Real Estate Litigation
FITCH represents property owners, managers, and investors in a broad array of real estate and land use litigation throughout Massachusetts, particularly Boston, Cape Cod, Nantucket, and Martha’s Vineyard. We also represent towns, school committees, and local building committees in real estate and land use cases.
We have comprehensive experience in suits involving complex zoning issues, environmental issues, adverse possession, prescriptive easements, beach rights, petitions for partition, rights in easements, defects in record title, forgery and fraud, and problematic titles. Our lawyers have successfully tried numerous eminent domain cases.
FITCH has successfully advocated for clients in disputes concerning commercial leasing, rights in condominiums, and agreements for the purchase and sale of real estate.
We appear on behalf of property owners and other interested parties in municipal, administrative and judicial proceedings involving wetlands protection, historic district commissions, and access for the disabled.
Real Estate Litigation
Real Estate Litigation Case Results
– Zoning Litigation
We have represented numerous clients on appeals from decisions of local planning boards and boards of appeal.
We prevailed before the Boston Zoning Board of Appeal in defending our clients’ right to construct a roof deck on their Beacon Hill home.
When a developer sought to build a large building next to our client’s commercial building that would have blocked our client’s light, air and views, we successfully took action that initially forced the developer to modify the building and eventually forced him to give up the entire project.
We negotiated a favorable resolution of claims of zoning violations brought against our client, a private club, by a neighbor who had constructed a house adjacent to club facilities and then complained about noise levels and obstruction of views.
We prevailed before the Boston Zoning Board of Appeal in preventing a developer from building a three-story condominium building less than 10 feet from our client’s home and thereby blocking our client’s light and views.
A family with valuable waterfront property engaged us to resolve a dispute with a neighbor regarding complicated zoning and adverse possession issues. We negotiated a favorable settlement of all claims within a short time after our engagement.
– Purchase and Sale Agreement Litigation
We represented one of two families that owned a large undeveloped site on Route 128 in an action for specific performance against a buyer who claimed that he/she was excused under an “approvals” contingency in the purchase and sale agreement. A jury found for our clients at trial, and the defendant was required to purchase the property.
We have represented parties to agreements for the purchase and sale of real estate in a large number of cases involving claims for specific performance and damages. In a typical case, our client was the buyer, and a limited partnership was the seller under an agreement for the purchase and sale of a multi-million dollar estate property. Certain of the limited partners attempted to block the sale to our client and claimed that the general partner who signed the agreement on behalf of the seller had lacked the authority to bind the limited partnership. The court allowed our motion for summary judgment and our client obtained performance of the agreement and the property he dearly wanted.
We represented the owners of a commercial property in Boston in a suit for specific performance where the buyer breached the purchase and sale agreement, claiming that environmental conditions excused it from performance. The sale was concluded after negotiations involving, among other things, our ability to prove that no significant environmental conditions existed.
– Adverse Possession
Our client’s prescriptive easement provided vehicular access to his retail business in a suburb west of Boston. When the owner of the burdened estate attempted to block our clients’ use of the easement, we brought an action in Land Court and established our client’s rights through negotiation prior to trial.
We successfully obtained by adverse possession a parcel of land next to our client’s home and defeated counterclaims for destruction of property and trespass brought by the adjacent landowner.
Our client is the record owner of undeveloped land on Nantucket. At a recent trial in the Land Court, we defeated the opposing party’s claim that it had acquired title to the property by reason of adverse possession. The Massachusetts Appeals Court affirmed the judgment in favor of our client.
When a developer sought to obstruct our client’s full use of a delivery driveway and parking area behind our client’s business, we successfully forced the developer to remove the obstruction by bringing claims for adverse possession and prescriptive easement.
– Petitions for Partition
We have represented a number of clients who, as owners of an interest in real property as a tenant in common, are involved in disputes with the other co-owner(s) regarding whether or not the property should be sold or, where feasible, physically divided. These disputes are litigated as petitions for partition in the Probate and Family Court or in the Land Court.
After threatening or initiating litigation, we have recently mediated the resolution of several disputes concerning the disposition of jointly owned real estate. In a recent mediation, the parties agreed to a creative physical partition of valuable waterfront property and the grant of mutual view easements. We often find that, as in this case, our client achieved a highly satisfactory resolution through mediation involving much less time, expense and stress than a trial typically involves.
In a recently litigated case, a court-appointed commissioner sold a large parcel of undeveloped land at an attractive price and result for our client, a minority owner who had been deadlocked in management decisions with the majority owner.
We successfully represented another client in a case where a former friend, whose name had mistakenly been placed on the deed to our client’s home, attempted to force our client to pay him half of the value of the property.
– Eminent Domain Litigation
We represented the owner of an oceanfront estate that was partially taken by the Federal Aviation Authority for runway improvement. The case was tried before a federal judge who awarded substantial damages.
We have represented property owners in multi-million dollar cases involving the taking of property in commercial distribution centers, shopping centers, subdivisions, and industrial parks.
At the trial of an eminent domain case against the Massachusetts Water Resource Authority, we obtained a large jury verdict that included an award for diminution in the value of our client’s property caused by noxious odors associated with the MWRA’s public improvement.
– Historic District Commission Litigation
An abutter tried to halt the renovation of our clients’ home on Nantucket by bringing a Superior Court action challenging the issuance of a Certificate of Appropriateness by the Nantucket Historic District Commission. We brought a motion to dismiss the abutter’s complaint, which the court allowed, thereby enabling our client to proceed with construction.
We successfully challenged the refusal of an historic district commission which refused to issue a Certificate of Appropriateness based upon the location of a driveway and curb cut.
We represented a group of neighbors on Boston’s Beacon Hill who seek to vacate the issuance of a certificate of appropriateness by the Beacon Hill Historic District Commission that permits the construction of a tall, new condominium building in an area that once consisted largely of low-lying stables.
We represent a builder on Nantucket regarding the issuance of a Certificate of Appropriateness by the Nantucket Historic District Commission in proceedings before the Nantucket Superior Court and the Massachusetts Court of Appeals.
– Environmental Litigation
We have extensive experience representing litigants in complex land use matters requiring, for instance, the effective resolution of problems concerning wetlands, endangered species and the presence of toxic materials.
We represented the owners of a commercial property in Boston in a suit for specific performance where the buyer breached the purchase and sale agreement claiming that environmental conditions excused it from performance. The sale was concluded after negotiations involving, among other things, our ability to prove that no significant environmental conditions existed.
Our clients were a group of homeowners who banded together to create a boardwalk providing beach access for the public. At an administrative trial before the Department of Environmental Protection, we prevailed against an abutter who claimed that the project would damage a nesting area of the Northern Harrier Hawk.
One of our clients purchased a home in a northern suburb of Boston and shortly after moving in discovered that the property was contaminated with toxic materials. We brought an action in the Superior Court stating various claims against the real estate agents and the seller. On the eve of trial, the case was settled in mediation on terms that were highly favorable to our client.
– Condominium Litigation
Representing 65 condominium unit owners, we won at trial and in the Massachusetts Appeals Court, defeating the claims of several other condominium unit owners that the common area interests of large condominium development were unlawfully established.