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  • Posts by Michael J. Leard
    Associate

    Michael J. Leard is an associate in Nutter’s Litigation Department. For nearly a decade, Mike has represented individuals and companies of all sizes from across the country in the areas of commercial litigation, product ...

John J. Donovan Loses Again: Court Rules that Award in Derivative Action be Distributed Based on Shareholders’ Investment to Avoid Windfall to Disloyal Fiduciary

In Brining v. Donovan, the latest blow to former MIT business professor, John J. Donovan, Judge Davis held that shareholders in Donovan’s failed internet start-up, SendItLater (SIL), could recover more than $700,000 in attorneys’ fees in addition to a December 2019 award of $1.57 million in damages. Relying on equitable principles, Judge Davis also prohibited Donovan’s company and SIL shareholder, Securenet Holdings, LLC (Securenet), from sharing in the award. Judge Davis also ruled that the award must be distributed to the remaining shareholders based on each shareholder’s investment, rather than per-share basis, so as to render shares obtained by Donovan’s wife, Linda Donovan, under “suspect” conditions effectively worthless.

Justice: Justice Davis
Judge Salinger Thaws Defendants’ Attempt to 'Chill' Malicious Prosecution Claims under Massachusetts’ Anti-SLAPP Statute

In Crotty v. Continuum Energy Technologies, Judge Salinger granted Thomas Crotty’s special motion to dismiss counterclaims for tortious interference brought by Continuum Energy Technologies (CET) and John Preston under the Massachusetts anti-SLAPP statute.   

This is the latest litigation chapter in "the unravelling of a lengthy business relationship" between CET’s co-founders, John Preston and Christopher Nagel, after Nagel resigned in 2014 to form a competing business, IDL Development, Inc. (IDL). Preston and CET brought claims against Nagel and IDL alleging that Nagel had utilized and exploited CET’s proprietary information without a license. In March 2018, the parties entered into settlement and licensing agreements, under which CET licensed certain intellectual property to IDL. Crotty had participated in these settlement negotiations on behalf of IDL as its lead investor. IDL subsequently defaulted on its payment obligations and declared bankruptcy. 

‘Notice Pleading’ Passes the Smell Test in Noxious Odor Matter

Emphasizing the concept of “notice pleading” under Mass. R. Civ. P. 8, Judge Salinger recently denied a gelatin factory’s motion to dismiss. In Baranofsky v. Rousselot Peabody, Inc., a proposed class of neighboring City of Peabody residents brought nuisance, negligence, and trespass claims against Rousselot Peabody, Inc. based on “overpowering smells of rotting flesh” allegedly emitted by its factory.

Summary Enforcement of Settlement Agreement Not Appropriate Due to Ambiguity

In Flessas v. Rouisse, Judge Davis denied “dueling motions” seeking enforcement of the parties’ settlement agreement. The settlement agreement arose out of a dispute in which Costas Flessas alleged that he was fraudulently induced into purchasing a 15% interest in the Essex Sports Center, LLC, which operates an indoor sports facility. The settlement agreement provided that certain defendants would purchase Flessas’ ownership interest, who would thereafter release his claims.

Justice: Justice Davis
Hotel’s Rejection of Confidentiality Agreement Constitutes Rejection of $83 Million Offer to Sell under 'Right of First Offer' Provision

In Headquarters Hotel v. LBV Hotel, Judge Davis ruled that Headquarters rejected LBV’s offer to sell a property interest under a right-of-first-offer provision by refusing to execute a confidentiality agreement included with the offer.

Under an agreement between the parties, LBV has an estate for years in the real estate owned by Headquarters at 154 Berkeley Street, Boston, until 2131 (2131 is not a typo). The agreement includes a right-of-first-offer provision. Under that provision, if either party wants to market its interest to third parties, the selling party must first offer the interest to the other party at the same price and on the same terms the selling party would offer to third parties.

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.

Judge Kaplan Orders Return of Documents Inadvertently Produced

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.  

Court Lacks Personal Jurisdiction Over Connecticut Corporation Incorporated After Its Owner Allegedly Committed Tortious Acts

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.

Michael Leard, a Nutter associate, recently interviewed Judge Brian A. Davis for a feature in the Massachusetts Bar Association’s Complex Commercial Litigation (ComCom) Quarterly. The article, Judge Brian A. Davis Discusses Business Litigation, highlights Judge Davis’s preferences and practices at various stages of litigation, including:

  • circumstances where he may encourage the submission of courtesy copies;
  • ways he may facilitate an expeditious and cost-effective discovery process;
  • topics he may address at the final trial conference; and
  • his voir dire process.

Judge Davis presides in BLS1 for the July – December rotation period. (Judge Kaplan presides in BLS1 for the January – June rotation period.)

YOU MAY ALSO BE INTERESTED IN:

Judge Davis to Replace Judge Leibensperger in BLS1

Justice: Justice Davis
Plaintiff’s Chapter 93A Claim Boomerangs When Plaintiff Moves to Dismiss Chapter 93A Counterclaim

A business plaintiff’s assertion of a Chapter 93A claim could boomerang where the plaintiff moves to dismiss a Chapter 93A counterclaim. That’s a key takeaway from Judge Kaplan’s decision in Microsemi Corp. v. Langlois.

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