Judge lets lawsuit over Fall River casino land sale go forward

BOSTON – A lawsuit challenging Fall River’s decision to sell land that could host a casino will continue.
On Tuesday, the Massachusetts Appeals Court denied a request by the Fall River Redevelopment Authority to dismiss the lawsuit brought by a group of taxpayers in October.
The taxpayers charge that the authority overstepped its bounds in agreeing to sell the land – once envisioned as a biopark – to the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe.
The city fired back that the taxpayers had no legal standing to sue.
In a ruling, Justice Scott L. Kafker said it was premature to dismiss the question of whether taxpayers could pursue the case. He called the record at Superior Court – where the lawsuit started – “undeveloped.” Kafker asked the judge handling the case to put together a more complete factual record.
“Resolution of the 10 taxpayers’ standing to challenge the transaction is a critical aspect of the petition before us, and the motion judge is better-positioned to develop the record and address any factual issues necessary to deciding this question,” Kafker wrote.
A lawyer for the taxpayers hailed the decision and said the city’s attempt to dismiss the suit solely on a legal question showed signs of desperation.
“They’re just trying to get it thrown out on a technicality, which obviously we’ll fight,” lawyer Lesley Rich told Providence Business News.
The case, however, may become a moot point. Legislation that would legalize casino gambling in the state appears stalled on Beacon Hill.

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