Sander A. Rikleen quoted in The Boston Globe on longest known neighbor-vs.-neighbor court battle in the state

January 21, 2020

Sander A. Rikleen, partner in the firm’s Litigation Department, was quoted in a January 18, 2020, article in The Boston Globe. The article, “After 17 lawsuits, 27 years in court, a judge rules in Beverly neighbors’ feud,” details a recent Massachusetts Land Court ruling, in which, after nearly 30 years in court, Judge Keith Long ruled that the owner of an empty oceanfront lot in Beverly should be able to build on it, despite the repeated protests of the owner of the 24,000-square-foot mansion next door.

Read the full article at The Boston Globe (subscriber content).

From the article:

“In the latest stage of the conflict, based on a strategy mapped out by Wile’s attorney, Sander Rikleen of the firm Sherin and Lodgen, the focus shifted dramatically.

… Rikleen’s ‘pox on both your houses’ argument boiled down to this: If the Wile lot is unbuildable because it violates zoning regulations, Horvitz’s art gallery wing must be retroactively declared unbuildable as well. In a remarkable 2013 ruling, Judge Long essentially agreed — he stayed the demolition order, however, presumably to encourage both sides to compromise. Yet even he must have known that the chances of that happening were low in the toxic battle.

…Rikleen had made clear his hope that the judge, rather than forcing Horvitz to tear down his art gallery, would allow Wile to build on his property. That would enable Wile, who he said encountered significant financial setbacks after the 2008 recession, to recoup some of the millions he has spent on legal fees, fines, and other costs.

Rikleen said that he reads last week’s ruling by the judge as a ‘pox on the Horvitz house.’ Long wrote that, if the city again denied the Wiles’ building permit on the grounds of inadequate frontage, the Wiles would have “standing to press for the tear-down and removal of the gallery.”

Rather than contemplating Horvitz demolition, Rikleen said he hopes they can get on with Wile construction. Yet he remains cautious. ‘It is very nice to win,’ he said. ‘But I sort of feel like somebody who’s had his ears boxed too many times, so I’m waiting for what’s happening next.’

…Rikleen, who admitted to becoming so emotionally invested in the case that he “carried” Wile at various points when his client was unable to pay his legal bills, called the judge’s ruling a vindication. ‘But it doesn’t put you where you thought you would have been back in the 1990s, when they were newlyweds.’

…’It feels great, but it’s not over,’ Rikleen said. ‘I’ll know it’s real when there’s a building permit granted.'”