Menu
Environmental Litigation, Nutter McClennen & Fish LLP Photo
Print PDF

Environmental Litigation

Overview

Clients consistently call upon our team of litigators when faced with difficult disputes or conditions involving real estate, land use and environmental issues. Our team includes some of the nation’s top ranked environmental and land use litigators. This team has established the law governing insurers’ obligations to property owners, and also won some of the biggest eminent domain awards in Massachusetts.

Clients also choose us for our emphasis on delivering value as well as results. We prepare each case to be won without breaking the client’s budget, committing significant partner level attention to each and every matter for the sake of efficiency without overstaffing. Our unleveraged partner-to-associate ratio results in superior associate training and satisfaction (as reflected in nationwide surveys), which means that clients do not have a revolving door of associate lawyers assigned to their cases.

Read More

Our Team

We take great pride in training and developing generations of litigators. We have in-house mock trial and moot court programs, and conduct our own “nuts and bolts” preparation on how to try cases to win. We know how to find the crux of even the most complex cases, and how to present the best possible arguments to a judge or jury in a way that is both clear and compelling. Our team is constantly striving to assess, analyze and improve its performance. We don’t prepare to negotiate, we prepare to win. This aggressive approach of preparing cases to be won has not only resulted in many favorable verdicts, but also many more favorable pre-trial judgments or dismissals, and many favorable settlements.

Nutter’s real estate, land use and environmental litigation team includes: 

  • Six lawyers named in the peer-reviewed “Best Lawyers in America;”
  • Ten lawyers named as Massachusetts Super Lawyers, two lawyers repeatedly named as Super Lawyers in prior years, and a young lawyer named as a “Rising Star;”
  • Seven lawyers listed as “leaders in their field” by Chambers USA;
  • A former Massachusetts Superior Court Judge and Probate Court Judge;
  • A former clerk to the Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Land Court; and 
  • Numerous lawyers who have authored or co-authored articles or books about real estate, land use, environmental law and litigation practice.

Our team has also been:

  • Ranked as a tier one Boston law firm for work in both real estate and environmental law by U.S. News & World Report; and 
  • Listed among the ranked firms nationwide in both litigation and real estate in the Chambers USA survey.

Who We Represent

We represent a broad spectrum of clients, including:

  • Public and privately held companies, including family owned businesses; 
  • Property owners; 
  • Real estate developers; 
  • Governmental entities, such as state agencies and municipalities; 
  • Individuals; 
  • Non-profit entities; 
  • Professionals, such as architects, brokers and engineers; 
  • Real Estate Investment Trusts and other complex real estate entities; and 
  • Service firms associated with real estate and development (for sales, engineering, testing, etc).

As a result of our work in this area, our team has in-depth knowledge about the many industries in which our clients compete, such as: 

  • Biotechnology and life sciences; 
  • Computer hardware and software; 
  • Construction and related services; 
  • Energy and utility services; 
  • Financial services, including insurance, banking, and investment banking; 
  • Hospitals, nursing homes and health care; 
  • Industrial materials; 
  • Manufacturing; 
  • Medical devices and instrumentation; 
  • Media and publishing; 
  • Pharmaceuticals; 
  • Professional services such as accounting and engineering; 
  • Real estate development; 
  • Retail and other service sector industries; 
  • Specialty chemicals; 
  • Transportation, both public and private.

What We Do

Our team helps clients to assess risks and make decisions about litigation prior to the filing of any suit. We give candid advice about the prospects for success and the pursuit of other options from the outset of an engagement. We help clients prepare effectively for trial and/or to negotiate favorable settlements.

We routinely handle disputes involving: 

  • Adverse possession; 
  • Affordable housing projects under Chapter 40B; 
  • Complex construction disputes; 
  • Development projects including commercial, residential and retail projects; 
  • Easements, access, and ingress and egress rights; 
  • Eminent domain and regulatory takings; 
  • Environmental matters, including state and federal Superfund matters under Chapter 21E and CERCLA, RCRA, the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Wetlands Protection Acts, and other state and federal regulations; 
  • Historic district preservation under Chapter 40C; 
  • Insurance coverage; 
  • Nuisance and trespass; 
  • Lease and sale of properties; 
  • Performance bonds; 
  • Permitting and license issues; 
  • Purchase & sale agreements and other real estate contracts; 
  • Registered land; 
  • Restrictive covenants; 
  • Sick Building Syndrome, mold, and other issues concerning indoor air quality; 
  • Unfair or deceptive trade practices under Chapter 93A; and 
  • Zoning, subdivision, planning, and other land use issues.

