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  • Posts by Alison C. Casey
    Associate

    Alison C. Casey is an associate in Nutter’s Litigation Department and works with clients primarily on complex intellectual property and commercial litigation as well as labor and employment matters. Clients rely on Alison’s ...

Atomic Café Trademark Litigation Against LeanBox and Cold Brew Does Not Trigger Travelers Indemnity’s Duty to Defend or Indemnify, Judge Green Rules

In The Travelers Indemnity Company v. Lean & Local LLC, Travelers sought a declaration that it did not owe its insureds indemnity or a defense. Judge Green granted Travelers summary judgment. The claims asserted against the insureds in a trademark case, Judge Green ruled, did not trigger coverage under the policies’ “advertising injury” provision.

The trademark case, filed in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts, involved claims by Atomic Café against LeanBox and Cold Brew, the insureds under the policies. Atomic Café alleged that the defendants’ use of Atomic Café’s mark on the defendants’ website constituted trademark infringement.

Justice: Justice Green

As we previously blogged, Facebook and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey (AG) are embroiled in a dispute over documents. After Facebook refused to produce certain information created in the course of its “App Developer Investigation,” the AG filed a petition in the BLS to compel Facebook’s compliance with her civil-investigative demand. Facebook opposed the petition, claiming that the sought-after information was work product and protected by the attorney-client privilege. Judge Davis rejected Facebook’s arguments, ordering Facebook to produce documents within 90 days of his order.

After Judge Davis handed down his order, Facebook filed a notice of appeal and moved for a stay pending appeal. The AG opposed the stay. Judge Davis denied the motion.

Judge Davis grounds his denial on two main points.

First, according to Judge Davis, the automatic-stay provision of Mass. R. Civ. P. 62(a) does not apply to the court’s prior order compelling production of documents. That prior order, Judge Davis wrote, “is most appropriately viewed as ‘an interlocutory or final judgment in an action for an injunction,’ which does not qualify for an automatic stay under Rule 62(a).”

Second, Facebook failed to convince Judge Davis that he should exercise his discretion to stay the prior order.

Recognizing that this Judge represents a difficult audience to convince that the [prior order] is erroneous, the Court—viewing the question as objectively as it reasonably can—sees nothing in Facebook’s motion papers which lead it to believe that Facebook’s pending appeal is likely to prevail. The arguments that Facebook intends to pursue on appeal all were considered and rejected by this Court . . . . The Appeals Court may see it otherwise, but this Court remains of the humble opinion that [its prior order] was correctly decided and is likely to be affirmed—rather than overturned—on appeal. For this reason alone, the Court, acting within its discretion, chooses to deny Facebook’s request for a stay of the [prior order].

The Business Litigation Session of the Massachusetts Superior Court

Docket Number: 1984CV02597-BLS1

Case Name: Attorney General v. Facebook, Inc.

Dates of Decision: March 2, 2020

Judge’s full name: Brian A. Davis

Justice: Justice Davis
Facebook Ordered to Turn Over Internal Investigation Documents to Massachusetts Attorney General

Judge Davis of the BLS ordered Facebook to produce documents to Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey (AG). The AG obtained the order while investigating Facebook’s policies and protections related to user data. The AG’s decision to investigate Facebook was prompted, in part, by media reports about Cambridge Analytica’s misuse of Facebook user information, including private data associated with millions of Facebook users residing in Massachusetts.

Justice: Justice Davis

In Parker v. EnerNOC, Parker alleged that she was terminated less than one month after closing the most lucrative client contract in EnerNOC’s history in part because she complained about the amount of her commission for the contract. Although Parker prevailed on her Wage Act claim in the BLS, she appealed after the BLS judge did not treble a portion of the commissions she was owed. Parker, as discussed below, prevailed on appeal. 

For the second time, sanctions have been ordered against the plaintiff in Tam v. Federal Management Co., Inc., et al.

In 2016, we blogged about Judge Leibensperger’s sanction to disqualify Siew-Mey Tam as a class representative after finding that she made materially false and misleading statements in her affidavit to the court in support of her motion for class certification. These false statements came to light during post-certification discovery, when Tam’s deposition testimony revealed inconsistencies with her affidavit and cast substantial doubt on her credibility. Judge Leibensperger also decertified the class, in part, because of Tam’s inconsistent representations.

Justice: Justice Davis
Community Health Systems Affiliate Found Subject to Personal Jurisdiction in Massachusetts

In Steward Health Care System v. CHSPSC, Judge Sanders found that CHSPSC, an affiliate of Community Health Systems (CHS), is subject to personal jurisdiction in Massachusetts for claims made under transition-services agreement (TSAs) signed along with an asset-purchase agreement (APA).

Under the APA between Steward Health Care System LLC (Steward) and CHSPSC, Steward agreed to purchase eight hospitals outside Massachusetts. Under the TSAs between the same parties, CHSPSC agreed to provide services to facilitate the transition of the hospitals.

Court Quashes Subpoena ‘Stunning in its Over Breadth’

In Lewis PR v. Murphy, Judge Kaplan quashed the plaintiff’s subpoena requesting 20 months of the defendant’s cell phone records. Judge Kaplan found that the subpoena was abusive and “stunning in its over breadth.”

The plaintiff sued the defendant for alleged breach of a restrictive covenant in an asset purchase agreement. In discovery, the plaintiff subpoenaed Verizon to produce records reflecting all telephone bills, text messages, and call data for the defendant’s personal cell phone for a period of 20 months. The defendant moved to quash the subpoena.

Alternative Demands for Relief Allowed in Burns Bridge Ruling

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.

Commissions Contingent on Customer Payments Are Permissible Under the Massachusetts Wage Act  

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
Court Certifies Class Action Against Six Flags for More Than 18,000 Seasonal Employees Complaining of Unpaid Overtime

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.

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