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Judge rejects partner’s fraud claims against builder John Fish in condo tower case

The Suffolk Construction chief will move ahead with his lawsuit against developer Stephen Weiner over losses from an abandoned real estate deal.

JOHN FISH (LEFT INSET)
STEPHEN AND ADAM WEINER (RIGHT INSET)
1000 BOYLSTON ST RENDERING
JOHN FISH (LEFT INSET) STEPHEN AND ADAM WEINER (RIGHT INSET) 1000 BOYLSTON ST RENDERING

Construction magnate John Fish won a round in his legal fight with developer Stephen Weiner over a failed real estate deal as a Suffolk Superior Court judge dismissed counterclaims of fraud and negligent misrepresentation brought by Weiner.

Fish sued Weiner, his son Adam, and their firm in October 2019, alleging he lost tens of millions of dollars when the Weiners backed out at the last minute on an agreement to build an $800 million condominium tower on Boylston Street. Fish and the Weiners were partners on the failed project, which would have been built by Fish’s Suffolk Construction with financing put together by the Weiners.

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Almost a year later the Weiners hit back with allegations that Fish falsely said he would be able to obtain all state approvals for the tower by a specific date and on acceptable terms.

But Judge Kenneth W. Salinger accepted Fish’s motion to dismiss the counterclaims, writing in a March 5 order the Weiners “did not plausibly suggest that Fish either made a false statement of fact or promise he did not intend to perform.”

Salinger characterized Fish’s assurances on winning the state’s backing for the project as “statements of belief or expectations, not the stuff fraud claims are made of.”

The order was procedural and didn’t tackle the central dispute in a case pitting two well-known and successful businessmen: Which party killed the condo project?

Fish has argued Stephen Weiner was personally reluctant to backstop $400 million in financing for the condo, and released a statement on Aug. 16, 2019, saying the project had been scrapped — even as workers from Suffolk were preparing the property.

The Weiners countered that Fish was the one who wanted to back out.

“We are pleased that the court has ruled in our favor and dismissed with prejudice the Weiners’ baseless counterclaims of fraud and negligent misrepresentation,” said Fish’s attorney, Paul Popeo of Choate, Hall & Stewart LLP. “We look forward to presenting our case and resolving this matter in court.”

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Last August, Salinger dismissed some claims against the Weiners, but denied their request to throw out seven others, including for intentional misrepresentation and tortious interference with advantageous business relations. The judge also dismissed multiple personal claims against the Weiners, including for breach of contract, but allowed others to proceed.

The Weiners have accused Fish of breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing.

“We look forward to pursuing our remaining claims and establishing, as discovery efforts to date are already showing, that Mr. Fish’s claims are entirely without merit,” said Dot Joyce, a spokeswoman for the Weiners.