Michael J ONeill
Michael J. O'Neill, Esq.

Mr. O’Neill has forty-three years of legal experience. He has tried cases covering a broad range of civil litigation, especially cases involving real estate, land use, and environmental law. He has broad knowledge of the substantive law pertaining to those areas and legal procedures. He is also experienced and knowledgeable in business and contract law.

APPEALS

Thyng v. Duca, et al., Appeals Court Case No. 18-P-1479; Appeals Court affirmed Judgment after jury trial for violation of client’s civil rights in connection with attempts to build single-family home. Damages and attorney’s fees are now more than $1.5 million. Final disposition is pending, as Judgment against one defendant on one claim was vacated.

Brooks Pond Conservation Association, Inc. v. Starr, 79 Mass. App. Ct. 1130 (2011); Appeals Court affirmed Superior Court Judgment establishing our client as owner of 180-acre pond and its right to make and enforce regulations as to its use against non-compliant boat owner who challenged ownership status. Case turned on classic problem of unrecorded deed in chain of title.

Ten Taxpayer Group v. Health Facilities Appeals Board; Boston Children’s Hospital, Appeals Court Case No. 2018-P-0530; Represented Friends of Prouty Garden in broad-based campaign in opposition to expansion by Boston Children’s Hospital, including administrative proceedings before the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, and in litigation, including suits in Superior Court for injunctive relief and to appeal the Determination of Need issued by the Department of Health, and appeal to the Appeals Court of the decision of the Superior Court, arguing that the requirements for a Determination of Need were not met.

Paolino et al. JF Realty, LLC., et al.,710 F. 3d. 31 (1st Cir., 2013); In a case of first impression, won for our clients Paolino and Issa in Cumberland, Rhode Island a decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, reversing a District Court dismissal and establishing the requirements for pre-suit notice under the Clean Water Act. The Court ruled that the requisite notice of citizen suits need not specify the section of the Act allegedly violated.

Colvin et al. v. Town of Lynnfield et al., 68 Mass. App. Ct. 1108 (2004); Appeals Court affirmed Judgment after jury verdict for more than $600,000.00 for more than seven families against the Town of Lynnfield for nuisance and trespass that destroyed Mill Pond by sludge from a dredging project gone awry.

Mahajan v. Department of Environmental Protection et al., 464 Mass. 604 (2013); Represented the “North End Ten” in their citizens’ challenge of MassDEP’s issuance of a Chapter 91 Tidelands and Waterways license allowing the Boston Redevelopment Authority to lease part of Boston’s historic Long Wharf for use as a private restaurant.

Atlas Tack Corporation v. Donabed, et al., 37 Mass. App. Ct. 66 (1994); Appeals Court reversed Superior Court’s judgment dismissing client’s claim. The Court ruled that lawyers who share space with other lawyers can be held liable for legal malpractice of other lawyers under partnership by estoppel where stationery held them out as partners.

M. Leonard Lewis, Petitioner; In one of the exceedingly rare successful petitions to the Supreme Judicial Court under its general power of superintendence of the courts under G.L. c. 211, sec. 3, Mr. O’Neill won a Judgment from a Single Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court vacating a default judgment against client, where plaintiff had scheduled a sheriff’s sale of client’s property within two days.

Locke v. Spaulding, 24 Mass. App. Ct. 977 (1987); Appeals Court confirmed clients’ right to recover money paid for parking spaces by eight condominium unit owners.

Sarjeant v. Pienkos, Appeals Court; Appeals Court affirmed Land Court Judgment that Client owned real property, defeating adverse possession and boundary claims by neighbors.

Amari v. Rent Control Board of Cambridge, 47 Mass. App. Ct. 598 (1986); Defended owner of former school building in which artists took up residence against claim that premises were subject to rent control.

TRIALS AND LITIGATION

Richard J. Bartley Trustee of Richard J. Bartley Revocable Trust et al. v. Boston Gas Company dba National Grid; Essex Superior Court, Civil Action No. 12-422B; Filed complaint to recover costs for remediation of contamination of client’s property caused by operation of Manufactured Gas Plant in early 20th century. We defeated Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss. After extensive discovery and mediation, we obtained settlement of $675,000.00 paid to our client and a clean-up agreement by Defendant.

