Real Estate Litigation

Overview                                                                                                                                                                                   

The Real Estate Litigation Group consists of lawyers with the essential background and skills to advance their clients’ objectives in the area of real estate litigation. Our representation spans these disciplines:

  • general real estate litigation
  • land use and zoning
  • mortgage litigation
  • real property tax appeals
  • condominiums/common interest communities

Our Services and Our Team

The members of the group are seasoned litigators who are knowledgeable in all aspects of real property law, "speak the language" of real estate, and understand the fundamental elements of real property law and transactions. The group also works closely with and leverages the resources of other Robinson+Cole practices to create multidisciplinary teams to advocate for our real estate clients and to resolve their disputes. The Real Estate Litigation Group represents clients before state and federal courts, both trial and appellate, as well as in administrative hearings, arbitration, and mediation.

General Real Estate Litigation

We provide litigation services and counseling to developers, lenders, owners, lessors, and lessees on a wide range of real estate disputes that includes these areas:

  • leases and takings
  • mortgages, liens, and foreclosures
  • title, ownership, and development
  • beach and waterfront rights

Land Use and Zoning

Our lawyers regularly represent both institutional and individual clients in both federal and state actions, including litigation matters and administrative appeals, that involve the following:

  • permit
  • variances
  • subdivisions
  • covenants
  • restrictions
  • affordable housing
  • wetlands

Mortgage Litigation

We provide litigation services and counseling to lenders in a wide range of disputes, including the following:

  • validity, priority, and foreclosure of mortgages
  • defense of consumer protection and fair debt claims
  • predatory lending
  • class action claims

Real Property Tax Appeals

Our lawyers regularly represent commercial owners in all stages of the appeal process, including negotiation with municipal authorities, appearances before the board of assessment appeals, and appeals to the state court. We  have years of  experience with these kinds of matters:

  • special use
  • Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
  • income-producing properties
  • contingency fee tax audits
  • the impact of environmental conditions on the valuation of real property

Condominium/Common Interest

We represent condominium organizations in almost every matter likely to affect a common interest community, including the following:

  • the assessment and collection of common area fees
  • contract and construction disputes
  • due diligence requirements of the first independent board after turnover
  • problems of governance (including challenges by dissident unit owners and internal boards of trustees disputes)
  • claims against developers and contractors
  • disputes with insurers
  • negotiations with management companies
  • controversies with municipalities and neighboring condominiums

Our representation ranges from negotiation to mediation to arbitration and, when appropriate, to the litigation that may ensue when some element of the condominium process goes wrong and judicial intervention is necessary. No matter the forum , we speak the language of condominium boards, unit owners, lenders, and management.

    • Experience
      • Represented a lender in a $4.5 million foreclosure claim in which the defendant counterclaimed for $18 million in damages sounding in lender liability. The matter was contested over the last three years and settled on the eve of trial. Multiple motions were drafted and argued before the court, including summary judgment.

      • Marshalling over 100 years of complex title records and boundary evidence and testimony of surveying and title experts, obtained judgment for a developer following trial, affirming title to and boundaries of a 120-acre subdivision.

      • Defeated a class certification action against law firms and major mortgage lenders for allegedly wrongful foreclosures that would have involved over 9,000 foreclosures and tens of millions of dollars in exposure. The United States Court of Appeals affirmed the denial of class certification.

      • Obtained expedited and complete dismissal of claims against a developer for easements over commercial property in Boston’s Seaport District, which enabled the development and sale of a hotel on the site.

      • Our group regularly represents both landlords and tenants in commercial lease disputes and related litigation matters. The firm currently represents a landlord in a dispute of lease rights concerning over 300,000 square feet of space.
      • Represented Boulder County, Colorado, in defense of a claim under the federal Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) in federal district court. The principal issue, of national importance, was whether a megachurch can double in size to more than 200,000 square feet in contravention of local planning and regulations. Robinson+Cole won jury verdicts on multiple federal and state constitutional claims and one claim brought under RLUIPA. While the jury found for the church on three RLUIPA claims, the jury awarded no damages. The Tenth Circuit upheld the jury verdict.