To effectively represent our clients, our team members have appeared as in multiple forums, including: 

  • Massachusetts Superior Court for all counties, including the Business Session; 
  • Massachusetts Land Court; 
  • Massachusetts Probate Court; 
  • Massachusetts Housing Court; 
  • Massachusetts Appellate Tax Board; 
  • Massachusetts Appeals Court and Supreme Judicial Court; 
  • U.S. District Court of Massachusetts and 1st Circuit Courts of Appeal; 
  • U.S. Bankruptcy Court and Tax Court 
  • State and federal courts in other jurisdictions; 
  • Various Massachusetts administrative agencies such as the Department of Environmental Protection, Massachusetts Highway Department, Housing Appeals Board, and the State Building Code Appeals Board; 
  • Municipal planning and zoning boards; 
  • Regional planning boards, and commissions such as the Cape Cod Commission; 
  • Various forums for mediation, arbitration, and other dispute resolution services.

View Practice Team

Representative Matters

Representative Matters

  • Permitting and land use litigation

    Permitting and land use litigation of numerous projects for National Development of New England, including, most recently, the Bridges in Andover.

  • Zoning permits upheld on appeal

    The MA Appeals Court upheld the Superior Court’s decision affirming client’s zoning permits, which had been appealed by several abutters.

  • Obtained declaratory judgment in client’s favor on breach of P&S claims

    On motions for summary judgment and judgment on the pleadings, Superior Court dismissed claims of breach of contract by seller who sold client a 50 acre property that client was developing.

  • Obtained voluntary dismissal of abutters’ appeal of zoning relief

    After discovery and summary judgment proceedings, obtained voluntary dismissal of abutters’ appeal of zoning relief for development of private racquet and swim club, allowing the project to proceed without further delay.

  • Obtained summary judgment on abutters’ appeal of Historic District Commission certificates

    On summary judgment, Superior Court dismissed abutters’ appeal of certificates of appropriateness issued by Historic District Commission, and obtained dismissal of subsequent appeal.

  • Obtained favorable settlement in connection with all claims arising from the alleged “sick building” status

    Successfully assisted the Special Assistant Attorney General representing the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in connection with all claims arising from the alleged “sick building” status of the former home of the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (the Ruggles Center).

  • Represented Commonwealth of Massachusetts as Special Assistant Attorney General in connection with claims arising from alleged "sick building" status of "Ruggles Center"

    Service as Special Assistant Attorney General representing the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in connection with all claims arising from the alleged “sick building” status of the “Ruggles Center,” the former home of the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles. These matters involved extensive personal injury and property damage claims arising from alleged illnesses at the building in question, along with a thirty million dollar claim against the Commonwealth for breach of its lease agreements. After several years of litigation, the matters were successfully resolved with a multi-million dollar payment to the Commonwealth.

  • Represented local redevelopment authority in real estate, environmental and permitting matters for the redevelopment of the former South Weymouth Naval Air Station (now known as SouthField)

    Represented a local redevelopment authority in real estate, environmental and permitting matters for the redevelopment of the former South Weymouth Naval Air Station (now known as SouthField), closed as part of BRAC 1995, including negotiating transfer documents with the United States Navy, drafting smart growth zoning by-laws and regulations, negotiating disposition and development agreements with private developer, issuing infrastructure development revenue bonds for public improvements, amending the enabling legislation for the redevelopment authority and issuing permits for private development.

  • Won a $4.15 million jury verdict in favor of a landowner

    Won a $4.15 million jury verdict in favor of a landowner harmed by both temporary and permanent takings of land related to a service station facility. 

  • Won a $2.45 million jury verdict in favor of a landowner in an eminent domain case

    Winning a $2.45 million jury verdict in favor of a landowner in an eminent domain case related to the Bourne rotary project on Cape Cod.

  • Defeated challenges to housing project under the Massachusetts Tidelands and Wetlands Protection Acts

    Successfully representing the developer of a 299-unit affordable housing project, defeating challenges to the project under the Massachusetts Tidelands and Wetlands Protection Acts.

  • Successfully defeated a challenge to a certificate granted under a local historic district ordinance

    Successfully defeating a challenge to a certificate granted under a local historic district ordinance to a commercial property owner to expand an existing commercial building on the North Shore. 

  • Successfully defended a special permit granted to a retail developer

    Successfully defending a special permit granted to a retail developer of a South Shore project.

  • Successfully argued a number of the leading environmental cases in both the First Circuit Court of Appeals and the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court

    Successfully argued a number of the leading environmental cases in both the First Circuit Court of Appeals and the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, including Trustees of Tufts University v. Commercial Union Ins. Co., which established a multi-year defense cost obligation on the part of insurers as to environmental claims under Massachusetts law.

  • Obtained a multi-million dollar award in favor of a group of industrial companies in a suit against an environmental consultant

    Obtained a multi-million dollar award in favor of a group of industrial companies in a suit against an environmental consultant for breach of that consultant’s obligations to conduct an environmental cleanup.

  • Obtained favorable jury verdict in real estate contract dispute

    Successfully trying before a state court jury a real estate contract dispute for a nationally known paper company.

  • Obtained favorable jury verdict in land damage claim

    Successfully trying before a state court jury a land damage claim for a residential homeowner.

  • Obtained favorable arbitration ruling

    Successfully represented a paper mill in an arbitration hearing involving breach of a construction contract.

News & Insights

News

Experience

More >