Justia Construction Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
Zoning Board of Appeals of Milton v. HD/MW Randolph Avenue, LLC
The Supreme Judicial Court held that the housing appeals committee had jurisdiction over the projects at issue in this case and the power to remove or modify conditions that made such projects significantly more uneconomic.Under the Massachusetts Comprehensive Permit Act, Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 40B, 20-23, qualifying developers of low or moderate income housing have access to a comprehensive streamline permitting process and expedited appeal before HAC. The Act further authorizes HAC to strike or modify any conditions on a comprehensive permit application that would make it "uneconomic" to proceed with a project. At issue was whether the HAC has the power to reject conditions where a project has received a funding commitment from a public subsidizing agency and the developer receives a comprehensive permit subject to conditions but the rate of return for the original proposal is found to be uneconomic and HAC determines that the imposed conditions make the project "significantly more uneconomic" and therefore rejects them. The Supreme Judicial Court answered the question in the affirmative, holding that HAC is authorized to eliminate conditions that effectively prevent such projects by rendering them significantly more uneconomic. View "Zoning Board of Appeals of Milton v. HD/MW Randolph Avenue, LLC" on Justia Law
D’Allessandro v. Lennar Hingham Holdings, LLC
In this case, the Supreme Judicial Court responded to a certified question posed by a judge in a federal district court concerning the application of the six-year statute of repose in Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 260, 2B to claims regarding alleged defects in the design and construction of the common areas of a multi-building, multi-phase condominium.The Supreme Judicial Court answered (1) regardless of how many phases of the development there may be or how many buildings are within each phase, where a condominium development is comprised of multiple buildings each building constitutes a discrete improvement for purposes of Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 260, 2B such that the opening of each individual building to its intended use or the substantial completion of the individual building and the taking of possession for occupancy by the owner triggers the statute of repose under section 2B with respect to the common areas and limited common areas of that building; and (2) where a particular improvement is integral to, and intended to serve, multiple buildings the statute of repose begins to run when that discrete improvement is substantially complete and open to its intended use. View "D'Allessandro v. Lennar Hingham Holdings, LLC" on Justia Law
Commonwealth v. Sanchez
In this case involving procedures and remedies for impermissible peremptory challenges the Supreme Judicial Court adopted the language of the Federal standard for the first step of a challenge pursuant to Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79 (1986), and retired the language of "pattern" and "likelihood" governing the first-step inquiry under Commonwealth v. Soares, 444 U.S. 881 (1979).While incarcerated, Defendant argued on appeal and in pursuing postconviction relief that the trial judge did not appropriately inquire as to whether the prosecutor unconstitutionally struck African-American men from the jury. The Appeals Court determined that the trial judge did not err in deciding not to continue past the first step of the Batson-Soares inquiry. In granting Defendant's petition for writ of habeas corpus, the First Circuit concluded that the trial judge unreasonably applied Federal law. Defendant then filed a motion for a new trial or, in the alternative, for a reduced sentence. The motion judge reduced the verdict under Mass. R. Crim. P. 25(b)(2) and resentenced Defendant. The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the order and remanded for retrial, holding (1) the judge improperly reduced the verdict, and the principles of double jeopardy did not preclude retrying Defendant; and (2) adopting the Federal formulation of the Batson-Soares test will better identify improper peremptory challenges. View "Commonwealth v. Sanchez" on Justia Law
City Electric Supply Co. v. Arch Insurance Co.
In this case involving a claimant seeking to enforce a target lien bond by commencing a civil action pursuant to the mechanic's lien statute, Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 254, 14, the Supreme Judicial Court vacated the superior court's order allowing Defendant Arch Insurance Company's (Arch) summary judgment, holding that the lien statute contains no requirement that the claimant record an attested copy of the complaint in the registry of deeds.City Electric Supply Company (CES) supplied electrical materials for a construction project in Brookline and perfected a mechanic's lien on the Brookline property. Later, general contractor Tocci Building Corporation issued and recorded a target lien bond in the amount of the mechanic's lien CES had created. The target lien bond listed Arch as surety. CES then filed an action against Arch seeking to enforce the target lien bond. A superior court judge granted summary judgment for Arch, concluding that suit on a lien bond requires an attested copy of the complaint to be recorded. The Supreme Judicial Court reversed and remanded the case, holding that a party seeking to enforce a target lien bond need not record a copy of a complaint in the registry of deeds as a condition precedent to enforcing the bond. View "City Electric Supply Co. v. Arch Insurance Co." on Justia Law
Bridgwood v. A.J. Wood Construction, Inc.
The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the superior court’s dismissal of this complaint under the statute of repose, holding that a claim alleging that a building contractor committed an unfair or deceptive act under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 93A, 2 and 9 by violating Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 142A, 17(10) is subject to the six-year statute of repose set forth in Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 260, 2B.In 2016, Plaintiff brought this action alleging that renovations performed in 2000 to 2001 by Defendants caused a fire in her home in 2012. A superior court judge dismissed the complaint as untimely under the six-year statute of repose. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) Plaintiff’s chapter 93A claim was sufficiently tort-like to bring it within the ambit of the statute of repose; and (2) because this action was commenced more than six years after the work was completed, it was barred by chapter 260, section 2B, and therefore properly dismissed. View "Bridgwood v. A.J. Wood Construction, Inc." on Justia Law