Posts tagged "Condominium"

Trustees of the Cambridge Point Condominium Trust v. Cambridge Point, LLC, et al. (Lawyers Weekly No. 10-014-18)

NOTICE:  All slip opinions and orders are subject to formal revision and are superseded by the advance sheets and bound volumes of the Official Reports.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   SJC-12327   Trustees of the Cambridge Point Condominium Trust  vs.  Cambridge Point, LLC, & others.[1]       Middlesex.     October 5, 2017. – January 19, 2018.   Present:  Gants, C.J., Gaziano, Lowy, Budd, Cypher, & Kafker, JJ.     Condominiums, By-laws, Management, Common area.  Real Property, Condominium.  Public Policy.       Civil action commenced in the Superior Court Department on April 3, 2014.   A motion for partial summary judgment was heard by Rosalind H. Miller, J.; a motion for reconsideration was considered by her; and motions to dismiss were heard by Peter B. Krupp, J.   The Supreme Judicial Court granted an application for direct appellate review.     Edmund A. Allcock for the plaintiffs. John F. Gleavy for CDI Commercial Development, Inc., & another. David Aleksic, for Frank Fodera & another, was present but did not argue. David T. Keenan, for Anahid Mardiros, was present but did not argue. Henry A. Goodman & Ellen A. Shapiro, for Community Associations Institute, amicus curiae, submitted a brief. Cailin M. Burke, Julie B. Heinzelman, Diane R. Rubin, Thomas O. Moriarty, & Kimberly A. Bielan, for Real Estate Bar Association for Massachusetts, Inc., & another, amici curiae, submitted a brief.     GANTS, C.J.  In this action, a condominium trust’s board of trustees has filed suit against the developers of the condominium for damages arising from various design and construction defects in the condominium’s common areas and facilities.  The condominium bylaws, however, provide that the trustees cannot bring any litigation involving the common areas and facilities against anyone other than a unit owner unless they first obtain the consent of at least eighty per cent of the unit owners.  The issue on appeal is whether this bylaw provision is void, either because it violates the Condominium Act (act), G. L. c. 183A, or because it contravenes public policy.  We conclude that it is void because it contravenes public policy.[2] Background.  In 2007, Cambridge Point, LLC, as the declarant of a predominantly residential forty-two-unit condominium in Cambridge, filed in the Middlesex South District registry of deeds a master deed, a declaration of trust, and the bylaws of the Cambridge Point Condominium Trust (trust).  The trust’s board of trustees (trustees) is responsible for administering the affairs of the trust.  Among the powers and duties committed to the trustees is the authority under § 1(o) of […]

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Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - January 19, 2018 at 11:29 pm

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Grand Manor Condominium Association, et al. v. City of Lowell (Lawyers Weekly No. 10-015-18)

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   SJC-12294   GRAND MANOR CONDOMINIUM ASSOCIATION & others[1]  vs.  CITY OF LOWELL.       Middlesex.     October 5, 2017. – January 19, 2018.   Present:  Gants, C.J., Gaziano, Lowy, Budd, Cypher, & Kafker, JJ.     Hazardous Materials.  Massachusetts Oil and Hazardous Material Release Prevention Act.  Real Property, Environmental damage.  Limitations, Statute of.  Practice, Civil, Statute of limitations.  Damages, Hazardous waste contamination.       Civil action commenced in the Superior Court Department on October 10, 2012.   The case was tried before Kathe M. Tuttman, J.   The Supreme Judicial Court granted an application for direct appellate review.     Alan B. Rubenstein (Stacie A. Kosinski also present) for the plaintiff. C. Michael Carlson, Assistant City Solicitor (Rachel M. Brown, Assistant City Solicitor, also present) for city of Lowell.     KAFKER, J.  The owners of condominium units at Grand Manor and the Grand Manor Condominium Association (collectively, plaintiffs) filed suit against the city of Lowell (city) on October 10, 2012, for the release of hazardous materials at the Grand Manor condominium site.  The plaintiffs brought claims for response costs under G. L. c. 21E, § 4A, and for damage to the plaintiffs’ property under G. L. c. 21E, § 5 (a) (iii).[2]  A jury found that the plaintiffs’ claim under § 5 (a) (iii) was barred by the applicable statute of limitations, G. L. c. 21E, § 11A (4).  The plaintiffs appealed, and we granted their application for direct appellate review.  On appeal, the plaintiffs argue that (1) the statute of limitations did not begin to run until the plaintiffs knew that the property damage was permanent; and (2) the trial judge erred in instructing the jury that the plaintiffs had the burden of persuasion to show that they filed suit within the statute of limitations.  The city contends that the plaintiffs needed to know only that there was environmental damage and that the defendant was the source of the damage, not that the damage was permanent, for the limitations period to begin to run.  The city also contends that the jury were properly instructed. We conclude that a plaintiff must be on notice that he or she has a claim under § 5 (a) (iii) before that claim may be time barred, and that such notice is separate from a plaintiff’s notice that environmental contamination has occurred.  A plaintiff has notice of a claim under § 5 (a) (iii) once the plaintiff learns whether or not […]

