United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
MEMORANDUM & ORDER
NATHANIEL M. GORTON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
case arises from a property dispute between Michael and Susan
Pascucci (“plaintiffs” or “the
Pascuccis”) and the Town of Lynnfield, Massachusetts
and its Board of Selectmen in their official capacities
(collectively “the defendants”). The Pascuccis
allege that the Town of Lynnfield made an unlawful taking of
their property without just compensation. They seek a
judgment enforcing their right of ownership of the subject
property or, alternatively, entitling them to just
Pascuccis have owned a condominium in the Partridge Island
development complex (“the Pascucci unit”) since
1995. The Partridge Island Complex was built as part of the
Local Initiative Program (“LIP”) pursuant to
M.G.L. c. 40B. LIP is a state-run initiative that encourages
the creation of affordable and low income housing. It is
administered and regulated by the Massachusetts Department of
Housing and Community Development (“DHCD”).
requirement of LIP, a specific number of units in the
Partridge Island complex were designated as
“affordable” and sold at roughly 50% of their
fair market value. The Pascucci unit was purchased at such a
discounted rate. In turn, the DHCD promulgated regulations at
760 C.M.R. 45.00 requiring unitowners to abide by certain
restrictions. LIP required that applicable restrictions be
endorsed on the deed rider. One of the constraints so posted
was a prohibition on renting affordable units. The plaintiffs
allege that LIP has been repealed and that Section 45.00 is
no longer in effect but the defendants rejoin that the former
regulation has simply been superseded by 760 C.M.R. 56.00.
owning the condominium for many years, the Pascuccis bought a
residence on Kenniston Road in Lynnfield. Mr. Pascucci
asserts that in 2012 or 2013 he requested in writing of DHCD
and the Town of Lynnfield that he be granted permission to
rent and eventually to sell his unit. Plaintiffs claim that
neither DHCD nor the town acted on his letter. Eventually,
the Pascuccis chose to rent the unit for a “minimal
amount of money” sufficient only to cover the mortgage
and utility payments.
or 2015, Mr. Pascucci wrote another letter to the Town and to
DHCD seeking permission to sell the unit. After receipt of
that letter, the Town discovered the property had been
previously rented. In April, 2014, Lynnfield filed suit
against the Pascuccis in the Massachusetts Superior Court for
Essex County seeking 1) to enforce the deed rider, 2) collect
profits from the rent and 3) to declare its rights. See
Town of Lynnfield v. Michael Pascucci et al., Civil
Action No. 2014-0612.
Court ordered the Pascuccis to produce certain documents but
they failed to do so. The Town then moved for default
judgment under the Massachusetts Rules of Civil Procedure and
that motion was allowed. In August, 2016, the Superior Court
denied the Pascucci's motion to vacate or clarify the
default judgment and in July, 2017, the Massachusetts Appeals
Court dismissed their appeal for want of prosecution. The
Pascuccis retained new counsel who moved to reinstate the
appeal but that motion was denied.
complaint asserts that Lynnfield unconstitutionally
appropriated the Pascucci unit and that they are entitled
either to a declaratory judgment that they are the rightful
owners of the property or entitled to just compensation.
Plaintiffs also seek immediate and interim equitable relief
to prevent unrecoverable and irreparable damage to the
property. The four-count complaint specifically alleges 1)
unlawful governmental taking in violation of the Fifth
Amendment, 2) unlawful regulatory taking, 3) failure to
provide a valuation of the property and 4) violation of
procedural due process.
before the Court are cross-motions for judgment on the
III of the United States Constitution confines the judicial
power of federal courts to actual “cases” or
“controversies”. Valley Forge Christian Coll.
v. Americans United for Separation of Church & State,
Inc., 454 U.S. 464, 471 (1982). The justiciability
doctrine of ripeness grows out of “Article III
limitations on judicial power and  prudential reasons for
refusing to exercise jurisdiction, ” Reno v.
Catholic Social Services, Inc., 509 U.S. 43, 57, n. 18
(1993) (citations omitted). It ensures that the “harm
asserted has matured sufficiently to warrant judicial
intervention.” Warth v. Seldin, 422 U.S. 490,
499 n. 10 (1975).
demonstrate that a claim is ripe for litigation, a plaintiff
must show 1) “the fitness of the issues for judicial
decision” and 2) “the hardship to the parties of
withholding court consideration.” Roman Catholic
Bishop of Springfield v. City of Springfield, 724 F.3d
78, 89 (1st Cir. 2013) (citation omitted).
question of ripeness may be considered on a court's own
motion.” Nat''1Park Hosp. Ass'n v.
Dep't of Interior, 538 ...