Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots, is suing the town of Foxborough in a Massachusetts business litigation case that is starting to get ugly.
As our Belmont business litigation attorneys understand it, at the heart of the issue is a government contract involving two billboards, posted on land owned by Kraft and posted near Gillette Stadium.
For the last five years, there has been an agreement that has worked out well for all sides. This involved the split of advertising revenue acquired from these boards between the town and FXP, which is another of Kraft’s business ventures.
But the timetable on that agreement is set to run out in mid-May. Kraft has said that after that, the town needs to move the billboards. The town, meanwhile, claims that the agreement stipulated Kraft had to give up rights to the billboard after that five-year deadline.
According to Business Week, the town continued on with its seeking bids for construction on the billboards and also for other advertisers. When Kraft objected, the city threatened to seize the land by order of eminent domain.
When Kraft tried to schedule a time slot to speak before the town’s governing board, the board refused to hear him, prompting Kraft to file a federal civil rights claim, which resulted in a temporary restraining order that required the board to allow him to speak. Kraft’s lawyer was quoted as saying the town manager knew that what Kraft would say was contrary to the town’s desired action, so he was denied the right to present that opposition in a public forum.
Town officials say they have easements, or a right to use the property, even though they don’t own it. Kraft doesn’t argue with that, but says those rights don’t mean they can hang on to the billboards – and the profits derived from them.
In this situation, Kraft is a multi-millionaire, with a lot of clout and the resources to go up against the town of Foxborough. However, smaller companies would have a more difficult time facing down the government. This is where having an experienced small business litigation lawyer on your side is going to greatly improve your odds of an outcome in your favor.
It’s especially important to get out in front of an issue like this before it snowballs. Any time you sign a contract with a government, you should have your own attorney review it. This will not only ensure that the terms are clear and fair, but that there will be no surprises down the line.
Entering into an agreement with a government is much different than one you might enter with another company. Often, that starts with how you get the contract phase at all – through bidding. Whoever can effectively complete the project or service for the least amount of money, in theory, will land the contract.
However, consulting with a lawyer before signing on the dotted line can save you many headaches.
A Belmont business law firm, The Brown Law Firm, LLC, has offices in Belmont and Boston. For a free and confidential consultation, call Attorney Graeme Brown at 617-489-0817 or contact us through this website.