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PSD Wins Case in SJC Involving President Adams and His Creation of a Charitable Trust

In a written Decision and Order dated July 27, 2015, the Supreme Judicial Court threw out a case brought by the Trustee of the Adams Temple and School Fund against the Quincy Historical Society and the City of Quincy.  PSD represents the Quincy Historical Society in the matter, led by Barry Pollack.

The Adams Fund, which was established by President John Adams, owns a building and land in Quincy Center that, until 1907, housed a school for boys known as the Adams Academy.   After the Adams Academy closed, the Adams Fund leased the property to different entities in the public interest.  Eventually, in 1972, the then-Trustee for the Adams Fund leased the property to the Quincy Historical Society.   The then-Trustee obtained court approval of the lease before entering into it.

In 2014, a new Trustee brought an action claiming that the former trustee breached fiduciary duties by leasing the property to the Quincy Historical Society for 50 years at what has now allegedly become a below market value rent.

The SJC ruled that the claims were barred by the doctrine of res judicata based on the 1972 decree approving the lease.  As a result, the SJC stated that the claims against the Quincy Historical Society were based on a mistake of law.  The SJC rejected arguments by the new Trustee that res judicata did not apply because a new beneficiary of the Adams Fund, known as the Woodward School for Girls, was not a party to the 1972 proceeding.  The SJC found the argument unconvincing because the Adams Fund is a charitable trust, not a private trust, making the Attorney General the appropriate party named in the 1972 proceeding.  None of the Trustee’s claims in this matter survived the SJC ruling.