      • In the area of real and personal property tax appeals, the firm has been prime counsel for one of the largest wireless service providers in the country and currently represents the provider in appeals involving the valuation of high-tech wireless equipment as well as real property.

      • Successfully defended a $10 million mixed-use (including 134 residential units and 5,000 square feet of retail space) urban revitalization project against a lawsuit by abutters seeking to halt the development.
      • Represented a cellular telephone tower company in a real property partition action. The client had a leasehold interest and right of first refusal on property that was the subject of litigation between family members to force the sale of multiple tracts of land owned by many family members. Preserved client's interests and avoided unnecessary entanglement in the litigation.

      • Litigated numerous zoning appeals in state and federal courts, including representation of leading telecommunication companies in prosecuting and defending zoning appeals in federal and state courts.

      • Represent condominium associations in claims brought against developer, design, and construction professionals and developer-appointed managers for design and construction defects and breach of fiduciary duties.

      • Persuaded the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court to overturn an Appeals Court decision and affirm a condominium developer’s retention of the right to remove land from a condominium. Queler, et al. v. Skowron, et al., 439 Mass. 304 (2002).

      • Represented lenders in the litigation, resolution, and recoupment of mortgage frauds, overfinancing scams, defalcations, and forgeries.

      • Successfully represented waterfront owners, developers, and marinas before state agencies, including contested cases, related to permits and approvals for docks and other structures. 

      • Obtained judgment after trial for a beachfront owner against claims of adverse possession and prescriptive easement.
      • Represented the developer of a subdivision that included a wind turbine as a prominent feature in an action against subdivision purchasers who reneged on promises to reconfigure subdivision open space to allow for development of the wind turbine. Successfully negotiated resolution to dispute.

      • Represent high-end Boston condominiums, which are often mixed-use and two-tier, with complicated  governing documents where balancing the budgetary, operational, and governance requirements of primary versus secondary condominiums and residential versus commercial interests requires knowledgeable and experienced counsel. Representative condominium clients who have called upon the full range of Robinson+Cole's legal services include Millennium Place Ritz-Carlton Boston; Parkside Condominium, Boston; Union Wharf, Boston; and Sierra+Tango, Cambridge.

      • Represented national public utility company in defense of environmental claims based on historic property usage.

         

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    • News
      • November 1, 2017

        Robinson+Cole Receives 37 First-Tier Metropolitan Rankings and 3 National Rankings in Latest U.S. News – Best Law Firms Survey

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      • June 2, 2017

        Robinson+Cole Lawyers Write Articles for APA Publication

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      • November 1, 2016

        Robinson+Cole Receives 34 First-Tier Metropolitan Rankings and 3 National Rankings in Latest U.S. News – Best Law Firms Survey

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        • View article
      • October 25, 2016

        Kendra Berardi Chairs Judicial Forum 2016

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      • October 13, 2016

        Kendra Berardi Elected Vice Chair of ABA Real Estate Litigation Committee

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      • July 14, 2016

        Larry Heffernan Featured in Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly

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      • December 22, 2015

        Danielle Long Elected to Membership in the Abstract Club

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      • May 21, 2015

        Boston Lawyers Speak at REBA Spring Conference

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      • March 30, 2015

        John Peloso Hosts CCIM Emergency Submarkets Strategy Event

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      • August 25, 2014

        Clive Martin quoted in Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly

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      • August 15, 2014

        Boston Lawyers Present at MCLE Real Estate Disputes Program

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      • July 15, 2014

        Boston Lawyer Participates in MCLE Webcast, Speaks to Abstract Club

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      • May 28, 2014

        Kendra Berardi Selected to Provide Commentary for Massachusetts Land Court Reporter

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      • January 24, 2014

        Kendra Berardi Elected to Board of REBA

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      • January 13, 2014

        Boston Lawyers Prepare Students to Deliver Oral Arguments

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      • October 21, 2013

        Super Lawyers® Names 61 Robinson & Cole Attorneys to 2013 List

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      • October 9, 2013

        Boston Lawyers Appointed to ABA Leadership Positions

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      • August 16, 2013

        Robinson & Cole Receives Top Listing in Connecticut Attorney Count in Best Lawyers National Peer Review Survey

