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Massachusetts Attorneys Prevail in Legal Battle Over the Aroma of French Pastry

Boston-area Partner Nora R. Adukonis and Attorney Gayatri R. Deodhar prevailed on behalf of our clients in a two-week jury trial in Essex County Superior Court.

Our clients, the owners of a ground-floor commercial condominium in a three-unit mixed-use building in downtown Gloucester, filed suit against the owners of the other two units in the condominium after being subjected to illegal demands, bullying, harassment and threats intended to prevent our clients from leasing their property for use as a restaurant, bakery or café.

During the two-week trial, the former building commissioner and zoning enforcement officer testified that our clients’ unit was commercially zoned and appropriate for a restaurant, bakery or café. A former tenant testified concerning her treatment by the defendant unit owners, and described being a victim of serial, unfounded complaints to the board of health. A food inspector and health department official supplemented the former tenant’s testimony, explaining that the defendants’ complaints were found unsubstantiated.

On cross-examination, the defendant unit owners admitted that they were pleased that they were able to prevent our clients from using their property as a restaurant, and that they were annoyed by the “natural sounds and smells” of the former tenant’s business, a French bakery. The defendants also admitted to their part in preventing our clients from closing on a mortgage.

After more than a day of deliberations, the jury returned a verdict in favor of our clients on counts of tortious interference with advantageous relations and violation of the Massachusetts Civil Rights Act. The jury found our clients not liable on each count of the counterclaims.

Nora handles cases involving land use, administrative law and appeals. She has experience in insurance coverage and subrogation, and has a particular interest in cases that include overlapping issues of first-party coverage, property damage and consumer law.

Gayatri focuses her practice in the areas of construction, employment, premises liability, products liability, personal injury and professional liability.