Parties involved in a real estate dispute in Massachusetts are fortunate to have choices when it comes to the venue of the litigation. One of the most strategic decisions that a plaintiff or defendant can make is deciding where to litigate the case. When it comes to real property disputes, the Massachusetts Land Court and the Superior Court have overlapping jurisdiction, also referred to as concurrent jurisdiction, on certain claims. While the Superior Court enjoys broad jurisdiction over a variety of civil and criminal matters, the Land Court specializes in disputes involving real property. Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 212, § 26A, permits either party to remove any non-jury civil action involving "any right, title or interest in land" from the Superior Court to the Land Court. The claim must not be one that entitles a party to a jury trial because the Land Court only conducts jury-waived trials, frequently called bench trials.
Shortly after New York Attorney General Loretta Lynch's 47-count indictment involving FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) was announced in May, legal insiders and outsiders alike were asking how the U.S. was able to coordinate the arrests of foreign citizens in foreign countries for violating U.S. laws. The question--one of jurisdiction--is likely to be examined closely as the FIFA case plays out in federal district court. At the center of the indictment is the claim that FIFA was engaged in a "pattern of racketeering activity," which provides the backbone for the charges under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act ("RICO").
In February, the Massachusetts Appeals Court clarified that the Land Court and Superior Court have exclusive jurisdiction over appeals of permits granted by cities and towns for large-scale development projects. See Skawski v. Greenfield Investors Property Dev., LLC, No. 13-P-1947 (February 27, 2015). The Court relied on G.L. c. 185, § 3A and its prior decision in Buccaneer Dev., Inc. v. Zoning Bd. of Appeals of Lenox, 83 Mass. App. Ct. 40 (2012), in rendering its decision.
As a society, we continue to realize the potential for on-line conduct to have real-world ramifications - something the Middlesex Superior Court further illustrated recently in the context of personal jurisdiction - in the first such opportunity for a Massachusetts trial court to do so. In Taylor v. Taylor, MICV2012-01222, 2013 WL 5988569 (Mass. Super. Ct. 2013), a Massachusetts couple ("Plaintiffs"), alleged their daughter-in-law ("Defendant"), who lives in Florida, engaged in a coordinated campaign to defame them and harm their Massachusetts-based real estate business after she lost a series of motions in divorce proceedings against the Plaintiffs' son in Florida. In their Complaint, the Plaintiffs claimed that Defendant, with the help of a private investigator (also a defendant, with his corporation), made a series of identical on-line postings on consumer websites, purportedly written by a disgruntled former employee and warning potential Massachusetts real estate customers to "[a]void [the Plaintiffs' real estate company] at all costs unless you want to fall victim to another couple [J]ewish scammers." According to the Complaint, these postings further claimed that Plaintiffs both take advantage of their employees and "perpetuate the brainwashing of thousands of innocent, hard working people."
The domicile statute in Massachusetts can be surprisingly confusing, especially when couples often own multiple homes, live in separate cities for professional reasons, or have recently moved to Massachusetts. All of these situations are governed by M.G.L. c. 208, § 4 and the "exceptions" to the domicile statute contained in § 5. Subject to certain exceptions, § 4 precludes a plaintiff from filing a divorce complaint in Massachusetts in the following situations: (1) if the couple has "never lived together as husband and wife" in Massachusetts, or (2) if the "cause" (i.e., the irretrievable breakdown) occurred in another jurisdiction (unless the parties had lived together as husband and wife in Massachusetts and one of them lived in Massachusetts at the time the cause occurred).
The Massachusetts Appeals Court has ruled that a party to a business contract could file suit in Massachusetts even though the contract specified that "jurisdiction shall vest in the State of Illinois." The Appeals Court held that the "jurisdiction shall vest" language is merely permissive and does not require that suit between the contracting parties be brought in Illinois. Boland v. George S. May International Company, No. 11-P-1300, slip op. (Mass.App.Ct. June 7, 2012).