EBC Member Beveridge & Diamond Wins Land Court Judgment Enforcing Conservation Restriction for Pro Bono Client Sudbury Valley Trustees

Article from Beveridge & Diamond:

EBC Member Beveridge & Diamond (B&D) has secured a major victory on a summary judgment motion in Massachusetts Land Court for long-time pro bono client Sudbury Valley Trustees (SVT), a non-profit land trust with the mission of protecting natural areas and farmland for wildlife and people in Massachusetts.

In Sudbury Valley Trustees, Inc. v. Iron Horse Equestrian, LLC. 32 Land Ct. Rep. 111 (2024), B&D successfully pursued violations of a conservation restriction by the fee owner of the property, Iron Horse Equestrian,on behalf of SVT. B&D developed the necessary facts and expert opinions in the discovery phase of the case and then argued in its summary judgment motion that Iron Horse Equestrian had violated a 2008 Conservation Restriction (CR) held by SVT by filling a large area designated as a no-build zone in the CR, burying two natural streams and wetland areas, and constructing a large outdoor horse-training facility. The Massachusetts Land Court agreed with B&D and found that the riding ring violated the construction prohibitions in the CR and that the construction activity impermissibly destroyed protected natural resources on the property.

Following the successful summary judgment motion, the B&D team obtained a court order requiring the removal of the offending structure and the restoration of the damaged wetlands and resource areas pursuant to a detailed remediation plan negotiated with the defendant.

This court decision is not only a win for B&D’s client Sudbury Valley Trustee, but is also a win for the Massachusetts land trust community at large, as the decision affirms the important role that land trusts and conservation restrictions play in protecting the Commonwealth’s natural resources. In Massachusetts, there are approximately 150 land conservation organizations and over 393 conservation restrictions.

Laura Mattei, SVT’s Director of Conservation, commented, “This is an incredible victory for conservation in Massachusetts. This case sets a strong precedent that the State and our court system honor the conservation values of conservation restrictions. This will make it much less likely that other CR landowners will so blatantly violate the terms of a CR. And if they do – they will be held accountable. SVT is extremely grateful to Beveridge & Diamond for their excellent counsel in winning this case.”

Under the leadership of Principal Eric Klein, Associates Mike Campinell and Lauren Karam led the litigation with help from Associate Lia Crutchfield. Senior Counsel Steve Richmond, a former SVT board member, also advised on the case, having worked with the organization for many years.

Pro Bono work is a top priority at B&D. Over half of all B&D attorneys participate in the firm’s pro bono efforts. The firm undertakes a variety of pro bono work, such as amicus briefs on racial justice and the rule of law, immigration and refugee support, landlord-tenant issues, and criminal clemency cases. Our litigators are actively involved in and monitor cases in courts nationwide. With decades of experience in toxic torts, class actions, Superfund and site remediation, enforcement defense, regulatory challenges, and business and contract disputes, our litigation team is well-equipped to handle diverse legal matters.