Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, Middlesex
Drummer Boy Homes Association, Inc.
Carolyn P. Britton & another. 
January 7, 2016.
actions commenced in the Concord Division of the District
Court Department on August 8, 2007; February 6, 2008; and
October 6, 2008.
consolidation, the case was heard by Peter J.
Kilmartin, J., on a motion for summary judgment, and a
motion to alter and amend the judgment was also heard by him.
review by the Appeals Court, the Supreme Judicial Court
granted leave to obtain further appellate review.
O. Moriarty ( Jennifer L. Barnett with him) for the
A.F. Johnson, of the District of Columbia ( Rhiannon A.
Campbell with him), for Federal Housing Finance Agency &
others, amici curiae.
A. Britton, pro se.
following submitted briefs for amici curiae.
Lipkind & Elizabeth Brady Murillo for Avidia Bank &
A. Goodman, Ellen A. Shapiro, Charles A. Perkins, Jr., Scott
J. Eriksen, & David R. Chenelle for Community
D. Martin & Diane R. Rubin for Real Estate Bar
Association for Massachusetts, Inc.
C. Reilly & Jennifer E. Greaney for Bank of America, N.A.
Gants, C.J., Spina, Cordy, Botsford, Duffly, Lenk, &
N.E.3d 402] Spina, J.
issue in this case is whether G. L. c. 183A, § 6,
permits an organization of unit owners to establish multiple
contemporaneous priority liens on a condominium unit by
filing successive legal actions to collect unpaid monthly
common expense assessments (common expenses). We conclude
that the statute allows for such liens. Accordingly, we
reverse the judgment of the Appellate Division of the
District Court, which reached a contrary
the last ten years, the parties in this case have been
involved in protracted and contentious litigation concerning
parking rights at a condominium complex. Our recitation of
the factual background and procedural history encompasses
only those matters that relate to the specific issues now
before this court. Drummer Boy Condominium II, which consists
of twelve individual units, is one of nine condominiums
comprising Drummer Boy Green in Lexington. In the aggregate,
the nine condominiums have approximately 150 units. The
defendant, Carolyn P. Britton, purchased a unit in Drummer
Boy Condominium II in
May, 2001. In April, 2008, she transferred title to the unit
by quitclaim deed to herself and her husband, defendant Randy
A. Britton, as tenants by the entirety.
2004, the Brittons began to withhold payment of their monthly
common expenses because of a dispute concerning parking rules
and related fines. On August 8, 2007, the Drummer Boy Homes
Association, Inc. (association), commenced an action in
the District Court against the Brittons. It sought to recover
[47 N.E.3d 403] unpaid common expenses and to enforce a
priority lien pursuant to G. L. c. 183A, § 6 (
c ), and G. L. c. 254, § § 5, 5A, that
would be superior to the first mortgage to the extent of the
common expenses due during the six months immediately
preceding the commencement of the action. The Brittons
continued to withhold payment of their monthly common
expenses. On February 6, 2008, the association commenced a
second action to recover the unpaid common expenses that had
accrued since the filing of its first action, and to enforce
a second six-month priority lien. When the Brittons still did
not pay their monthly common expenses, the association
commenced a third action on October 6, 2008, to recover the
unpaid common expenses that had accrued since the filing of
its second action, and to enforce a third six-month priority
lien. The association subsequently filed a motion to
consolidate the three actions, which was allowed.
March 9, 2009, the association filed a motion for summary
judgment. Following a hearing, a judge allowed the motion and
entered judgment in favor of the association in the amount of
$22,742.08. The judge first determined that the
association was the proper entity to seek recovery of unpaid
common expenses pursuant to G. L. c. 183A, § 6. He then
concluded that there were no disputed issues of material fact
regarding the association's ability to recover unpaid
common expenses and related fines, as well as reasonable
attorney's fees and costs associated with the collection
of such expenses. The judge pointed out that, notwithstanding
the Brittons' arguments about the purported illegality of
the parking policies at Drummer Boy Green, they never
initiated an action to resolve their parking dispute, and
they could not remedy the matter simply by ignoring the fines
and refusing to pay their common expenses. The judge
also concluded, however, that the filing of successive
actions was not consistent with G. L. c. 183A, § 6 (
c ), and that the association's lien priority
over the first mortgagee for common [47 N.E.3d 404] expenses,
plus reasonable attorney's fees and costs, was limited to
the one six-month period preceding the commencement of the
first of the consolidated actions. That being the case, the
judge established a priority lien under § 6 ( c
) in the amount of $15,054.86. The judge denied the
association's subsequent motion to alter or amend the
judgment to reflect three successive six-month periods of
parties appealed to the Appellate Division of the District
Court. By decision dated July 20, 2011, a panel of the
Division affirmed the judgment in all respects. After
reviewing the parties' extensive briefing, the panel
determined that only two issues had been properly raised:
standing and statutory interpretation. First, the panel
considered the Brittons' argument that the plaintiff was
not a legal entity entitled to sue and, therefore, the
judgment was void. The association conceded that it should
have brought suit in the name of " Drummer Boy Homes
Association, Inc.," rather than " Board of
Directors of the Drummer Boy Homes Association, Inc."
The panel corrected the misnomer, concluding that the