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Wesson v. Leone Enterprises, Inc.

Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
774 N.E.2d 661 (2002)


Facts

John T. Wesson (plaintiff) rented out space in his commercial building to Leone Enterprises, Inc. (defendant). The parties signed a five-year lease beginning on March 31, 1988. In 1991, Leone complained to Wesson about leaks in the roof. Wesson first arranged for his son to repair the leaks, and hired a professional roofer when they reappeared. The leaks kept returning throughout 1991, although they caused no serious damage to Leone’s ability to do business. Leone vacated the premises by December 31, 1991, having paid rent for the entire year. Wesson sued Leone for breach of contract and other claims, and Leone filed several counterclaims, including constructive eviction. The trial court held that Leone had not breached its contract because it had been constructively evicted. Alternatively, the trial court held that Leone could have lawfully withheld rent under the dependent covenants rule, because Wesson had not provided a “dry space,” which was essential to the lease. Wesson appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Cordy, J.)

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