property and included in its calculations income from commercial activities on the property,
along with sources of income that the parties did not anticipate and could not have anticipated in
2000. The Joint Venture cites a “Section 8 PBV project-based voucher subsidy program of the
Cambridge Housing Authority” as one example of an income stream from an unanticipated
source that has a significant effect on the appraisal value of Mass Pike Towers because the
5 The letter is attached as Exhibit 3 to the Affidavit of Anthony A. Scibelli, submitted by
defendants. The court may consider materials not appended to the complaint, but referenced or
relied upon in the complaint. See Harhen v. Brown, 431 Mass. 838, 839-840 (2000), citing Shaw
v. Digital Equip. Corp., 82 F.3d 1194, 1220 (1st Cir. 1996); Marram v. Kobrick Offshore Fund,
Ltd., 442 Mass. 43, 45 n.4 (2004). This letter, and the other documents attached as Exhibits 1
through 5 to the Scibelli Affidavit, are referenced in the Complaint. Plaintiffs did not object to
consideration of these exhibits.
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enhanced vouchers could be used as collateral for loans. Complaint, ¶¶ 25 & 26. Moreover, the
Joint Venture asserts that, “Trinity based its assertion of value of the property on an appraisal that
was, as a matter of law, invalid, because the appraiser explicitly disregarded, as irrelevant, the
terms and restrictions of the Option to Purchase that required that the ‘Property’ be valued at fair
market value of low income housing.” Complaint, ¶ 29.
Count I is brought solely by the Joint Venture. In Count I, the Joint Venture requests a
declaratory judgment and injunctive relief as follows:
(a) Plaintiff, POAH-MPTTA Joint Venture, LLC, by virtue of the designation of
POAH and MPTTA by the City of Boston to exercise the Option to Purchase, and
assignment of such rights by POAH and MPTTA to the Plaintiff, has the authority
and standing to bring this action.
(b) The plaintiff, POAH-MPTTA Joint Venture, LLC, has the right to exercise, as
the designee of the City of Boston, the option to purchase.
(c) The parties shall engage an independent appraiser or, if they do not agree on an
appraiser, each shall engage an independent appraiser to appraise the property
using the standards of paragraph 3 (b) of the Purchase Option Agreement.
(d) The appraiser shall appraise the entire property as low income housing, subject
to all use restrictions that existed at the time the purchase option agreement was
executed, and without regard to later-created government programs, such as the
PBV subsidy program.
(e) The appraisals shall be made without including any income stream from
subsidies for Section 8 vouchers, including Project-based vouchers, vacant land
on the property, or the income stream from any retail establishments in the
building of the property, or income from units which are rented out at market
rates.
(f) The appropriate purchase option price shall be determined by the Court based
upon the appraisal(s) and argument of counsel, and Defendant shall be enjoined
from failing to convey Mass Pike Towers to Plaintiff POAH-MPTTA Joint
Venture, LLC, pursuant to the Purchase Option Agreement.
(g) A preliminary injunction requiring the defendants to refrain from taking any
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action that might impair full and fair relief for the plaintiff during the pendency of
this proceeding including but not limited to conveying, transferring, otherwise
impairing any interest in the property or encumbering the property with any
mortgage or lien or taking any action that might result in the foreclosure of an
existing mortgage or any action that might burden a conveyance of Mass Pike
Towers to plaintiff.
. . . .
Complaint at 7-8.
Count II is brought solely by MPTTA. MPTTA notes that the MOU states that:
Trinity shall involve the Tenants, through MPTTA, in any and all decisions
regarding the sale or transfer of the Mass Pike Towers to new or different owners,
or any decisions that will substantially change the subsidies, financing or the use
of the Mass Pike Towers. Trinity shall make good faith efforts to inform the
MPTTA in writing of any such proposals or plans, and to timely and fully disclose
information necessary to enable MPTTA to participate in any discussions
regarding such proposals.
Complaint, ¶ 30.
MPTTA alleges that Trinity failed to notify MPTTA of the date the fifteen year tax credit
compliance period began, or file documents that would have placed this information in the public
record, “which was essential to determining the beginning and end of MPTTA’s six month
period to exercise its option to purchase Mass Pike Towers under the Purchase Option
Agreement.” Complaint, ¶ 31. On March 10, 2016, through a letter to defendants’ counsel,
MPTTA attempted to obtain information to exercise its option to purchase, only to learn that the
option period had already expired. MPTTA asserts that Trinity breached the MOU through those
actions.
MPTTA states that its “failure to exercise its option to purchase by December 31, 2015,
was an honest mistake directly resulting from Trinity’s failure to provide to MPTTA necessary
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information to determine MPTTA’s proper option period . . . .” Complaint, ¶ 34. MPTTA seeks
to exercise late its option to purchase and argues that it would not prejudice or impose any
material harm to Trinity and further the public interest in preserving Mass Pike Towers as
affordable housing under the ownership of a local, Chinatown non-profit. Accordingly, MPTTA
