Donovan Hatem Client Entitled to Appellate Attorney’s Fees against Frivolous Claim of Title
On May 11, 2020, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court decided a matter of first impression, holding that the state’s Lis Pendens statute mandates an award of appellate attorneys’ fees to the prevailing party on a special motion to dismiss. The Lis Pendens statute, M.G.L. ch. 184, section 15, provides a mechanism for persons with a legitimate claim to title or use of real property to record a notice with the registry of deeds, putting the world on notice of its claim. The statute also provides a mechanism for innocent property owners to contest the claim through the filing of a special motion to dismiss. While the statute clearly provides for the recovery of attorneys’ fees to the prevailing party in the trial court, no appellate court in Massachusetts had extended this right to appellate proceedings. In DeCicco v. 180 Grant Street, LLC , the Supreme Judicial Court clarified, for the first time, that the Statute is “designed to ensure that the successful defendant is made whole by being reimbursed for the legal fees it has incurred” on appeal. Donovan Hatem’s Jon Cowen represented the property owner throughout the trial and appellate court proceedings.