Heard: February 2, 2017.
actions commenced in the Northeast Division of the
Housing Court Department on June 24 and July 1, 2014.
consolidation, a motion to dismiss was heard by Timothy
F. Sullivan, J., and entry of separate and final
judgment was ordered by him.
Stephen A. Wasserman for the plaintiffs.
E. Kelleher, III, for the defendants.
Present: Green, Meade, & Agnes, JJ.
plaintiffs, cooperative housing associations whose members
(hereinafter homeowners) own mobile homes located in
Mac's Trailer Park (Mac's Park) in Peabody, initiated
this action claiming that the defendants (hereinafter
developers) committed unfair or deceptive acts or practices
in violation of G. L. c. 93A, § 2, when they appeared
unannounced and declared that they were purchasing Mac's
Park and that the homeowners would have to move or vacate.
The developers' actions are alleged to have been
premature, given that the owner of Mac's Park failed to
provide the homeowners with the statutorily mandated notice
of sale and opportunity to exercise a right of first refusal,
see G. L. c. 140, § 32R, and unlawful, in that, by law,
the homeowners' tenancies could only be terminated for
certain specific reasons, none of which were applicable, see
G. L. c. 140, § 32J. As a result, the plaintiffs allege
that the homeowners put their lives "on hold, "
were unable to sell or lease their mobile homes, and suffered
extreme emotional distress. Acting on a motion to dismiss
filed by the developers, however, a Housing Court judge held
that the plaintiffs failed to state a claim upon which relief
could be granted. See Mass.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), 365 Mass. 754
(1974). This appeal followed, and upon the required de novo
review, we conclude that the factual allegations in the
plaintiffs' complaint are sufficient to plausibly suggest
an entitlement to relief under G. L. c. 93A. See
Iannacchino v. Ford Motor Co., 451 Mass. 623, 636
following facts are derived from the plaintiffs' verified
complaint. Mac's Park is a "manufactured housing
community, " see G. L. c. 140, § 32F, as appearing
in St. 1991, c. 481, § 19, owned by Matthew Lowe. The
park consists of twenty-two numbered lots for
"manufactured homes, " see G. L. c. 140, §
32Q, as appearing in St. 1991, c. 481, § 19, more
commonly referred to as mobile homes. As of the time the
complaint was filed, twenty of the units were occupied. Lowe
owned ten of the twenty occupied units, and the other ten
occupied units were owned by third parties who leased the
lots from Lowe. Plaintiff Newbury Cooperative Corporation
(NCC) is a cooperative housing corporation organized under G.
L. c. 156B and c. 157B; all of its members are owners of
mobile homes located at Mac's Park. Plaintiff Mac's
Homeowners Association (MHA), in turn, is an association
consisting of owners who actually reside in their mobile
homes at Mac's Park. Members of both MHA and NCC
represent a majority of the mobile home owners resident in
Mac's Park. Lowe does not reside at the park. Nor is he a
member of either NCC or MHA.
early 2013, Lowe "advertised, listed or gave public
notice" that Mac's Park was for sale. In accordance
with G. L. c. 140, § 32R, as appearing in St. 1993, c.
145, § 19, therefore, he was required, within fourteen
days, to give notice to "each [park] resident" of
his intention to sell. This he failed to do. And, according
to the plaintiffs, his failure to do so, by law, constituted
an unfair or deceptive act or practice under G. L. c. 93A,
§ 2. See G. L. c. 140, § 32L(7) (failure to comply
with any of the manufactured housing community provisions set
forth in G. L. c. 140, §§ 32A to 32S, constitutes a
c. 93A violation); 940 Code Mass. Regs. § 10.02(3)
(1996) (same); 940 Code Mass. Regs. § 10.09(1) (a)
(1996) (failure to provide the notice required under G. L. c.
140, § 32R[a.], is a c. 93A violation) .
in or about August, 2013, Lowe entered into an agreement to
sell Mac's Park to the defendant developers, James Gebo,
Norman Lee, and Greystone Properties, LLC. The developers
planned to expand the manufactured housing community, remove
all of the existing mobile homes, and replace them with
thirty-three new units that they would own and rent out to
third parties. Under the agreement with Lowe, the developers
were allowed to appear before various public boards and
agencies to seek necessary approvals for the project. This
fact was not disclosed to the homeowners.
early February, 2014, the plaintiffs learned of the sale when
the developers appeared unannounced at Mac's Park and
went from door to door with blueprints for the proposed
project. The message the developers conveyed during that
visit was that the homeowners would have to move out to make
way for the new units.
developers further warned the homeowners "not [to] take
this . . . lightly" and "not to stick your head in
the sand." As alleged in the plaintiffs' complaint,
the visit was emotionally upsetting to the homeowners, at
least one of whom ...