seeks, “an order permitting MPTTA to exercise its purchase option under the Purchase Option
Agreement . . . .” Complaint at 9.
ANALYSIS
Count I
Standing
Trinity moves to dismiss the Complaint based on three grounds. First, as to Count I,
Trinity argues that the Joint Venture lacks standing to assert a claim under this count because the
City merely chose MPTTA and POAH as “designees” relating to the option to purchase Mass
Pike Towers. Trinity contends that while MPTTA and POAH were “designated” to receive an
assignment from the City of its option to purchase Mass Pike Towers, there are no allegations in
the Complaint to suggest that the option to purchase was actually assigned to MPTTA and
POAH.6 The City’s letter, dated September 9, 2016, to MPTTA and POAH, notes that it, “has
selected your team as the designee for the Assignment of the City’s Option to purchase The Mass
Pike Towers, as outlined in the RFP issued June 8, 2016.”7 The letter further notes that under the
Purchase Option Agreement, the transaction must be completed by October 27, 2016, unless all
6 It appears to be uncontested that the City never executed a formal assignment of its
option rights.
7 Scibelli Aff., Exhibit 4.
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parties agree to an extension.
“A defendant may properly challenge a plaintiff’s standing to raise a claim by bringing a
motion to dismiss under Mass. R. Civ. P. 12 (b)(1) or (6).” Ginther v. Commissioner of Ins., 427
Mass. 319, 322 (1998). In considering dismissal under Mass. R. Civ. P. 12 (b)(1) or (6), this
Court accepts the factual allegations in the plaintiffs’ Complaint, as well as any favorable
inferences reasonably drawn from them, as true. Id. Moreover, “[a]s a component of subject
matter jurisdiction, a party may challenge, or a judge may consider, sua sponte, standing under
rule 12 (b)(1) at any time.” Abate v. Fremont Inv. & Loan, 470 Mass. 821, 828 (2015).
Count I should not be dismissed based on lack of standing. Under the RFP, MPTTA and
POAH, which combined to form the Joint Venture, were unquestionably designated by the City
to pursue the potential purchase of Mass Pike Towers by the exercise of the City’s option.
Essentially, MPTTA and POAH were intended beneficiaries of the City’s right to exercise the
option to purchase Mass Pike Towers. See Miller v. Mooney, 431 Mass. 57, 61-62 (2000)
(recognizing that enforcement of contract rights in Massachusetts is limited to those who qualify
as intended beneficiaries). It is reasonable to infer that the City would have completed the formal
assignment of its option to MPTTA and POAH, as a joint venture, when the transaction
proceeded to closing. If the Joint Venture had complied with the applicable terms timely to
effectuate the City’s offer, the formal assignment of the City’s rights to the Joint Venture may be
logically assumed. Cf. Modern Continental Constr. Co. v. Lowell, 391 Mass. 829, 835-836
(1984) (concluding that company that unsuccessfully bid on public building contract for sewage
infrastructure had standing to challenge compliance with bidding procedures and noting that
“challenging party need show only that it possessed the potential to obtain the award”). Thus, I
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conclude that the Joint Venture has a direct interest in the outcome of the instant dispute, and
standing to pursue Count I. See Sullivan v. Chief Justice for Admin. & Mgt. of the Trial Court,
448 Mass. 15, 21 (2006) (recognizing that to have standing in any capacity, litigant must show
that challenged action has caused litigant injury and complained-of injury must be a direct and
ascertainable consequence of challenged action).
Failure to State a Claim
Next, Trinity moves to dismiss Count I based on failure to state a claim upon which relief
can be granted under Mass. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). To survive a motion to dismiss, the plaintiff’s
“[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level . . .
[based] on the assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in
fact) . . . .” Iannacchino v. Ford Motor Co., 451 Mass. 623, 636 (2008), citing Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 127 S. Ct. 1955, 1964-1965 (2007). In other words, “[w]hile a complaint attacked by a
. . . motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations . . . a plaintiff’s obligation to
provide the ‘grounds’ of his ‘entitle[ment] to relief’ requires more than labels and conclusions . .
. .” Iannacchino, 451 Mass. at 636, quoting Bell Atl. Corp., 127 S. Ct. at 1966. Dismissal under
Mass. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) is proper where a reading of the complaint establishes beyond doubt
that the facts alleged do not support a cause of action which the law recognizes, such that the
plaintiff’s claim is legally insufficient. Nguyen v. William Joiner Center for the Study of War
and Social Consequences, 450 Mass. 291, 295 (2007).
Trinity argues that even if the Joint Venture is entitled to pursue the City’s rights to the
option, the Joint Venture never exercised the City’s option to purchase in a timely manner and in
strict accordance with the terms of the Purchase Option Agreement. Thus, Trinity contends that
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Count I fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.
Section 3(b) of the Purchase Option Agreement provides that determination of the
purchase price upon exercise of the purchase option will be determined based on “(100%) of the