Thyng et al. v. Thomas Kelly, Norfolk Superior Court; Tried a two-week jury trial for violation of civil rights against municipal officials for blocking and delaying our client’s attempts to build a house for more than ten years. The jury rejected statute of limitations defense and other defenses. Jury returned a verdict for our client. Damages and attorneys’ fees are now more than $1.5 million.

Thyng v. Quincy Conservation Commission, Norfolk Superior Court; In a related, underlying matter, won a Judgment from Superior Court approving client’s project because local Conservation Commission did not comply with a Superior Court Judgment to hold a remand hearing. In addition, Superior Court stated in its order that Conservation Commission offered no reason for not holding the hearing other than animosity toward Plaintiff, which was important evidence in the subsequent jury trial.

Evans, Trustee v. Jackson, Trustee, Land Court, 13 Misc. 478683 (2016); Tried case in Land Court and won Judgment that our clients are the owners of the entirety of their oceanfront property on Cape Cod, defeating claim by abutter that a substantial portion of our clients’ land was actually filled tideland which she owned, down to the mean low water mark, pursuant to the Colonial Ordinances. We defeated Plaintiff’s theory by introducing evidence and expert opinion that the disputed tidelands had been severed from opponent’s land by intermediate conveyances, cutting off Plaintiff’s argument. The case involved application of rules of ownership of oceanfront property going back to the Colonial Ordinances from the 1600s.

Brooks Pond Conservation Association, Inc. v. Starr, et al. Worcester Superior Court; Tried case in Superior Court, resulting in Judgment establishing our client, Brooks Pond Association, Inc., as owner of a 180-acre pond in four towns near Worcester, with the right to make and enforce regulations for use of pond. Both sides had title experts, who presented conflicting interpretations of the instruments in the chain of title.

Hobart v. Notus Clean Energy, LLC et al., Barnstable Superior Court, Civil No. 2013-057; Obtained outright dismissal of suit in Superior Court of a claim against our client, an operator of a wind turbine in Falmouth, MA, by nearby homeowners that wind turbine was a nuisance causing harmful health effects. We won dismissal of the suit after extensive discovery on Plaintiffs’ claims and Plaintiff’s failure to provide discovery.

Colvin et al. v. Town of Lynnfield, et al.; Essex Superior Court 2000-1322B; Represented seven owners of mill pond severely damaged and contaminated by Town’s failed, unpermitted dredging project upstream. Jury verdict awarded monetary damages to owners for nuisance, negligence, and trespass. Parallel contempt action resulted in Superior Court finding Town disobeyed earlier injunction in Consent Judgment to remedy damage. Court ordered Town to pay pond owners their attorneys’ fees and costs, establish an escrow account, and complete clean-up and multi-year restoration of mill pond. Awards amounted to more than $600,000 with interest.

Larson et al. v. Border et al, Essex Superior Court; Tried an appeal on behalf of an abutter to Superior Court of approval of G.L. c. 40B project by Topsfield Zoning Board of Appeals. The Court agreed with our arguments and entered a Judgment reversing the approval. This is one of the rare cases reversing the grant of a comprehensive permit.  

O’Reilly et al. v. Syswerda et al. Middlesex Superior Court; Represented clients in suit by abutters alleging that oil had leaked from clients’ property onto their property from an underground storage tank removed by prior owner of clients’ property. We sought and obtained authorization from clients’ insurer to defend clients at insurer’s expense. We won case on summary judgment, after establishing with documentation from Department of Environmental Protection that the work by prior owner’s Licensed Site Professional resulted in a Permanent Solution in accordance with applicable regulations.

O’Reilly v. Winchester Board of Appeal and Syswerda et al., Civil Action No. 99-5170F; Represented clients in appeal to Zoning Board of Appeals of building permit to construct new house on abutting property on account of lack of frontage. The Zoning Board of Appeals vacated the building permit, but the owners continued construction of new house. We sought and obtained a Preliminary Injunction from Superior Court enjoining construction.