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Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - January 19, 2018 at 7:55 pm

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Sewall-Marshal Condominium Association v. 131 Sewall Avenue Condominium Association (Lawyers Weekly No. 11-022-16)

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   15-P-149                                        Appeals Court   Sewall-Marshal Condominium Association  vs.  131 Sewall Avenue Condominium Association. No. 15-P-149. Suffolk.     December 11, 2015. – March 1, 2016.   Present:  Cypher, Wolohojian, & Carhart, JJ. Condominiums, Parking, Common area.  Real Property, Condominium, Registered land.  Contract, Validity.       Civil action commenced in the Land Court Department on March 1, 2007.   The case was heard by Harry M. Grossman, J.     Adam P. Whitney for the defendant. Edward S. Englander for the plaintiff.     WOLOHOJIAN, J.  The parties are neighboring condominium associations in the Coolidge Corner area of Brookline, where parking is at a premium.  In 1978, when both condominiums were controlled by the same developers, they entered into a written agreement concerning the shared use and allocation of parking spots on their respective properties.  Summarized in broad strokes, they agreed that twenty percent of the spots would be reserved for residents of the plaintiff, the smaller of the two condominium associations (Sewall-Marshal), and eighty percent would be reserved for residents of the defendant, the larger one (131 Sewall), at no cost to either side.  This arrangement continued for some twenty-eight years until 131 Sewall notified Sewall-Marshal that it would no longer abide by the agreement.  This suit followed, seeking a declaration concerning the rights of the parties under the agreement.  In essence, 131 Sewall contends that the agreement is unenforceable because it fails to comply with various provisions of G. L. c. 183A, the statute that enables the creation of condominiums, and because it is otherwise an unconscionable contract.  After a bench trial, a judge of the Land Court sitting by designation in the Superior Court disagreed and entered a declaratory judgment in favor of Sewall-Marshal.  We affirm. Background.  The judge’s findings have not been shown to be clearly erroneous, and we summarize them here.  The parties are condominium associations situated on abutting parcels of registered land in Brookline, near Coolidge Corner.  Both associations were created in 1978, pursuant to the provisions of G. L. c. 183A, and their master deeds and by-laws were registered with the Norfolk registry district of the Land Court (registry district).  With certain exceptions, the organizing documents of both entities mirror each other, which is not surprising given that both properties were developed by the same owners, Roger and Matthew Stern. Roger and Matthew, along with Jeffrey Stern, constituted the original […]

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Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - March 1, 2016 at 3:51 pm

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Beacon Towers Condominium Trust v. Alex (Lawyers Weekly No. 10-005-16)

