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  • Posts by Eric P. Magnuson
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    Eric P. Magnuson co-chairs Nutter’s Business Litigation practice group. Blending practicality with tenacity and strategic thinking, Eric helps clients solve legal challenges so that his clients can focus on what they do ...

After prevailing at trial, Cedar Hill Retreat Center sought sanctions against the plaintiffs under G.L. c. 231, § 6F. That statute authorizes a judge to award a moving party reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs if the judge finds that “all or substantially all of the claims, defenses, setoffs or counterclaims . . . made by any party who was represented by counsel . . . were wholly insubstantial, frivolous and not advanced in good faith.” Judge Salinger denied the motion because he was not convinced that “all or even substantially all of the claims against Cedar Hill were frivolous and not advanced in good faith.”

That is not to say, however, that the court did not find one of the claims “troubling.” Judge Salinger struggled to “discern what good faith basis the [Reed] Foundation had for alleging that Cedar Hill’s challenged activities were in trade or commerce and therefore subject to c. 93A, or that those activities constitute unfair or deceptive acts or practices and would have violated c. 93A if the statute applied in the first place.” But even if he assumed that the 93A claim was wholly insubstantial and not asserted in good faith, that was not enough, according to Judge Salinger, to impose § 6F sanctions. Cedar Hill did not show, Judge Salinger wrote, “that all or substantially all of the Reed Foundation’s claims . . . were both frivolous and not asserted in good faith” (emphasis added).

Wildlands Trust of Southeastern Massachusetts, Inc. v. Cedar Hill Retreat Center, Inc., et al. (September 3, 2019)

Judge Sanders denied a plaintiff’s motion seeking the court’s blessing of the plaintiff’s confidentiality designations. Pursuant to a confidentiality order, the plaintiff classified as “Confidential — Attorney’s Eyes Only” more than 650,000 pages of documents. The plaintiff claimed that a review of a few hundred of the documents showed that they contained competitively sensitive information. Judge Sanders stated, however, that “the designation of documents as attorney’s eyes only should be sparingly used.” She also explained that the plaintiff failed to show how or why the documents deserved confidentiality protection. At the end of the day, the plaintiff failed to satisfy its burden under the confidentiality order, according to Judge Sanders.

Clean Harbors Environmental Services, Inc. v. Sheppard, et al. (August 27, 2019)

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.

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.

Earlier this fall, the Social Law Library sponsored a panel discussion entitled Written Motion Practice at the BLS: A Deep Dive on Effective Techniques. The four BLS judges—Judges Davis, Kaplan, Salinger, and Sanders—participated on the panel. Three lawyers also joined the panel: Maureen Mulligan, Peabody & Arnold LLP; David H. Rich, Todd & Weld LLP; and Daniel P. Tighe, Donnelly, Conroy & Gelhaar, LLP. Eric Magnuson served as moderator.

It’s been a busy year at the BLS Blog. As we wrap up 2018, take a look at our top five most well-read posts:

  • America’s Test Kitchen Faces Abuse of Process Claim: Judge Salinger denied
    America’s Test Kitchen’s motion to dismiss an abuse-of-process claim asserted by William Thorndike, Jr. According to Thorndike, America’s Test Kitchen brought a baseless lawsuit to hinder Christopher Kimball’s efforts, supported by Thorndike, to compete against America’s Test Kitchen. That assertion, according to Judge Salinger, was sufficient to state an abuse-of-process claim.

Judge Kaplan stayed a securities litigation filed in the BLS in favor of a securities litigation filed in federal court. The plaintiff in Lowinger v. Solid Biosciences Inc. filed his putative class action in the BLS. A day earlier, the plaintiff in Watkins v. Solid Biosciences Inc. filed his putative class action in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts. Both cases alleged that the defendant, Solid Biosciences Inc. (SBI), had violated the Securities Act of 1933 when shares of SBI stock were sold to SBI investors.

Judge Kaplan recently ruled that the Superior Court does not have jurisdiction over an out-of-state defendant under the Massachusetts long-arm statute, G.L. c. 223A, § 3. The case involves two competing businesses that design and market apps for restaurants: SCVGR d/b/a LevelUp and Punchh.

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