Following a recent bench trial conducted on Zoom, David H. Rich obtained a defense verdict denying liability under Chapter 93A in a dispute concerning an option to purchase commercial real estate.
An Essex County Superior Court judge found – in what is believed to be the first Zoom bench trial in Superior Court – that the plaintiff failed to prove that the firm’s client violated Chapter 93A by not making a “deferred payment” to the plaintiff under the terms of an assignment of the option to purchase the property in Waltham, Mass.
The plaintiff formerly operated a restaurant on the site, which is adjacent to commercial property eventually developed by the firm’s client into a retail shopping center.
The firm’s client purchased the site where the restaurant was located, and in so doing extinguished the remaining lease obligations of the plaintiff to the former property owner.
The “deferred payment” was tied to a clause in the assignment agreement related to the development of the shopping center.
Prior to the firm’s involvement in the case, a different Superior Court judge granted the plaintiff summary judgment on its breach of contract claim.
However, despite this prior ruling, the judge presiding over the bench trial on the 93A claim determined that the parties in good faith disputed the language of the assignment agreement related to the deferred payment, and that the firm’s client did not deliberately avoid its contractual obligations, or act deceptively or in an extortionate manner.