fair market value of the Property, appraised as low income housing to the extent continuation of
such use is required under the Use Restrictions, taking into account all relevant factors including
without limitation the terms of this Agreement, any such appraisal to be made by an independent
appraiser.” The City commissioned an independent appraisal that valued the property at $ 61
million. The Joint Venture does not allege in its Complaint that it was ready to close the
transaction by the required date based on the appraisal offered by the City (the holder of the
option). Moreover, the Joint Venture fails to allege in the Complaint that its offer of $ 42 million
for Mass Pike Towers was based on an appraisal made by an independent appraiser. See
Complaint, ¶ 27. Instead, the Complaint merely alleges what the Joint Venture believes are
errors or miscalculations in the $ 61 million appraisal relied upon by Trinity. See Complaint, ¶
28. In short, the Joint Venture never made an offer to purchase at a price based upon an
independent appraisal.
Section 4 of the Purchase Option Agreement addresses the exercise of the option and
states:
The Option may be exercised by the holder of the Option by (a) giving prior
written notice of its intent to exercise the Option (the “Option Notice”) to the
Owner and each person listed in Section 11 and in compliance with the
requirements of this Section 4, and (b) complying with the contract and closing
requirements of Section 8 hereof. The notice of intent shall specify a closing date
within one hundred twenty (120) days immediately following the date of exercise.
Such party shall deliver copies of the Option Notice to any subsequent holders of
the Option at the same time it is delivered to the Owner.
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The Joint Venture does not allege that it scheduled a closing for the sale of the property by
October 27, 2016, the deadline for the City’s designation and 120 days after the City first gave
the Option Notice to Trinity. The Joint Venture does not allege that it tendered performance on
the option to purchase. Accordingly, the Joint Venture failed to comply with the terms of the
Purchase Option Agreement. The attempted exercise of the City’s option by the Joint Venture
fails as a matter of law. Cadillac Auto. Co. of Boston v. Stout, 20 Mass. App. Ct. 906, 906-907
(1985) (recognizing that “manner in which an option may be exercised is to be determined by the
language of the option provision” and noting that one “who stumbles in exercising an option is
generally not entitled to equitable relief”) (citations omitted). See also, Lafayette Place Assocs. v.
Boston Redevelopment Auth., 427 Mass.509, 519-520 (1998), cert. denied, 525 U.S. 1177 (1999)
(“Any material failure by a plaintiff to put a defendant in breach bars recovery . . . unless the
plaintiff is excused from tender because the other party has shown that he cannot or will not
perform . . . Even if a potential buyer notifies the seller of the buyer’s intention to tender on a
certain date and appears at the registry of deeds on that date with the required consideration, there
may not be the ‘readiness to perform’ that is a necessary condition of placing the defendant in
breach.”).
Count II
Trinity moves to dismiss Count II under Mass. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) for failure to state a
claim upon which relief can be granted. In Count II, MPTTA alleges that Trinity failed to advise
it as to when the fifteen year tax compliance period began to run, and when the period ended.
MPTTA points only to the MOU between MPTTA and Trinity dated March 23, 2000 in support
of its claim that Trinity was obligated to provide MPTTA with notice of the option deadlines.
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While the MOU acknowledged that MPTTA has a significant interest in the future ownership,
maintenance, and operation of Mass Pike Towers and its continued availability as affordable
housing, nothing in the MOU required defendants to notify MPTTA about any deadlines related
to the Purchase Option Agreement. Under the Purchase Option Agreement, the option to
purchase was triggered by the close of the compliance period as determined under Section
42(i)(1) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986. Section 42(i)(1) states that the “compliance
period” means, “the period of 15 taxable years beginning with the 1st taxable year of the credit
period with respect thereto.” 26 U.S.C. § 42(i)(1). Trinity purchased Mass Pike Towers in 2000,
and under the language of Section 42(i)(1), MPTTA should have known that the compliance
period began in 2000 and ended on December 31, 2014. Nothing prevented MPTTA from
independently seeking the advice of legal counsel or other advisors in preparing for a potential
timely offer to purchase Mass Pike Towers. MPTTA cannot be granted declaratory or injunctive
relief based on its alleged “honest mistake” related to its failure to act in a timely fashion with
respect to the unambiguous terms of the Purchase Option Agreement. Accordingly, Count II fails
to state a claim upon which relief can be granted and is dismissed.
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CONCLUSION
Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs’ Second Substitute Complaint is ALLOWED.
By the Court,
______________________________
Edward P. Leibensperger
Justice of the Superior Court
Dated: October 30, 2017
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Spinazola v. Mass. Environmental Associates, Inc., et al. (Lawyers Weekly No. 12-078-17)