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      • June 13, 2013

        Boston Lawyer Presents at BBA Seminar

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      • June 7, 2013

        Boston Lawyers Author Article for ABA Newsletter

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      • May 24, 2013

        Boston Lawyer Authors Article for The Title Insurance Law Newsletter

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      • March 21, 2013

        Robinson & Cole Attorneys Selected for Top Women Attorneys in Massachusetts

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      • March 18, 2013

        Boston Lawyers Participate in MCLE Panel on Real Estate Disputes

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      • March 8, 2013

        Kendra Berardi Receives Pro Bono Initiative Award

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      • October 22, 2012

        ABA Title Insurance Litigation Committee Publishes Article by Robinson & Cole Attorney

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      • August 14, 2012

        Litigation Associate’s Article on Foreclosure Requirements in American Bar Association Newsletter

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      • May 30, 2012

        Real Estate and Title Litigation Attorneys Prevent Class Action Against Client

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      • May 18, 2012

        Litigation Associate’s Article on Court Rulings Published on American Bar Association Website

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      • March 7, 2012

        Real Estate and Title Insurance Chair Addresses What Happens When “MERS Attacks”

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      • February 23, 2012

        Attorneys Discuss Bevilaqua and Ibanez Cases at Seminar

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      • December 15, 2011

        Boston Attorneys Coach Students to “Stand Up for Your Rights”

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      • January 31, 2011

        Danielle Long Examines Massachusetts’ Ruling on Validity of Many Foreclosures

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      • August 4, 2010

        Lawrence P. Heffernan Presents on Lien Priorities at Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education Program

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      • April 14, 2010

        Robinson & Cole Attorney Chairs Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education Program

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    • Publications + Presentations
    • "RLUIPA Case of the Year? Minnesota Municipality Uses RLUIPA’s Safe Harbor Provision to Avoid Liability," published in Planning & Law, co-authored by Evan J. Seeman, Karla L. Chaffee, Dwight H. Merriam and John F. X. Peloso Jr. (Spring 2017)
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      "Meet the Land Court Judicial Forum 2016," presented by Kendra L. Berardi, chaired the program, sponsored by MCLE New England in Boston (10/20/2016)
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      "Real Estate Litigation: Real Estate & Environmental Professional Development Plan Unit 13," presented by Danielle Andrews Long, presented at Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education program, panel chair and presenter (2/25/2015)

      "More challenges to the foreclosure process: the Massachusetts appellate courts giveth and taketh away," presented by Lawrence P. Heffernan, presented to The Abstract Club in Boston, Massachusetts (5/19/2014)

      "Resolving Common and Complex Title Issues," presented by Danielle Andrews Long, presented at Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education program (4/3/2014)

      "The 25 Critical Cases Every Real Estate, Title, Land Use, and Environmental Lawyer Must Know," at Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education seminar on real estate, title mortgage, leasing, and condominium law, presented by Lawrence P. Heffernan (3/17/2014; 1/21/2015; 2/24/2016)

      "Time When Statutes Take Effect," authored by Danielle Andrews Long, published in the MCLE book Crocker's Notes on Common Forms, ch. 24, 10th ed., 2013

      "Landlord Remedies - A Refresher in Landlord Rights after 275 Washington Street Corp., Trustee v. Hudson River Int'l LLC," presented by Lawrence P. Heffernan, seminar sponsored by the Boston Bar Association's Leasing Committee (5/29/2013)

      "Massachusetts High Court Considers Modernizing State Lease Law," co-authored by Danielle Andrews Long, Lawrence P. Heffernan, John T. Ronayne and Kendra L. Berardi, published in the ABA's Real Estate Litigation newsletter (5/20/2013)

      "Massachusetts Rejects 'In for One, In for All' in Title Insurance Claims," published in Title Insurance Litigation Committee Newsletter, authored by Lawrence P. Heffernan (Spring 2013)

