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Chamberlain v. Badaoui

Appeals Court of Massachusetts, Suffolk

July 25, 2019

WALTER CHAMBERLAIN & another, [1] trustees, [2]
v.
CHARLES M. BADAOUI & another.[3]

          Heard: October 11, 2018.

         Civil action commenced in the Superior Court Department on June 2, 2010.

         A count seeking injunctive relief was considered by D. Lloyd Macdonald, J., on a motion for partial summary judgment, and the remaining counts were heard by Douglas H. Wilkins, J.

          David B. Chaffin for the defendants.

          William F. Spallina (Mark B. Johnson also present) for the plaintiffs.

          Present: Henry, Shin, & Singh, JJ.

          HENRY, J.

         This dispute between two condominium unit owners requires us to determine whether a condominium master deed contains an express easement permitting one unit owner to enjoy an easement through another owner's unit to gain access to a fire escape. Because we conclude that it does not, we also must determine whether one unit owner can enjoy an easement by necessity through another owner's unit for the same purpose. We conclude that an easement by necessity does not arise under these circumstances. Accordingly, we reverse.

         Background.

         We summarize the undisputed facts material to this appeal. The plaintiffs, Walter Chamberlain and Yin Kau Ho, as cotrustees of the Walter Chamberlain Revocable Trust (trustees), and defendant Byblos Investments International, LLC (Byblos), [4] each own units in a condominium located at 549-551 Boylston Street in Copley Square in the city of Boston. Walter Chamberlain, individually, originally held a commercial lease for unit 201 commencing November 1, 1993. In August of 1998, the owner of the building, Molded Antennas for Telecommunications, Inc. (MAT), converted the building to a five-unit condominium and executed and recorded a master deed. MAT sold unit 201 to Walter Chamberlain on October 1, 1998.[5] MAT sold unit 101 to Byblos on March 7, 2008. Byblos leases unit 101 to Wendy's Old Fashioned Hamburgers of New York, Inc. (Wendy's).

         Unit 101 is comprised of 1, 025 square feet in the basement, 1, 900 square feet on the ground floor, 1, 725 square feet on the first floor (also referred to as the mezzanine), and 1, 100 square feet on the second floor at the rear of the building.[6] Wendy's uses this second floor space as a mechanical room. Unit 201 is on the front of the building facing Copley Square and contains 825 square feet on the second floor. There is a stairway leading to a landing on the second floor, which is located between unit 201 and the second-floor portion of unit 101.

         The master deed defines the units, and then defines the condominium common areas, expressly stating that the common areas are "the entire property . . . other than the Units." The master deed grants to units 201, 301, 401, and 501 the "exclusive right and easement ... to use" certain specific areas, including the fire escape stairs:

"Certain Units shall have the exclusive right and easement to use certain of the common areas and facilities as set forth below;
"(b) Units 201, 301, 401 and 501 are granted the exclusive right and easement ... to use the elevator adjoining the foyer, the main stair leading to the fifth floor, and the fire escape stairs located on the Building for the purpose of providing access and emergency egress to such Units, and shown on the plans as the 'Unit 201, 301, 401 and 501 Exclusive Use Areas' all subject to the obligations and restrictions contained in this Master Deed, the By-Laws, the Rules and Regulations of the Condominium Trust, and Chapter 183A."

         The fire escape stairs are attached to the rear exterior wall of the building. The second-floor portion of unit 101 lies between unit 201 and the fire escape; thus, from the second floor, the fire escape stairs are ...


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