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McGregor & Legere Obtains $1.35 Million for Client for City’s Illegal Blockage of House Construction Featured

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The award received from the City of Quincy, MA, and Mr. Thyng's property. The award received from the City of Quincy, MA, and Mr. Thyng's property.

In 2015 we won on behalf of client Scotty Thyng a million-dollar verdict in Norfolk Superior Court (Civil Action No. 2010-01449) against officials of the City of Quincy.

The officials were found to have violated our client’s constitutional right to equal protection on account of their obstruction and interference with Mr. Thyng’s attempts to build a house on a vacant lot in the middle of the block in an already built-out neighborhood. Suit had been filed in 2010 by another firm.

We handled development of the case, motions and discovery, trial preparation, and the two-week jury trial. The judgment for our client was over $1 million for compensatory and punitive damages, attorneys’ fees and costs, and interest. After appeals since 2015, a remand back to the lower court, and stiff negotiations over a year, our client has settled for and received from the City of Quincy a check for $1.35 million. This closes the last chapter in the last book of this saga.

Mr. Thyng had been trying to build a house on his land for 10 years before suit was commenced. After another 11 years of litigation before the Superior Court, Appeals Court, and Supreme Judicial Court, our client now has a judgment for money that has been paid with further assurances of build-ability. Mr. Thyng can now build the house or sell the property with the right to develop.

The crux of the case at trial was whether Quincy officials intentionally treated Mr. Thyng differently than owners of other similarly situated properties, whether there was a rational basis for the difference in treatment, and whether the difference in treatment was due to malicious or bad faith intent to injure him. The jury heard evidence that the City imposed conditions on Mr. Thyng that they did not impose on similarly situated applicants, denied Mr. Thyng’s application for lack of information without specifying what was missing, disapproved the project even after the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection issued a permit approving the project, and failed to comply with an order of the Superior Court to conduct a new hearing.

The jury heard evidence that that City officials were “reaching for negative reasons” to deny Mr. Thyng’s application. The jury decided that the Quincy officials had violated Mr. Thyng’s constitutional right to equal protection. After trial, they awarded Mr. Thyng $433,000.00.

The defendants appealed that judgment to the Massachusetts Appeals Court, which in March 2020 affirmed the verdict for the violation of our client’s equal protection rights. It vacated the judgment against one defendant on substantive due process, and remanded the case to the Superior Court for redetermination of damages in light of that change (97 Mass. App. Ct. 1104).

The defendants then petitioned the Supreme Judicial Court for Further Appellate Review (FAR-27632), arguing that the original Complaints and Summonses at the outset of the case in 2010 had not been served within the required time and that an order of the Superior Court back then enlarging the time for service had been erroneous. We served a strong opposition and the Supreme Judicial Court in October 2020 denied the FAR petition.

When the remand began in Superior Court, with debate on whether additional facts should be heard, we entered into serious negotiations with the defendants. In June 2021 the parties reached a settlement agreement. Pursuant to it an Agreement for Judgment was entered providing that the municipality would pay our client $1.35 million. We also insisted on language in the Agreement that City officials would not obstruct, hinder, or delay our client’s construction of the house on his vacant lot (or by his successors and assigns).

The municipality made the payment of $1.35 million to our client on June 17, 2021.

Our previous posts relating to this case may be viewed here:

2020 — Firm's Civil Rights Victory and Jury Verdict Upheld, Now Over $1.5
2018 — McGregor & Legere Client Landowner Wins Million Dollar Land Use Civil Rights Abuse Case

Read 192 times Last modified on Tuesday, 03 August 2021 14:19
Michael J. O'Neill, Esq.

MICHAEL J. O’NEILL, ESQ., is a Senior Associate of McGregor & Legere, P.C. He has more than thirty-five years of experience in a wide range of litigation in all courts and in real estate and commercial law, concentrating in environmental and land use law and litigation since 1992 and real estate and commercial law and litigation from 1983 to 1992.

Mr. O’Neill represents clients in all types and phases of environmental and land use law and litigation, including prosecution and defense of claims for or involving: clean-up, cost recovery, and property damage under the Massachusetts Superfund Law, G.L. c. 21E; deceit, misrepresentation, and unfair and deceptive acts under Massachusetts G.L. c. 93A arising out of the sale of real estate; ownership and use of real estate; nuisance, negligence, and trespass; citizen suits under the Clean Water Act; appeals to court from decisions of local boards and commissions on special permits, subdivisions, zoning enforcement, and permits under the Wetland Protection Act; Article 97 of the Massachusetts Constitution; condominiums; contracts; and injunctive relief. He regularly represents clients before local boards regarding land use permits and appeals to administrative agencies and court from decisions of local boards. He does opinions, lawsuits, and problem-solving concerning real estate titles, transactions involving contaminated land, easements, and leases.

Mr. O’Neill has extensive experience in the preparation, trial, and appeal of cases in all courts. He has successfully represented clients in all Massachusetts courts, including the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, Appeals Court and all Divisions of the Trial Court. He has tried and argued cases before the United States Courts of Appeal for the First and Fourth Circuits, the United States District Courts for Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and West Virginia; the United States Bankruptcy Courts for Massachusetts, New York, and Pennsylvania; the Vermont Supreme Court, the Pennsylvania Superior Court (an Appellate Court), and the Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas. He is also experienced in arbitration and mediation.

Mr. O’Neill has taught workshops in environmental, land use, and real property law for the Citizen Planner Training Collaborative, the Massachusetts Association of Conservation Commissions, Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education, Inc., and National Business Institute, Inc.

Mr. O’Neill has received the Founders Award presented by Alternatives for Community and Environment, Inc. (ACE) and the Community Merit Award presented by Concerned Citizens of Freetown, Inc. for pro-bono work. Mr. O’Neill is rated “BV-Distinguished,” a “Very High” Rating, by Martindale-Hubbell, a legal directory.

Mr. O’Neill is a graduate of the College of the Holy Cross and a cum laude graduate of Suffolk University Law School, where he won the American Jurisprudence Award in Evidence.

Mr. O’Neill’s clients find him responsive, knowledgeable, sympathetic, and a strong advocate. His results before juries and justices have earned him the loyalty of many long term clients.

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