Becker v. Town of Westwood et al., Norfolk Superior Court; Tried appeal on behalf of abutters to Special Permit issued by the Westwood Planning Board for a Senior Development on an environmentally and historically sensitive site in the Town of Westwood. Following completion of the trial, the land was acquired by a new owner and has been permanently preserved as open space and hiking trails, pursuant to a Conservation Restriction.

Northwood Properties, LLC v. Tyler et al., Middlesex Superior Court; Filed and won a Special Motion to Dismiss in Superior Court under the Anti-SLAPP Suit Statute, G.L. c. 231, sec. 59H, against a developer who sued our clients based on their having appealed a special permit for development of a senior housing project, resulting in an award of attorneys’ fees and a favorable settlement for our clients.

Richard Cuda et al v. Town of Orleans, Barnstable Superior Court; Filed suit in Superior Court, challenging a proposed taking by eminent domain of a private way owned by our clients by the Town of Orleans, leading to rejection by the Orleans Town Meeting of the proposed taking.

In re Richard Cuda, Final Decision; Filed and obtained a Superseding Determination of Applicability establishing that Town’s practice of allowing All-Terrain Vehicles on beach required an Order of Conditions, and then appealed Order of Conditions issued by the Town and approved by the Department of Environmental Protection. After an Adjudicatory Hearing, the Hearing Officer entered a Final Decision establishing restrictions to such use very favorable to our clients.

Atlas Tack Corporation v. Liberty Mutual Insurance Company, Suffolk Superior Court; Defeated five comprehensive, simultaneous motions for summary judgments on comprehensive general liability insurance policies for claims for indemnification and defense on account of Superfund site.

Wallace, Trustee v. Planning Board of Hanover, Land Court, Misc. No. 122529; Tried appeal in Land Court from denial by Planning Board of Special Permit for construction of strip mall on State Highway. We presented expert testimony on traffic, the main issue. The Court issued a Judgment vacating the denial and allowing the project.

Britt v. Planning Board of Cohasset, Norfolk Superior Court; Tried case in Superior Court resulting in Judgment ordering Cohasset Planning Board to consider and act upon modified definitive subdivision plan, modified to cure grounds for disapproval of original definitive subdivision plan. As a result of the Judgment, the Town purchased the property for $2 million.

Britt v. Cataumet Realty Trust, Barnstable Superior Court; Tried case to a Master, and defeated claims that the deed description of client’s property did not close. The case involved interpretation of deeds.

Praendex, Inc., vs Salesman, Norfolk Superior Court; Obtained Preliminary Injunction against client’s former salesman, restraining him from use of client’s personality assessment test.

Caruso v. Giuffrida, Essex Superior Court; Tried case to a jury representing client who, as a pedestrian, was injured by a motor vehicle. The jury returned a verdict for Plaintiff of $40,000.00, with interest.

NEGOTIATIONS AND SETTLEMENTS

Town of Marblehead v. Martin, Trustee; Represented owners of a condominium in Marblehead, MA with respect to claims by and against Town of Marblehead arising out of an historic municipal solid waste landfill, now capped and out-of-use. After considerable research, including Public Records Requests, that revealed evidence of historic practices, we negotiated a favorable settlement with the Town, requiring the Town to pay our clients a substantial monetary settlement, remediate the contamination, and release our clients from all liability.

Roy et al. v. Planning Board et al; Middlesex Superior Court; Filed an appeal to Superior Court on behalf of a group of Framingham residents of a Special Permit approving a 130-unit Active Adult development. A Settlement Agreement was negotiated with Developer in which Developer agreed to relocate proposed houses away from clients’ homes and executed a Restrictive Covenant, recorded at the Registry of Deeds, restricting alteration of certain areas.

Walsh v. NStar, Inc., Suffolk Superior Court; Obtained settlement of $125,000.00 from NStar, Inc. on account of explosion at transformer adjacent to clients’ home, spraying transformer fluid on clients’ property,

Fulp v. Contractor, Norfolk Superior Court; We obtained a settlement of $75,000.00 for our client, who was injured while working on construction of a house.

