Burns won a judgment in favor of Goodwill Enterprises, Inc., which operates the Automall Collection luxury vehicle dealership in Peabody, MA, in an important case of first impression in Massachusetts Land Court. Goodwill brought the lawsuit after discovering that a 50% beneficial interest in the realty trust that holds the real property the company leases and uses for its dealership was sold without its knowledge, despite the right-of-first-refusal clause in Goodwill’s lease.
Burns’ automotive group investigated on behalf of Goodwill, and discovered the sale of the beneficial interest in Bankruptcy Court. In 2015, Burns filed suit in Land Court, seeking to allow Goodwill to purchase a 50% interest in the realty trust pursuant to the ROFR. Burns successfully argued that the sale of the beneficial interest in the nominee realty trust was the conveyance of real property, which triggered the ROFR. The Land Court granted Goodwill’s motion for partial summary judgment, and held that Goodwill’s ROFR was triggered when the bankruptcy trustee accepted the bid for the sale of the interest in the nominee trust.