Blakeley v. Gorin

Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court313 N.E.2d 903 (Mass. 1974)

Facts

Blakeley et. al. (plaintiffs) owned two parcels of land that were separated by an alley. One parcel was a Ritz-Carlton hotel and the other was vacant, but the plaintiffs planned to construct a hotel-apartment building on the vacant lot and connect it to the Ritz-Carlton via a 12-story bridge over the alley. Gorin et. al. (defendants) owned an apartment building next to the plaintiffs’ vacant lot. The properties shared the same alley. About half of the apartments in the defendants’ building received their natural light and air from windows facing the alley. Each of the properties in this case is subject to the restriction that the common alley must “be kept open.” The restriction was put in place when the neighborhood was mostly single family residences, but since that time, many of the small residences have been replaced by high-rise apartments and hotels. Blakeley filed suit seeking a declaratory judgment that the restrictions were obsolete and no longer enforceable. The Massachusetts Superior Court ruled that the restrictions were obsolete and that Gorin et. al. were entitled to only nominal damages. Gorin appealed.

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