1
COMMONWEALTH OF MASSACHUSETTS
SUFFOLK, ss. SUPERIOR COURT
CIVIL ACTION
NO. 0684CV00949BLS1
ROSEMARY SPINAZOLA, as Executrix of the Estate of Clarence Spinazola and as Co-Trustee of the Clarence Spinazola 1994 Revocable Trust
vs.
MASS. ENVIRONMENTAL ASSOCIATES, INC. and PATRICK J. HANNON
MEMORANDUM OF DECISION AND ORDER ON MOTION TO SUBSTITUTE ASSIGNEE, KING ROOT CAPITAL, LLC, AS PLAINTIFF AND REQUEST FOR EXECUTION
This case was filed on March 6, 2006. On March 8, 2007, a Final Judgment by Default Upon Assessment of Damages by the Court entered in favor of the plaintiff, Rosemary Spinazola, as Executrix of the Estate of Clarence Spinazola and as Co-Trustee of the Clarence Spinazola 1994 Revocable Trust (the Judgment)1, in the amount of $ 982,316, with interest from the date of filing. On August 20, 2007, the defendants filed a “Motion to Vacate Judgment by Default for Failure to Produce Discovery and for Failure to Comply with Court Orders.” On September 18, 2007, that motion was denied. Then, nearly ten years later, the motion now before the court was filed. It is styled: “Motion to Substitute Assignee, King Root Capital, LLC, as Plaintiff and Request for Execution” (the Motion). In that motion, King Root Capital, LLC (King Root) alleges that: (1) Spinazola assigned her interest in the Judgment to ABCD Holdings, LLC (ABCD Holdings or, simply, ABCD); (2) ABCD, thereafter, assigned its interest to King Root; (3) after accounting for payments by the defendants and the further accrual of post-
1 It is not clear to the court whether the judgment is in favor of Rosemary Spinazola, individually, or the Estate or a Trust. The court will simply use the term “plaintiff.”
2
judgment interest, as of October 18, 2016 the Judgment balance is $ 2,055,540.59, with interest accruing from that date; and (4) the court should “substitute it as the plaintiff in this case and issue an execution in its name [in that amount].”
The defendants appeared by counsel and opposed the motion. The principal grounds for their opposition was that the sole member of ABCD is attorney George A. McLaughlin, III, whose brother is the sole member of King Root. McLaughlin represented defendant Hannon for a number of years, and, in particular, in connection with the negotiation and execution of a Settlement Agreement between the plaintiff and Hannon pursuant to which the Judgment would be satisfied in full by payment to plaintiff of $ 400,000 according to a payment schedule (the Agreement).2 The defendants also alleged that McLaughlin diverted funds available to pay the balance of the $ 400,000 due under the Settlement Agreement to other entities.3 Based on these allegations, the defendants assert that the assignments “are void against public policy, fatally infected by McLaughlin’s misuse of confidential client information and self-dealing.”4
At an initial hearing on the Motion, the court ruled that an evidentiary hearing was necessary to consider the defendants’ public policy arguments and scheduled an evidentiary hearing for May 1, 2017. A hearing was convened on that day. Three witnesses testified: the plaintiff’s lawyer, McLaughlin, and his brother; 23 exhibits were entered in evidence.
2 It appears undisputed that Hannon did not fulfill his obligations under the Agreement.
3 The defendants also generally assert questions concerning the validity of the terms of the assignment.
4 McLaughlin’s numerous disputes with Hannon over the last five years are recounted in at least three written decisions: Hannon v ABCD Holdings, LLC, First Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 15-2269 (Oct. 7, 2016) (the “Bankruptcy Case,” in which the First Circuit affirmed the dismissal of Hannon’s bankruptcy petition and denial of discharge based on his making false statements in financial reports filed in the bankruptcy court); ABCD Holdings, LLC v. ABC&D Recycling, Inc., Hampshire Sup. Ct. No. 12-0171 (Jan. 9, 2013) (“the Loan and Warrants Case,” in which the Superior Court (Carey, J.) found that loans to Hannon controlled entities from McLaughlin controlled entities were enforceable because Hannon was represented by competent, independent counsel when the loans were made and warrants which were issued in connection with the loans properly exercised); and ABCD Holdings, LLC v. Patrick J. Hannon, Suffolk Sup.Ct. No. 16-1840 (June 24, 2016) (the “Collection Case,” in which the Superior Court (Salinger, J.) found that ABCD was likely to succeed in obtaining a judgment on Hannon’s guarantees of loans to entities he controlled, but denying preliminary injunctive relief freezing Hannon’s assets because the relief requested could only be granted to a judgment creditor).
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FINDINGS OF FACT
Based on the testimony of the witnesses, the exhibits, decisions entered in other cases, and reasonable inferences drawn therefrom, the court makes the following findings of fact, by a preponderance of the evidence.
McLaughlin has been a member of the bar of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court since 1985. He is a principal in the firm, McLaughlin Brothers P.C. He represented Hannon and various businesses that Hannon controlled on a variety of matters from 2006 until 2012, but did not represent the defendants in this case (Hannon and Mass. Environmental Associates, Inc. (MEA)) prior to the time judgment entered against them. However, he did represent them in the negotiation of the Settlement Agreement with the plaintiff’s counsel, Peter Sutton, a partner in the Boston firm, Reimer & Braunstein. The Agreement was executed on November 16, 2007. As relevant to this case, it provided that if Hannon made periodic payments (in the aggregate $ 400,000) according to a schedule set out in the Agreement (the last of which was due on November 1, 2008), he and MEA would be released from any claims under the Judgment. If he breached the Agreement, the plaintiff would be entitled to enforce the Judgment, and the defendants would be credited with any payments made pursuant the Agreement.
McLaughlin also represented Hannon in connection with another substantial judgment that had been entered against him. He was similarly able to negotiate with that judgment creditor an arrangement in which the total amount of the judgment would be reduced if periodic payments were made on an agreed schedule. Apparently, for reasons not explained at the hearing, Hannon was due payments from an entity called: Casella Waste Systems (Casella). This judgment creditor required that these Casella payments be made to McLaughlin, who would then
