danforth green development

It belongs to Boardroom
It belongs to Courtroom

Issue: Our client, Danforth Green, LLC, had worked for months with a Massachusetts town to satisfy its concerns and obtain zoning variances for a new 353-unit apartment and condominium development.  In late April 2013, less than a month after Danforth got its variances, a self-proclaimed local activist appealed the variances to the Massachusetts Land Court.   Danforth asked us to take the case.  But Danforth didn't simply want a win.  The activist’s appeal was preventing Danforth from getting a building permit.  The Land Court had assigned the case to its “Fast Track,” but the projected time for resolving cases on that track is sixteen months. Danforth didn’t have sixteen months.  It needed a win at record speed. 

Solutions: Ferriter Scobbo shaped Danforth’s courtroom strategy around its boardroom objective. Beginning with a series of motions filed within days of appeal, we made the Land Court very aware that our goal was speed.  We completed all discovery and moved for an order dismissing the activist’s case in June 2013 – less than two months after the appeal began.  We avoided any step that could have given the activist grounds for taking more time on her case. And we urged the Land Court to hear Danforth’s arguments for dismissal at the earliest opportunity.

Our strategy worked.  In late August 2013, the Land Court held that the activist had no right to appeal Danforth’s variances. We accomplished in four months what often takes parties sixteen months or more. The expedited pace continued on appeal.  From the outset of our work we anticipated that the activist would appeal. As a result of our preparations, the Appeals Court was able to take control of the case in October 2013, several months faster than usual.  We then filed several short, strategic motions that alerted the Court that the activist’s case was frivolous.  We also informed the Court that time was an enemy of Danforth’s development and its local benefits.  Through our efforts in both the Land Court and the Appeals Court, the activist’s appeal was ready for decision by the first week of January 2014 – an almost unheard-of pace. 

One obstacle remained.  From where the appeal stood in January 2014, the Appeals Court could have taken between six to twelve months to decide the case.  Danforth didn’t have that luxury. Here again our courtroom strategy yielded boardroom results.  Our motions had alerted the Appeals Court that the activist’s case could be easily decided, without the need for live (but often difficult-to-schedule) arguments from the parties’ lawyers.  The Appeals Court agreed.  In early April 2014 -- less than one year after Danforth first engaged Ferriter Scobbo – the Appeals Court held that the activist had no case.  The decision allowed Danforth Green to obtain its building permits and permanent financing by summer 2014.