In Back Bay condo project gone wrong, Fish also sues lawyers
Already in a legal battle with his former partner over a scuttled condo tower in Back Bay, John Fish is also suing his former lawyers.
On Friday, the chairman of construction giant Suffolk filed a lawsuit in Suffolk County Superior Court against the law firm Goulston & Storrs, claiming that one of the firm’s main partners had committed ‘professional misconduct’, advising Fish’s former business partner – developer Stephen Weiner – behind Fish’s back, while simultaneously charging for his time.
This is the latest salvo in the ongoing legal battle between Fish and Weiner over an $ 800 million condominium project that collapsed in 2019, and it hangs out in one of the real estate law firms. most important in the city, which advises on countless projects around Boston.
In his 63-page lawsuit, Fish claims that Alan Rottenberg, a major partner in Goulston’s real estate practice, had an “undisclosed personal financial interest” in Weiner’s development firm – Weiner Ventures – and advised to his long-time client to withdraw from the business. even as Fish continued to invest money in it. As he continued to invest and take on more debt to appease lenders, Fish claims, Rottenberg worked to minimize the risks of the deal for Weiner and ultimately helped him kill the project shortly before a first shovelful of earth scheduled for summer 2019.
“Goulston & Storrs actively worked with the Weiners to delay the project as a negotiating tool against Fish,” Fish attorneys wrote in their lawsuit, calling it “a strategy that ultimately prevented the project from securing a financing and fail “.
He is claiming $ 300 million in damages.
Lawsuits between Fish and Weiner – whose company built the Mandarin Oriental, among other projects – have been flying for about 18 months, since the Massachusetts Department of Transportation officially ended the 1000 Boylston, which was supposed to be a 27-story luxury. . tower condos built primarily on air rights above the Massachusetts Turnpike near the Hynes Convention Center. In August 2019, on the eve of a planned first groundbreaking, Weiner issued a statement ending the project, citing “a combination of factors.”
Weiner and Fish were partners, and Fish claimed Weiner killed the deal prematurely and publicly, rather than making personal guarantees on the loans, a move, according to Fish, cost him $ 43 million that Suffolk Construction had already spent on pre-development costs. In September, Weiner counterattacked, saying Fish was just trying to save face by blaming him for the collapse of the project, and noted that Fish’s construction company had also planned a big salary to build the tower. Weiner spokeswoman Dot Joyce said on Friday that this latest lawsuit was just another effort by Fish to deflect blame.
“The end result in this whole thing is that he couldn’t live up to his end of the deal,” Joyce said. “Who is next to blame and to be sued is the real question.”
The lawsuits between Fish and Weiner are still pending in court and some of the claims made by each party have been dismissed. In filing their lawsuits, Fish’s current attorneys say they uncovered documents detailing Rottenberg’s relationship with the Weiners, including owning a 1.5% stake in Weiner Ventures which Fish says was never disclosed. , as well as what they said were his conflicts of interest in also representing the interests of the fish. They also note that Goulston collected $ 12 million in legal fees for his work on 1000 Boylston.
“While Fish ultimately lost tens of millions of dollars, Goulston & Storrs benefited greatly,” they wrote, “without even a shovel being driven into the ground.”
Goulston, for his part, strongly disputes Fish’s claims, saying that he represents neither Fish nor Weiner personally, but rather the business enterprise that the two formed, and that each party signed a waiver acknowledging him early on. Fish disputes this claim, saying the only such letter he signed involved a much earlier iteration of the deal in 2010. Rottenberg did not respond to messages seeking comment, but the company, in a statement , called Fish’s lawsuit “absolutely without merit and without merit”. “
“While it is disappointing that the development at 1000 Boylston Street did not take place, it was not the result of Goulston & Storrs actions or omissions,” the company said. “Neither side has received preferential treatment; we treat all of our customers with the same respect and superior service.