4
be responsible for paying the creditor. McLaughlin described the arrangement, pursuant to which he received all payments due Hannon from Casella and then made distributions to creditors, Hannon and McLaughlin’s own law firm for legal fees, as an escrow agreement. There is, however, no evidence that a written escrow agreement was ever prepared. A schedule showing receipts from Casella and payments made to various payees, over the period January 21, 2010 to March 20, 2012, was offered in evidence. It reflects approximately $ 572,000 in receipts from Casella and 570,500 of payments made to various payees (of which $ 146,502 went to Hannon) over that period. Hannon did not challenge the accuracy of the schedule at the hearing. The court credits McLaughlin’s testimony that he only made payments out of the Casella account after clearing them with Hannon, at least to the point that McLaughlin received notice of Hannon’s bankruptcy petition.
Hannon defaulted on his payments under the Agreement. At some point, McLaughlin negotiated a reinstatement of the Agreement in return for a $ 25,000 payment, not to be counted toward the $ 400,000 settlement amount. In an email from Sutton to McLaughlin dated June 14, 2011, Sutton confirmed that Agreement was “reinstated,” but if Hannon failed to make monthly payments of $ 5,000 “the full amount of the judgment will become due.” According to the email, $ 140,500 then remained outstanding. The Casella account suggests that Hannon stopped making payments to Reimer & Braunstein, for the benefit of the plaintiff, in January, 2012. The court credits McLaughlin’s testimony that he never redirected payments from this account to other creditors that Hannon had instructed him to pay to Reimer & Braunstein.
In July, 2011, through an entity controlled by him (Bright Horizon Finance, LLC), McLaughlin loaned Hannon $ 219,759 to purchase an interest in a company called ABC&D Recycling. The details surrounding the loan and Hannon’s default on it are described in the Loan
5
and Warrants Case. See n. 4, supra.
In May, 2012, Hannon and his wife filed a bankruptcy petition under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code (later converted to a Chapter 7 petition). McLaughlin and ABCD Holdings filed proofs of claim in the bankruptcy proceeding, as did the plaintiff. Sutton, as attorney for the plaintiff, examined Hannon concerning the Judgment, Agreement and his assets in the course of those proceeding. McLaughlin caused ABCD Holdings and other companies he then controlled to file an adversary complaint challenging Hannon’s right to a discharge in the bankruptcy proceeding based upon allegedly false income statements filed with the Bankruptcy Court. The Bankruptcy Court found for ABCD Holdings and dismissed the petition, denying Hannon a discharge. This ruling was affirmed by the District Court and by the First Circuit Court of Appeals in the Bankruptcy Case.
On June 10, 2016, McLaughlin caused ABCD Holdings, Inc. and another entity he controlled to file the Collection Case in the Suffolk Superior Court against Hannon and a number of other individuals and entities (some of which were reach and apply defendants); it was assigned to BLS 2. ABCD Holdings moved for a preliminary injunction against Hannon enjoining him from encumbering or disposing of any of his assets or income, except to satisfy ordinary living or business expenses. In a written opinion dated June 24, 2016, the court (Salinger, J.) denied ABCD Holdings’ motion finding that: “Since Plaintiffs are not yet judgment creditors of Hannon, the Court may not exercise its general equity jurisdiction to temporarily grant injunctive relief in the nature of a creditors’ bill attachment.”
Sutton read an article describing the June 24th decision in the July 8, 2016 edition of Lawyers Weekly. He telephoned McLaughlin offering to sell him the Judgment entered in this case. On July 11, 2016, McLaughlin emailed Sutton: “Hi Peter-Please send me the Assignment
6
of the Spinazola matter for collection or whatever you were going to send, as I want to spend some time this summer trying to get some money out of Mr. Hannon.” Thereafter, Sutton and McLaughlin negotiated over the terms of the assignment of the Judgment. Sutton demanded $ 10,000 plus 50% of whatever McLaughlin recovered, after McLaughlin was reimbursed the $ 10,000 and costs of collection, and McLaughlin agreed. McLaughlin sent Sutton drafts of the documents to memorialize their agreement. Dissatisfied with his draft, Sutton had a member of his firm prepare the transactional documents. They consisted of an “Agreement Pursuant to a Non-Recourse Assignment of Judgment and Indemnification Dated as of the 14th Day of September, 2016” and a “Non-Recourse Assignment of Judgment and Indemnification Agreement” also dated as of September 14, 2016. Under these documents, the plaintiff assigned to ABCD Holdings her rights under the Judgment. On September 15, 2015, another entity controlled by McLaughlin (Rising Tides LLC) provided Reimer & Braunstein with a check for $ 10,000.
On December 8, 2016, ABCD Holdings sold the Assignment of Judgment to King Root under exactly the same terms as ABCH Holdings purchased it from the plaintiff. In fact, McLaughlin appears to have used the same two transactional documents drafted by Reimer & Braunstein that Sutton used to sell him the Assignment, just changing the names of the parties and the dates. King Root attempted to pay ABCH Holdings for the Judgment on December 8, 2016, but that check was returned for insufficient funds as King Root then had only $ 751.14 in its checking account. Thereafter, $ 10,000 was deposited in the King Root account, and another check issued to ABCD Holdings on December 15, 2016. Also on December 15, 2016, King Root’s attorney served Hannon with the motion now before the court.
7
RULINGS OF LAW
