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Cape Cod Shellfish & Seafood Co., Inc. v. City of Boston

Appeals Court of Massachusetts, Suffolk

November 12, 2014

Cape Cod Shellfish & Seafood Company, Inc., & others [1]
v.
City of Boston & another. [2]

Argued October 9, 2013.

Civil action commenced in the Superior Court Department on November 9, 2004.

After review by this court, 74 Mass.App.Ct. 1127 (2009), the case was heard by Elizabeth M. Fahey, J., on a motion for summary judgment.

Marshall F. Newman for the plaintiffs.

Adam Cederbaum, Assistant Corporation Counsel, for city of Boston.

Present: Cypher, Katzmann, & Maldonado, JJ.

OPINION

[19 N.E.3d 857] Maldonado, J.

The plaintiffs appeal from a Superior Court judgment in favor of the city of Boston (city) in its effort to tax the

Page 652

plaintiffs as lessees of property owned by the Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport), on Boston's Fish Pier. Although, pursuant to St. 1956, c. 465, § 17 (§ 17), as appearing in St. 1978, c. 332, § 2, Massport and its lessees are not required to pay real estate taxes on Massport properties, an exception to the exemption applies to business lessees of property in the area known as the Commonwealth Flats. In an earlier decision pursuant to our rule 1:28, we determined that the plaintiffs are liable for taxes for their respective lease terms under that exception.[3] At issue now is [19 N.E.3d 858] whether the plaintiffs, all of whom remained on the property after the end of their lease terms, continue to be liable as lessees for the taxes assessed during the holdover period.

Background.

We recount the undisputed facts from the motion judge's May 20, 2011, memorandum of decision and order on the city's motion for summary judgment, supplemented also by the record on appeal as noted. The plaintiffs, Cape Cod Shellfish & Seafood Company, Inc.; John Mantia & Sons Co., Inc.; Atlantic Coast Seafood, Inc.; New England Marketers, Inc.; and Great Eastern Seafood, Inc., operated wholesale fish and seafood businesses on the Boston Fish Pier, which is owned by Massport and situated in the Commonwealth Flats area of the South Boston section of Boston. The plaintiffs originally occupied the property pursuant to written leases with Massport. The relevant leases of the plaintiffs covered the period of January 1, 1998, to December 31, 2004, and were virtually identical. All required the plaintiffs to pay any taxes and fees assessed against the tenant or landlord in relation to the leased premises. The city sporadically billed the plaintiffs for the real estate taxes due on the leased premises for their respective periods of occupancy; except for a single payment

Page 653

by New England Marketers, Inc., the taxes ...


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