WARD & ASSOCIATES

LANDMARK CASE

The firm of Ward & Associates litigated the landlord-tenant case of PGR Management v. Credle, 427 Mass. 636, 694 N.E. 2d 1273 (1998) and prevailed at the state's highest court, the Supreme Judicial Court.

While the case has several holdings or meanings in the law, it stands primarily for the following two principles: under the withholding statute, 8A, in order to win the right to stay in the apartment, the tenant attempts to amass more money in counterclaims for legal wrongs done by the landlord than the tenant owes the landlord in unpaid rent. In PGR Management, the court decided that attorney's fees won by the tenant from the landlord could not be setoff against the unpaid rent owed to the landlord. In brief, the court guaranteed that the tenant's lawyer, who had taken the case without charging the tenant, and who relied on the fee-shifting statutes to force the losing landlord to pay the tenant's lawyer, would be paid ahead of any other party from the escrow account established in court.

Further, the Supreme Judicial Court held that in their attempts to amass more money in counterclaims than the landlord amassed in unpaid rent, tenants could not use the amount of attorney's fees awarded to their lawyers to offset or otherwise reduce the amount of rent the tenant owed to the landlord.

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