Mass.R.Civ.P. 25(c) provides: “In case of any transfer of interest, the action may be continued by or against the original party, unless the court upon motion directs the person to whom the interest is transferred to be substituted in the action or joined with the original party.” The court has found no Massachusetts case, nor any reference in the Massachusetts Practice Series, addressing the right of an assignee of a judgment to bring a motion, long after the entry of final judgment, seeking to be substituted as the party plaintiff and then to have an execution issued in its name. There are, however, federal cases in which a court has done this under the federal version of Rule 25(c), although it appears that this generally occurs when a corporate judgment creditor becomes the successor to another corporate entity by merger or other acquisition. See Vision Bank v. Algernon Land Co., L.L.C., 2012 WL 827011 (S.D. Al., March 12, 2012) and cases collected there. Whether Massachusetts would follow the federal approach, especially when a judgment is sold ten years after its entry, is not clear. However, as neither party has addressed this issue, the court will assume that it has this authority.
Hannon’s first argument in opposition to the Motion is factual. Hannon notes that in February and March of 2012, $ 131,667.02 was paid from the Casella account to McLaughlin’s company, Bright Horizon, in partial repayment of its loan to Hannon’s companies. According to Hannon, this money should have been used to pay the Judgment. However, as noted above, the court credited McLaughlin’s testimony that he did not make any payments from the Casella account that Hannon had not cleared. Additionally, on January 26, 2012, $ 55,000 was paid from the Casella account to Hannon, who apparently chose not to pay any of that sum to the plaintiff.5
5 The court notes that Hannon did not testify at the hearing and did not offer any evidence to rebut McLaughlin’s assertion that he pre-cleared payments from the account or to explain why Hannon did not make monthly payments to Reimer & Braunstein when he received such a substantial payment himself.
8
Hannon next argues that the assignment is void because it violates public policy. In support of this proposition he cites New Hampshire Ins. Co., Inc. v. McCann, 429 Mass. 202 (1999) in which the Supreme Judicial Court stated: “We think the [legal malpractice] claim should be assignable unless some clear rule of law of professional responsibility, or some matter of public policy, necessitates that the assignment should not be enforced.” Id. at 210. In seeking to establish that a clear rule of professional responsibility is violated by the assignment in this case, Hannon directs the court to Otis v. Arbella Mut. Ins. Co., No. CA 99-2907-F, 2003 WL 21385792 (Mass. Super. Apr. 18, 2003), aff’d 443 Mass. 634. Otis, however, is another case involving the assignment of a legal malpractice claim (not a judgment), and the assignment there at issue bears no resemblance to the assignment in this case.
In Otis, the plaintiff/assignee of a legal malpractice claim was also the plaintiff in a personal injury case in which the defendant sought to avoid liability by asserting that Otis was comparatively negligent. When a judgment far in excess of the limits of the defendant’s policy entered after trial, Otis obtained an assignment of the defendant’s putative legal malpractice claim against his defense counsel, premised on the theory that defense counsel had done an inadequate job of proving that Otis’ own negligence caused the accident. Otis, using the same trial counsel that prevailed in the personal injury action, now as the assignee of the legal malpractice claim, intended to prove that he was the principal cause of his own injuries and the assignor’s defense lawyers were negligent. The Superior Court properly concluded that under these circumstances, Otis and his lawyer were both engaging in “disreputable public role reversal” that should not be permitted.
In this case, McLaughlin did not represent Hannon until after a judgment of default
9
entered against him. Moreover, and more importantly, McLaughlin (as de facto assignee)6 does not have to prove anything. He is not the assignee of a claim against Hannon, he is the assignee of a final judgment. In particular, McLaughlin does not have to prove facts contrary to those proved to obtain the judgment, and, therefore, there is no “public role reversal.”
Next Hannon argues that under the Massachusetts Rules of Professional Conduct, the assignment is void as a matter of public policy. Hannon first directs the court to Rule 19(c) which states, as relevant to this case:
A lawyer who has formerly represented a client in a matter or whose present or former firm has formerly represented a client in a matter shall not thereafter:
(1) Use confidential information relating to the representation to the disadvantage of the former client or for the lawyer’s advantage or the advantage of a third person . . . .
“Confidential information” is not specifically defined in the Rules, but Comment 3A to the Editor’s Notes to Rule 16 explains, as relevant to this case:
“Confidential information” consists of information gained during or relating to the representation of a client, whatever its source, that is . . . (b) likely to be embarrassing or detrimental to the client if disclosed, or (c) information that the lawyer has agreed to keep confidential. “Confidential information” does not ordinarily include . . . (ii) information that is generally known in the local community or in the trade, field or profession to which the information relates. . . . Information that is “generally known in the local community or in the trade, field or profession to which the information relates” includes information that is widely known. Information about a client contained in a public record that has received widespread publicity would fall within this category. On the other hand, a client’s disclosure of conviction of a crime in a different state a long time ago or disclosure of a secret marriage would be protected even if a matter of public record because such information was not “generally known in the local community.”
In this case, the court finds that McLaughlin did not use confidential information gained through his representation of Hannon to obtain an assignment of the Judgment. One can imagine
6 The court recognizes that the actual assignee was ABCD Holdings, which then transferred the assignment to McLaughlin’s brother’s firm, King Root. For reasons that are discussed, infra, the court disregards these corporate entities in addressing the validity of the assignment.
