Matteson v. Walsh
Appeals Court of Massachusetts
947 N.E.2d 44 (2011)
Dorothy Walsh was the mother of Elizabeth Matteson (plaintiff), Robert Walsh (defendant), and Catherine Baisly. In 1977, Dorothy devised property to Robert, as a life tenant, and the remainder to Robert’s heirs, as well as Elizabeth and Catherine. Dorothy died in 1987. Robert had already been living on the property, and he continued to live there after Dorothy’s death. In 2004, Robert stopped paying taxes on the property. Robert also allowed the residence to fall into disrepair. Elizabeth and Catherine stepped in to pay the delinquent taxes for 2004 and 2005. Robert repaid Elizabeth and Catherine for the 2004 and 2005 taxes. Robert then failed to pay taxes for the next three years. Elizabeth paid those bills as well, but Robert did not repay Elizabeth that time. Elizabeth also continued to pay the utility bills, and she hired a maintenance worker to repair the premises. Robert never objected to the repairs or ordered the maintenance worker to leave. Robert also never reimbursed Elizabeth for any of these maintenance and repair expenses. Finally, Elizabeth sued Robert for waste. At trial, the judge found that Robert had committed waste, because Robert’s failure to pay taxes and maintain the property endangered his siblings’ interests. The judge terminated Robert’s life estate and ordered that Robert, Elizabeth, and Catherine hold title as tenants in common. Robert appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Fecteau, J.)
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