Arthur Leon, who has been battling construction of an 18-unit condo building on Harrison Avenue since it was first proposed in 2011, is now suing several insurance companies for not helping to pay for his legal struggles over the building, which is on land entirely surrounded by a large industrial building he owns.
Despite his efforts to block construction of the Jordan Lofts, the project opened years ago.
In his suit, Leon says the four insurance companies have abrogated their responsibilities under the policies he had purchased to help shield him from "malicious prosecution" and "vexatious litigation," in his case, the still open 2015 suit by developer John Holland and his 477 Harrison Ave, LLC against him over his repeated attempts to kill the project.
Leon, a Westwood resident, claims he and his company, JACE Boston, LLC, are on the hook for potentially millions of dollars in that lawsuit despite the fact he will be exonerated, even though he keeps losing in court.
After both sides in the building dispute charged each other with filing "strategic lawsuits against public participation," the Supreme Judicial Court ruled in 2019 that it was Leon - who once called 911 to complain about construction workers on the Holland project - who was trying to keep Holland from his right to petition government, in this case, for permission to create the condos and then, three years later, add three new units to the top of the building.
Despite the SJC ruling, which came in Holland's still open 2015 suit against Leon, Leon continues his fight.
Leon initially filed his suit against the insurance companies in May in Suffolk Superior Court. This week, the companies - Landmark American Insurance Co., American Safety Indemnity Co., First Mercury Insurance Co. and Navigators Specialty Insurance Co. - all based out of state, moved to have the case transferred to federal court in Boston because they are not Massachusetts companies and because Leon and JACE are seeking more than the $75,000 minimum required for a federal lawsuit.