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a set of circumstances in which a lawyer who previously represented a client in negotiating an agreement with a judgement creditor, like the one at issue here, would violate Rule 9(c) by purchasing the judgment. For example, if, as a result of a prior representation, the lawyer knew that the full amount of the judgment was still outstanding because the former client/debtor had breached the payment agreement and then sought out the judgment creditor some time later for purpose of purchasing it, this might well constitute a misuse of confidential client information. That is not what happened in this case.
Here, Hannon first accepted the possibility that his lawyer could become his creditor in 2011, when he borrowed money from McLaughlin7. In 2012, he unavoidably and permanently altered his relationship with McLaughlin when he filed for bankruptcy, defaulted on the loans, and thereby caused McLaughlin to be adverse to him in the bankruptcy proceedings. Indeed, McLaughlin was forced to pay Hannon’s bankruptcy estate some of the loan repayments because they were held to be preferences. The Judgment, the Agreement, and the McLaughlin loans all became a matter of public record in this community when they became the subject of the bankruptcy proceedings. Sutton even examined Hannon with respect to the Judgment and the Agreement during those proceedings. Finally, McLaughlin did not use confidential information to seek out the holder of the Judgment. It was Sutton who believed that he might be able to recover something for his client when he read the decision in the Collection Case which specifically explained that McLaughlin could not obtain a freeze order against Hannon’s assets because he was not yet a judgment creditor.
Hannon also argues that McLaughlin would have learned confidential information concerning Hannon’s assets when he represented him in negotiating deals with Hannon’s
7 Again, the court recognizes that the loans went from McLaughlin controlled entities to Hannon controlled entities, but, for purposes of this professional responsibility analysis the court disregards the LLCs.
11
creditors. The court finds no evidence that McLaughlin presently has any confidential information concerning Hannon’s assets. In denying, McLaughlin preliminary relief in the Collection Case, Judge Salinger specifically pointed-out that McLaughlin’s allegations concerning Hannon’s assets were based on “information and belief.” Moreover, McLaughlin has already engaged in litigation adverse to Hannon concerning Hannon’s assets—not only in the Collection Case, but also in the adversary proceeding which McLaughlin filed against Hannon in the Bankruptcy Case.
Hannon also bases his public policy arguments on Rule of Professional Conduct 19(a) which states:
A lawyer who has formerly represented a client in a matter shall not thereafter represent another person in the same or a substantially related matter in which that person’s interests are materially adverse to the interests of the former client unless the former client gives informed consent, confirmed in writing.
Hannon argues that the enforcement of the Judgment is a matter substantially related to the negotiation of the Agreement ten years ago. Perhaps, although Hannon stopped making payments under the Agreement many years ago, and it is obviously no longer in force. In any event, McLaughlin is not representing any party adverse to Hannon. Rather, in purchasing the Judgment, he was acting as a principal not an attorney or agent. The Rule does not address this circumstance. Rather, under many situations, McLaughlin’s actions would run afoul of Rule 19(c). In this case, for the reasons discussed above, they do not. McLaughlin was already a creditor of Hannon and adverse to him in many actions when he purchased the Judgment.
In the end, the court finds that there is something unseemly about McLaughlin purchasing a judgment against Hannon where he previously represented Hannon in negotiating an arrangement for its payment with the original judgment creditor. Furthermore, the court finds
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that the transfer of the assignment from ABCD Holdings to King Root did not ameliorate the optics of the situation, it made them worse. ABCD Holdings is a limited liability company with one member and manager—McLaughlin. King Root is a limited liability company with one member and manager—McLaughlin’s brother. The transaction between ABCD Holdings and King Root was not an arm’s length commercial sale. ABCD Holdings simply transferred the Judgment to King Root on exactly the same terms as ABCD Holdings purchased it from the plaintiff. In fact, McLaughlin used the transactional documents prepared by Reimer & Braunstein; he just changed the names and date. If the assignment was void as against public policy when held by McLaughlin’s LLC, it was also void when owned by his brother’s LLC.
While too much should not be read into the SJC’s decision in New Hampshire Ins. Co., Inc. v. McCann, which was case in which the SJC was addressing the broad question of whether legal malpractice claims should be assignable, there the Court stated: “We think the claim should be assignable unless some clear rule of law of professional responsibility, or some matter of public policy, necessitates that the assignment should not be enforced.” As discussed above this is not a case in which a clear rule of law or professional responsibility prevents assignment. With respect to the public policy concern raised by this assignment, McLaughlin and Hannon have been adverse to one another in a number of cases over the last five years. McLaughlin’s testimony at the evidentiary hearing suggested that their animosity has spilled-over into personal matters that have been addressed in District Courts. Under these unique circumstances, the court finds that there are no prevailing public policy reasons that prevent McLaughlin from purchasing the right to enforce an unsatisfied judgment entered ten years ago in a case in which he did not represent Hannon.
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ORDER
For the foregoing reasons, King Root’s motion to substitute it as the plaintiff in this action and for the issuance of an execution pursuant to G.L. c. 235, § 19 is ALLOWED. King Root shall however submit a sworn statement calculating the amount of the execution that the clerk shall issue. This statement shall credit Hannon with all payments made to plaintiff, including the $ 25,000 paid to reinstate the Agreement.
___________________
Mitchell H. Kaplan
Justice of the Superior Court
Dated: May 9, 2017 read more

