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Martinez v. Lynn Housing Authority

Appeals Court of Massachusetts, Suffolk

January 18, 2019

LUIS MARTINEZ
v.
LYNN HOUSING AUTHORITY.

          Heard: October 12, 2018.

         Civil action commenced in the Land Court Department on July 18, 2016.

         A complaint for contempt, filed on January 26, 2017, was heard by Howard P. Speicher, J.

          Webb F. Primason for the defendant.

          John G. Mateus for the plaintiff.

          Present: Rubin, Wolohojian, & Blake, JJ.

          WOLOHOJIAN, J.

         The Lynn Housing Authority (LHA) appeals from a judgment of civil contempt entered against it following a bench trial in the Land Court. For essentially the reasons given by the trial judge, we affirm.[1]

         Background.

         We summarize the findings of the trial judge, none of which is argued, or shown, to be clearly erroneous. Luis Martinez filed the underlying Land Court action against Marilu H. Rega and her mother, Ana A. Reyes, seeking reformation of a deed in which he conveyed an undivided fee interest in his property at 5 South Elm Street, Lynn (property), to himself and Reyes as joint tenants.[2] Martinez's underlying claim was that Reyes and Rega defrauded him into conveying an interest in the property by falsely claiming that they could help him obtain a modification of his outstanding mortgage loan, which was then in default. Rega and Reyes claimed that they could help Martinez only if he conveyed an interest in the property to Reyes.

         After a hearing at which neither Rega nor Reyes appeared despite receiving notice, the judge issued a preliminary injunction dated July 28, 2016 (July Order), that provided in relevant part:

(1) "defendants Marilu Rega and Ana A. Reyes, are hereby ENJOINED and RESTRAINED from selling, leasing, or otherwise conveying or encumbering their interest in [the property] . . ." and
(2) "defendants Marilu Rega and Ana A. Reyes, their agents, representatives, employees, contractors, and others acting in concert with them or otherwise having actual knowledge of this Order, are hereby ENJOINED and RESTRAINED from entering upon [the property], . . . collecting rents for any part of said property, and from exercising any rights to ownership thereof, and are further ENJOINED and RESTRAINED from interfering with plaintiff Luis Martinez's exercise of ownership rights to [the property], . . . including without limitation, his entry into and maintenance of any part of said property, and other rights of ownership consistent with this Order."

         After a second hearing at which Rega appeared pro se and sought to represent Reyes under a "power of attorney, "[3] the judge issued a further order dated August 17, 2016 (August Order), restating the terms of the July Order (we refer hereafter ...


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