Attorneys Gerard T. Donnelly and Courtney E. Mayo recently obtained dismissals in three (3) actions brought in Massachusetts Superior Court and one (1) in the United States District Court, District of Massachusetts. The duo’s recent successes range from the dismissal of complex civil rights claims to an action involving trespass and diminution of property value. With Donnelly’s extensive experience in municipal law, coupled with Mayo’s excellent writing and courtroom advocacy skills, the two continue to add to an already impressive record of achievement defending municipalities, public employers and private companies in civil rights, discrimination, sexual harassment, wrongful termination and breach of contract claims.
Motion for Summary Judgment Allowed – Trespass / Nuisance / Res Judicata
Donnelly and Mayo successfully moved for summary judgment in an action arising from a vitreous sewage pipe that was leaking into the drinking supply of a commercial property located in the Town of Becket. The plaintiff property owner alleged that the defendant municipalities were aware that the pipe crossed underneath her property and into the leaching system at the time of her purchase of the property in 2002. Plaintiff further alleged that property inspections had not been conducted properly by Town personnel. Plaintiff brought counts for trespass, nuisance and diminution of value of the property against the Town, School District, Board of Health and individual health inspectors. During oral arguments, Mayo argued, in part, that plaintiff’s claims should be dismissed under a theory of res judicata as plaintiff had previously adjudicated some of the same claims, and also argued that the municipality was immune from the intentional tort of trespass. Moreover, Mayo argued that the statute of limitations had lapsed as to certain counts and that presentment was improper pursuant to M.G.L.c. 258 § 4. Berkshire Superior Court Judge Agostini allowed Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment from the bench.
Motion to Dismiss Granted – Civil Rights / False Arrest
Donnelly and Mayo successfully moved to dismiss a civil rights / false arrest action filed against the Town of Shirley and individual police officers following the arrest of a man charged with larceny of heating oil. Judge George A. O’Toole of the United States District Court, District of Massachusetts, agreed that probable cause existed at the time of the arrest, that officers were entitled to qualified immunity and that the action against the Town for failure to supervise and train must fail as probable cause had been established. Judge O’Toole allowed defense counsel’s Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff’s Complaint as to all defendants.
Motion to Dismiss Granted – Civil Rights / No Trespass Order
Donnelly and Mayo earned a dismissal of a Worcester Superior Court action brought by a lessee of commercial property against the Town of Hardwick. The plaintiff alleged that the Town had violated his civil rights and improperly enforced a “No Trespass” order obtained by the lessor of the commercial property where plaintiff operated a business. During oral arguments, Attorney Mayo argued that the plaintiff failed to state a claim under the Massachusetts Civil Rights Act upon which relief could be granted. Mayo further argued that the Massachusetts Civil Rights Act does not permit holding a municipality liable under the theory of vicarious liability. Judge Lemire ruled from the bench and granted defense counsel’s Motion to Dismiss.
Motion to Dismiss Granted – Negligence / Misrepresentation / Improper Drainage
Donnelly also earned a dismissal of a Worcester Superior Court action filed by homeowners against the Town of Grafton stemming from improper drainage / excessive water flow at a subdevelopment located in North Grafton, Massachusetts. The plaintiff homeowners’ complaint alleged negligence, fraud, misrepresentation and violation of 93A against the Town, the property developer and the bank arising from the construction of a faulty drainage system resulting in excessive water flow into the Town’s sewer system. The plaintiffs alleged that the Town was negligent and breached its duty to conduct an examination of the sewer outflow system. The plaintiffs further alleged that the Town should not have approved the subdevelopment and should not have released the bond prior to the resolution of the sewer issue. Defense counsel argued that the Town is immune from liability pursuant to M.G.L. c. 258, §§10, 10(b), 10(e), 10(f) and 10(j), that presentment was untimely, and that plaintiffs’ claims were barred by the statute of repose. Superior Court Judge Kenton Walker agreed and allowed Defendant Town of Grafton’s Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs’ Complaint.