Posted by Stephen Sandberg - June 30, 2017 at 10:33 pm

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Now You Can Get Anywhere in Mass. With Google Maps

You can now plan a trip across the state using Google Maps.

With the state's public transit system available through Google Maps, you won't have to check multiple websites for train and bus schedules.
South End Patch News

Posted by Stephen Sandberg - July 31, 2013 at 3:11 pm

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Roof Deck Fire at Mass. Ave. Causes $200,000 in Damage

Boston Fire Departments puts out the burning roof deck at 492 Mass. Ave. Officials estimate the damage to cost $  200,000. Photo courtesy of Mario Nimock

The Boston Fire Department responded to a visible two-alarm deck fire on a roof deck on Tuesday evening at 492 Mass. Ave. 

Two alarms were ordered by the District 4 Chief. No injuries were re
South End Patch News

Posted by Stephen Sandberg - July 3, 2013 at 3:47 am

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Section of Mass Pike to Close Overnight

Storrow Drive eastbound will be down to one lane at night for the next 6 to 8 weeks.

A section of the Mass Pike will be closed overnight as crews continue to fix a lighting and ventilation issue caused by a Sunday power outage.

The Prudential Tunnel will be closed to vehicular traffic between 1 and 5 a.m. at the latest Monday, according to a Massachusetts State Police alert Sunday evening.

The alert continues:

MassDOT urges motorists to allow extra time to reach their destination during this time frame. The closure is being implemented as a public safety precaution. NStar will be performing electrical work that may impact the tunnel’s lighting and ventilation systems.

Motorists traveling East on the Pike will be detoured to Storrow Drive East via Exit 18/Allston-Brighton. Truckers must find an alternate route.

Pike West travelers will follow I-93 Southbound to Mass Ave.

I-93 Northbound and Southbound travelers destined for the Pike West will be detoured to Mass Ave.
 
For transportation news and updates visit MassDOT at our website:
www.mass.gov/massdot, blog: www.mass.gov/blog/transportation, or follow MassDOT on twitter atwww.twitter.com/massdot and Facebookatwww.facebook.com/massdotinfo. read more

Posted by Stephen Sandberg - June 10, 2013 at 12:43 am

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Week in Review: Fire at Mass Ave Apartment, South End Chefs

Boston Fire Department Logo

The following are the top articles on South End Patch from May 13 to May 17, 2013: 

South Enders Celebrate Marriage Equality Anniversary at Public Garden

Friday marks the 9th anniversary of the law that allowed gay and lesbian couples to marry in Massachusetts.

Three Displaced by Morning Fire on Mass Ave read more

Posted by Stephen Sandberg - May 19, 2013 at 9:50 am

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Three Displaced by Morning Fire on Mass Ave

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Three South End residents are displaced after a small fire broke out in a 2nd floor apartment on Massachusetts Ave. in the South End on Wednesday morning, according to the Boston Fire Department.

The fire started around 9:40 a.m. inside a unit at 528 Massachusetts Ave. Spokesperson Stephen McDonald said no one was home at the time, and no one was injured.

Damage to the apartment was estimated at $ 100,000 due to the fire, smoke, and extensive water damage on the 2nd floor where the fire started, down to the first floor and basement. 

The American Red Cross said this afternoon they assisted three people from two units that were displaced by the fire. 

“Volunteers provided them emergency temporary shelter, a hotel stay, and funds for food and clothing,” said spokesperson Ashley Studley in a statement. 

The cause of the fire is still under investigation, said McDonald. 

SOUTH END PATCH: Facebook | Twitter | E-mail Updates read more

Posted by Stephen Sandberg - May 15, 2013 at 9:11 pm

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Mass. Tax Plans: Too Much, Too Soon? Or Too Little, Too Slow?

Posted by Stephen Sandberg - April 6, 2013 at 12:49 pm

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Mass. To Install High Speed, Cashless Toll System

New high speed tolls would be better for drivers, but would put 400 toll takers out of work.

Want less waiting in line and sifting for loose change on the Mass Pike? According to state transportation officials, you’ll soon get your wish.

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation will install electronic tolling system that replaces the current E-ZPass and toll-taker set up with overhead censors that read E-ZPasses on cars traveling at high speeds and would generate a monthly bills to drivers who do not have an E-ZPass, according to WBUR.

The system would cost $ 100 million to build, but if the toll takers are eliminated, the system will pay for itself in about two to three years, the story says.

The new system could put about 400 toll collectors out of work, but some could be retained and placed in other state position, according to the story.

WBUR reports the Tobin Bridge tolls will be replaced by 2014 and the Mass Pike tolls will be gone before 2016.

SOUTH END PATCH: Facebook | Twitter | E-mail Updates read more

Posted by Stephen Sandberg - April 1, 2013 at 1:37 pm

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WATCH: Drew Bledsoe Complains about Wine Law at Mass. State House

Massachusetts is one of 11 states that doesn’t allow out-of-state vineyards to directly ship wine to their customers, and former New England Patriots quarterback Drew Bledsoe is urging Beacon Hill legislators to pass a bill that would change that law.

“Very simply put, this bill is fair, and it’s right. It’s fair to the consumers to be able to purchase wine directly from the wineries, it’s fair to the small businesses like ours who want to sell directly to the customers, it’s right for the state – it actually increases revenue to the state – and in the states that this has happened, it’s also benefitted the package stores and the distributors,” Bledsoe said during a press conference on the State House steps Thursday afternoon. 

The bill, called an Act Regulating the Direct Shipment of Wine, was put forth by Rep. Theodore Speliotis (D-Danvers) on Jan. 22. Right now it’s in the Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee and no vote is scheduled, according to Jeremy Benson of Free the Grapes. read more

Posted by Stephen Sandberg - March 21, 2013 at 9:09 pm

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