      "The Effect of Eaton on Foreclosures, Third-Party Purchasers, REO Purchasers and Re-Foreclosures," at Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education's What Eaton Means for Massachusetts Foreclosure & Title Practice, presented by Lawrence P. Heffernan (7/25/2012)

      "Massachusetts Top Court Redefining Foreclosure Requirements," authored by Kendra L. Berardi, published in the Real Estate Litigation newsletter, an online publication for the American Bar Association's Real Estate Litigation Section (Summer 2012)

      "Foreclosure Issues and Curative Actions," at Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education's Resolving Common & Complex Title Issues, presented by Lawrence P. Heffernan (5/17/2012; 5/8/2015)

      "Class Certification Denied in Massachusetts Foreclosures Action," authored by Danielle Andrews Long, published on the American Bar Association's Real Estate Litigation website (5/15/2012)

      "Tender of Loss and Termination of Title Insurance Policy Obligations," at ABA TIPS Title Insurance Litigation Committee Seminar in Boston, presented by Lawrence P. Heffernan (4/27/2012)

      "Litigating Real Estate Disputes," at Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education, presented by Kendra L. Berardi, presenter on the topic of Litigating in the Land Court (2/9/2012)

      "Litigating Real Estate Disputes," at Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education, presented by Danielle Andrews Long, chair and presenter on topic of Defective Title Documents (2/9/2012)

      "Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Issues First Post Ibanez Decision Regarding Title," authored by Kendra L. Berardi, published in Case Notes, a publication of the American Bar Association’s Real Estate Litigation Section (2012)

      "Title Void When Lender Foreclosed before Recording Assignment of Mortgage," published in The Title Insurance Law Newsletter, authored by Lawrence P. Heffernan (12/2011)

      "A Litigator's View of Liens, Challenges to Liens, and Lien Priorities," at Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education's Understanding Lien Priorities, presented by Lawrence P. Heffernan (7/2010)

      "My Client Has a Title Claim! Is It Actually Covered by a Title Insurance Policy?" at New England Land Title Association Boston Seminar, presented by Lawrence P. Heffernan (4/8/2009)

      "Tales from the Frontlines, a Discussion of Current Claims Issues," at American Bar Association's Title Insurance Litigation Committee Spring Seminar in Seattle, Washington, presented by Lawrence P. Heffernan (3/6/2009)

      "Recent Developments in Title Insurance Law and Claims," at Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education's Real Estate Law Conference, presented by Lawrence P. Heffernan (3/19/2008)

      "Mortgage Fraud: Trends, Prevention, and Recovery," at New England Land Title Association Convention, presented by Lawrence P. Heffernan (6/21 to 6/24/2007)

      "Closing Protection Letters: The Hidden Exposure," at American Bar Association's TIPS Title Insurance Litigation Committee Seminar in Minneapolis, presented by Lawrence P. Heffernan (9/14 to 9/16/2006)

      "Court Tackles Multiple Real Property Issues: Smorgasbord of Decisions Includes Eminent Domain, Sovereign Immunity," published in Connecticut Law Tribune, authored by Edward V. O'Hanlan (9/2006)

      "The Shifting Sands of Massachusetts Beach Rights," at Real Estate Bar Association Spring Seminar, co-presented by Lawrence P. Heffernan and Thomas O. Moriarty and Edward S. Englander (5/8/2006)

      "Easements by Prescription, Public and Private," presented by Lawrence P. Heffernan, Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education's Litigating Real Estate Disputes (8/2005)

      "Surveying for Attorneys," at Real Estate Bar Association 2004 Spring Seminar, co-presented by Lawrence P. Heffernan and A. Richard Vannozzi, P.L.S., and Ward P. Graham, Esq. (5/10/2004)

      "Notice of Claims and Tender of Defense of Title Insurance Claims," at Spring 2000 Title Insurance Claims and Litigation Seminar, presented by Lawrence P. Heffernan (Spring 2000)

      "Equitable Subrogation Unsettled," published in Title News, authored by Lawrence P. Heffernan (January/February 1999)

      "Title Insurance and the Duty to Search," published in Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly, authored by Lawrence P. Heffernan (9/1997)

Our Team

Chair

Members