Caron v. Kimball Trucking, Inc., Worcester Superior Court; We obtained a settlement of $300,000.00 for our client, who was injured in a motor vehicle accident with a dump truck.

ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEEDINGS

Notus Clean Energy LLC, Falmouth Zoning Board of Appeals; Defended our client, the operator of a wind turbine, before the Falmouth Zoning Board of Appeals against a petition by a neighbor to shut down client’s wind turbine as a nuisance and in violation of Special Permit. The Board denied the petition.

Frederic Schelong, Framingham Zoning Board of Appeals; Represented a Framingham homeowner who appealed the issuance of a building permit to his next-door neighbor for construction of an 80-foot ham radio tower to the Framingham Zoning Board of Appeals. The Owner of the adjacent property argued, through counsel, that federal law preempted local law and prevented the Board from vacating the building permit. We presented Board with evidence and legal authority that proposed tower was in violation of the zoning by-law, that the zoning by-law was in conformance with state law, G. L. c. 40A, sec. 3, the “Dover Amendment,’’ and that federal preemption was limited. The Board voted unanimously to vacate the building permit.

Concerned Citizens of Freetown, Inc., Freetown Planning Board, Freetown Conservation Commission, Freetown Board of Assessors; Represented Concerned Citizens of Freetown, a non-profit corporation, and residents of East Freetown, MA in numerous matters over several years. Opposed industrial buildings before Freetown Conservation Commission and Freetown Planning Board. Persuaded Planning Board to prohibit proposed dead-end water main for industrial subdivision in area with history of water pressure problems. Obtained real estate tax abatements for numerous residents.

ENFORCEMENT AND DEFENSE

Nickolas et al. v. City of Marlborough et al., Middlesex Superior Court, Civil No. 2013-05608; Successfully defended the City of Marlborough against claims that it had not complied with Article 97 of the Massachusetts Constitution in building a senior center and making improvements to Ward Park, by winning on a Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings after the Superior Court ruled that the Plaintiffs’ claims failed as a matter of law.

Sarjeant v. Pienkos, Land Court Reg. No. 41863. Tried case in Land Court, resulting in Judgment that client owned property, defeating claims of adverse possession and boundary location by two different abutters.

Ronald Tourigny v. Dental Associates of Leominster, Worcester Superior Court; Tried declaratory judgment action on behalf of a dentist and defended against counterclaim for injunctive relief in Worcester Superior Court, resulting in Judgment declaring that client was not prohibited from practicing in an adjacent city by a restrictive covenant in his employment contract.

Town of Charlton v. Estate of Jarosz, Worcester Superior Court; Represented Town in its Superior Court claims for breach of contract, misrepresentation, and costs and damages under G.L. c. 21E, over estate’s sale of contaminated property to town; Negotiated to a favorable out-of-court resolution.

Ryan et al. v. Martin, Trustee, et al., Essex Superior Court, Civil Action No. 2010-00142B; Represented the owner of condominium in a Superior Court suit by purchasers of two condominium units alleging misrepresentation. After depositions of the Plaintiffs and other discovery, we negotiated a favorable settlement, dismissing all claims.

Thomsen v. Weston Planning Board, Middlesex Superior Court, Civil Action No.1681CV02249; Represented residents of Weston, Massachusetts who successfully resisted Planning Board directives that they remove one entrance of their circular driveway from their large house. After appeal to Superior Court challenging the legality of the directives, and after opposing Town’s Motion for Summary Judgment, and while Motion for Summary Judgment was under advisement, Planning Board dropped demand that clients remove one entrance, resolving case.

Antone and Kathleen Roderick, T. Roderick Corp.; Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection; Defended client against enforcement action on account of clearing of Riverfront Area in alleged violation of Wetland Protection Act. We showed that work was exempt from the Wetland Protection Act as agricultural work, and DEP dropped enforcement action.

Dilloway Family Dentists, Weston, MA; Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection; Negotiated a Consent Decree with DEP on behalf of our dentist client to come into compliance with new regulations regarding handling of amalgam.

AWARD

Mr, O’Neill has received the Founders Award presented by Alternatives for Community and Environment, Inc. (ACE) for pro-bono work.