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Ruling on a motion seeking the return of inadvertently produced privilege materials, Judge Kaplan elaborated on the meaning of “inadvertent” in the context of Massachusetts Rule of Civil Procedure 26(b)(5) and so-called clawback agreements.  

In Renova Partners v. Michael Singer and Greenlight Development Partners, Judge Sanders granted Greenlight’s motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction because, among other things, Greenlight was “not even in existence” when the allegedly tortious acts occurred.

Judge Sanders granted partial summary judgment in favor of Raw Seafoods, Inc. (RSI), a seafood processor, in a coverage dispute with its insurer, Hanover Insurance Group (Hanover). Judge Sanders held that Hanover was bound by a federal court’s finding that the damage to an RSI seafood shipment was caused by RSI’s negligence, rather than from a disqualifying intentional act.

Earlier this year, the Social Law Library hosted the “2018 Business Litigation Year in Review.” The presenters, including BLS Judge Kenneth W. Salinger, offered commentary on some recent BLS decisions.  

Judge Kaplan’s recent ruling in the “Burns Bridge” litigation provides helpful guidance on the interplay between breach of contract and professional negligence claims.

In The Middlesex Corporation, Inc. v. Fay, Spofford, & Thorndike, Inc., plaintiff The Middlesex Corporation, Inc. (Middlesex) alleged that defendant Fay, Spofford, & Thorndike, Inc. (FST) negligently prepared engineering designs and drawings that caused Middlesex to underestimate steel costs by $4 million for the Kenneth F. Burns Memorial Bridge rehabilitation project.  In its motion for summary judgment, FST argued in part that Middlesex’s breach of contract claim must be dismissed because the “gist” of the claim is for professional negligence, a claim that Middlesex had also alleged.

Judge Sanders refused to grant summary judgment for America’s Test Kitchen (ATK) on Christopher Kimball’s defamation claim. According to Kimball, ATK defamed him when it posted information on its website after the litigation began. That information included, among other things, ATK’s complaint against Kimball, a chronology of events, and a section on frequently asked questions.

In Lukas v. Unidine Corp., et al., Judge Davis held that, under the Massachusetts Wage Act, GL c. 149, § 148, employee commissions can be conditioned on receipt of customer payments on which the commissions are based. Judge Davis found that the Wage Act did not require Unidine to make further commission payments to the plaintiff following her resignation and granted summary judgment in favor of Unidine.

Justice: Justice Davis

Judge Sanders certified a class of more than 18,000 Six Flags seasonal employees complaining that the amusement park failed to pay overtime.

The park pays its seasonal employees on an hourly basis, but not overtime. In support of this policy, Six Flags relied on G.L. c. 151, § 1A(20), which excuses amusement parks from paying overtime if they do not operate more than 150 calendar days a year. The plaintiffs countered that in recent years Six Flags recorded attendance at the park on 150 days or more—in addition to days when the park is open for private or special events. Judge Sanders granted the motion for class certification because the plaintiffs’ claim that Six Flags operated more than 150 days of the year was common to all members of the overtime class.

Judge Davis’s recent denial of an anti-SLAPP motion to dismiss provides helpful guidance on how to distinguish between counterclaims used as solely as a “cudgel” and meritorious claims in breach of contract cases. The ruling also underscores the importance of drafting clear release language in a settlement agreement.

Justice: Justice Davis

In the litigation between Equifax and Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General, Judge Sanders rejected certain provisions of Equifax’s proposed protective order for the production of sensitive discovery materials, including documents about Equifax’s network and cybersecurity program. Equifax moved for the protective order in Commonwealth of Massachusetts v. Equifax, a case arising from the 2017 Equifax data breach that affected roughly 143 million U.S. consumers. Judge Sanders’ ruling on the protective order follows Judge Salinger’s denial of Equifax’s motion to dismiss on April 2, 2018.

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