Town Immune from Suit on Claims of Misrepresentation and Fraud: Trustees of the John T. Rose Family Trust v. Town of Pepperell

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John & Mary Ellen Rose, Trustees of the John T. Rose Family Trust v. Town of Pepperell, Middlesex Sup. Ct. 

PDP successfully argued a Motion for Summary Judgment in a case involving homeowners who had an underlying water line on their property burst. In the late 1990’s the Town of Pepperell installed the water line at issue on the plaintiffs’ horse farm.  In 2014, some sixteen to seventeen year after the water line was installed, plaintiffs claimed that the water line “burst,” causing tens of thousands of gallons of water to spill into the earth.  The plaintiffs were billed by the Town for the water that spilled as a result of the break.  Plaintiffs faulted the Town for improperly “installing and maintaining” the water line and applied for an abatement of their water bill.  The abatement request was ultimately denied by the Town, and the plaintiffs filed suit.

Counsel for the plaintiffs brought suit against the Town seeking recovery under theories of: misrepresentation and fraud; unjust enrichment; negligence and a violation of M.G.L. Ch. 165 § 11B. At the conclusion of discovery, the Town moved filed a Motion for Summary Judgment on all counts of plaintiffs’ Complaint.  In that motion, PDP argued that the Town was immune from suit on claims of misrepresentation and fraud pursuant under the Mass. Tort Claims Act, M.G.L. c. 258, § 10(c).   We also argued that that the plaintiffs could not maintain a cause of action for unjust enrichment because they were obligated to pay their water bill despite the circumstances of the water usage.  Furthermore, we argued that plaintiffs failed to comply with the presentment requirement of Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 258, § 4.  Therefore, their negligence claim failed as a matter of law.   In addition, we argued that Plaintiffs’ negligence claim was barred by M.G.L. c. 260, § 2B, the Massachusetts Statute of Repose.  Finally, PDP argued that plaintiffs’ claim of a violation of M.G.L. Ch. 165 § 11B failed as a matter of law as the Town is not a “water company” as defined by the statute.

The Court issued a written decision after oral arguments on the Motion for Summary Judgment in which it agreed with PDP’s argument and granted summary judgment on all counts of plaintiffs’ Complaint.

QUESTIONS?

Jason W. Crotty

jcrotty@piercedavis.com

 

617.350.0950