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   SJC-11880   BEACON TOWERS CONDOMINIUM TRUST  vs.  GEORGE ALEX.       Suffolk.     October 5, 2015. – January 7, 2016.   Present:  Gants, C.J., Spina, Cordy, Botsford, Duffly, Lenk, & Hines, JJ.     Arbitration, Attorney’s fees.       Civil action commenced in the Superior Court Department on November 14, 2013.   The case was heard by Frances A. McIntyre, J.   The Supreme Judicial Court on its own initiative transferred the case from the Appeals Court.     J. Mark Dickison (Ryan A. Ciporkin with him) for the defendant. Mark A. Rosen for the plaintiff.     GANTS, C.J.  Under G. L. c. 251, § 10, attorney’s fees may not be awarded in arbitration proceedings “[u]nless otherwise provided in the agreement to arbitrate.”  The issue presented in this case is whether an arbitration panel applying the commercial arbitration rules of the American Arbitration Association (AAA rules), having found that the arbitration agreement did not authorize an award of attorney’s fees, nonetheless may award attorney’s fees based on its finding that “substantially all of the defenses were wholly insubstantial, frivolous and not advanced in good faith.”  The appellant, George Alex, contends that the arbitration panel may award attorney’s fees in these circumstances for either of two reasons:  first, because AAA rule 47(a) [1] authorizes an arbitrator to “grant any remedy or relief that the arbitrator deems just and equitable and within the scope of the agreement of the parties”; or second, because AAA rule 47(d)(ii) provides that an arbitrator may award attorney’s fees if “it is authorized by law,” and the award of attorney’s fees in these circumstances is authorized by G. L. c. 231, § 6F.  We conclude that an arbitrator lacks the authority to award attorney’s fees based on a finding that all the claims or defenses were wholly insubstantial, frivolous, and not advanced in good faith unless the parties have agreed that an arbitrator may award attorney’s fees in these circumstances.  We therefore affirm the Superior Court judge’s order vacating the arbitration panel’s award of attorney’s fees.      Background.  The appellee, Beacon Towers Condominium Trust (trust), is the unit owners’ organization for the Beacon Towers Condominium (condominium), an entity created pursuant to G. L. c. 183A, § 17.  The condominium is comprised of three adjacent buildings in the Back Bay section of Boston, with the addresses of 479, 481, and 483 Beacon Street.  The board of […]

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Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - January 7, 2016 at 4:41 pm

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Residences at Cape Ann Heights Condominium Association v. Halupowski, et al. (Lawyers Weekly No. 11-032-13)

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       12‑P‑1689                                       Appeals Court   RESIDENCES AT CAPE ANN HEIGHTS CONDOMINIUM ASSOCIATION  vs.  BRIAN HALUPOWSKI & others.[1]     No. 12‑P‑1689. Essex.     December 11, 2012.  ‑  February 21, 2013. Present:  Kafker, Milkey, & Agnes, JJ.   Condominiums, Common expenses.  Real Property, Condominium.  Lien.  Practice, Civil, Dismissal.  Jurisdiction, Superior Court, In rem.  Superior Court, Jurisdiction.       Civil action commenced in the Superior Court Department on August 12, 2011.   An appeal from a judgment of dismissal was heard by Green, J., in the Appeals Court, and the case was reported by him to the Appeals Court.     Gary M. Daddario for the plaintiff.     MILKEY, J.  The plaintiff is the owners’ association of a residential condominium located in Gloucester.  It brought this action to enforce a statutory lien on one of the condominium’s units.  The basis of the lien was $ 3,759.55 in unpaid common expenses.  Concluding that the association was unlikely to recover more than $ 25,000, a judge of the Superior Court dismissed the action without prejudice.  See G. L. c. 212, § 3A(b).  The association appealed pursuant to G. L. c. 212, § 3A(c), and the single justice reserved and reported the matter without decision to a full panel of this court.  We reverse. Discussion.  Chapter 183A of the General Laws governs the creation and administration of condominiums.  Pursuant to § 6 of that chapter, the condominium’s common expenses are to be assessed against all units in the condominium in proportion to the units’ interest in the condominium’s common areas, and “[t]he organization of unit owners shall have a lien on a unit for any common expense assessment levied against that unit from the time the assessment becomes due.”  G. L. c. 183A, § 6(a)(i), as amended by St. 1992, c. 400, § 7.  These assessments are levied against the units themselves, and constitute “covenants running with the land.”  Trustees of the Prince Condominium Trust v. Prosser, 412 Mass. 723, 725 (1992).  The lien is enforceable through “a civil action brought in the superior court for the county where [the condominium] lies or in the district court in the judicial district where [the condominium] lies.”  G. L. c. 254, § 5, as amended by St. 2010, c. 350, § 7.  See G. L. c. 183A, § 6(c).  The outcome of such a suit, if successful, is an order for the sale of the unit, subject to the procedures outlined in G. L. c. 254, […]

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Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - February 21, 2013 at 6:31 pm

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