After winning dismissal of lawsuit, Berkshire hotel developer sues rival for more than $1.5 million
PITTSFIELD -- One lawsuit involving rival hotel developers has ended but another --- with one party seeking in excess of $1.5 million in damages -- is on tap in Berkshire Superior Court.
Vijaysinh Mahida, who recently won a dismissal judgment in a suit that targeted his Hilton Garden Inn project off South Street, is suing developer Joseph M. Toole for allegedly delaying the hotel for more than a year.
Mahida claims the delay caused his development firm, Prem Management, LLC, losses in excess of $1.5 million, and he is asking the court to award treble damages, according to his attorney, William E. Martin of Martin, Oliveira & Hamel.
The suit also seeks a permanent injunction preventing Toole or the corporate entities named as defendants from taking any action to block or delay the Hilton construction work, which has resumed.
"My client regrets the need for more legal action, but Joe Toole's actions to derail this [Hilton] project, even after the court's extraordinary orders against him, left my client with no choice but to ask the court to once and for all put a stop to Toole's continuing interference with this project," Martin said Friday in a statement.
Eastern States Real Estate Management, LLC, a corporate entity with ties to Toole, filed suit in May 2013 challenging use of a 270-foot driveway from South Street to the Hilton site, behind the Guido's Fresh Marketplace for a hotel. ESREM had earlier purchased a small parcel along the common 40-foot-wide access way between the highway and the Hilton site.
In February, Judge Daniel A. Ford approved Martin's motion for a summary judgment against the ESREM suit, and an appeal of that decision also was rejected on April 23.
On May 1, Ford ruled on another motion from Martin to award Mahida $78,500 in attorney's fees and costs. The judge stated in part that claims in ESREM's amended complaint "were wholly insubstantial and frivolous, and they lacked substantial basis in both law and fact."
According to Martin, Toole did not appeal that award but has not yet paid the fees.
The new lawsuit, filed Friday by Martin, names as defendants Toole individually, ESREM, and the Toole Lodging Group Inc., which operates hotels in Pittsfield and Lenox and is developing a Courtyard by Marriott hotel in Lenox.
Also named is Samneth Inc., which operates the Comfort Inn at 1055 South St. across from the Hilton building site at 1032 South St. The Dasai family owns the Comfort Inn and in March announced a collaboration with Toole on a planned Holiday Inn Express on the same site, with the Comfort Inn slated for demolition.
Reached Friday, Mayur Desai said he has yet to review the suit with his attorney, John R. Gobel, of Gobel & Hollister, and declined to comment at this time.
Toole referred all comment to his attorney, Richard Dohoney of DeRosa & Dohoney. The attorney said it is too early in the process to issue a specific comment on the details of Mahida's suit, but he added, "I think it is highly unusual for a gentleman [Mahida] who has taken such extreme actions to block two of Mr. Toole's projects to engage in such a lawsuit."
In February, Mahida appealed in Massachusetts Land Court zoning permits granted for Toole's Courtyard Marriott project in Lenox. Previously, Toole sought to build a similar Marriott hotel on a Dan Fox Drive parcel in Pittsfield, but that hotel was stalled after a group of environmentalists challenged city permits through the state Department of Environmental Protection.
Toole has contended that Mahida provided funding for legal advice in that environmental challenge, which led to the DEP overturning the city permit pending a new proposal from Toole for work near wetlands on the parcel.
To reach Jim Therrien: email@example.com, or (413) 496-6247 On Twitter: @BE_therrien
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