Where a party prevails on a Chapter 93A claim, the party should submit a fee application that segregates the fees for the work necessary to prevail on the Chapter 93A claim. That’s the key takeaway from Commonwealth Insurance Partners, LLC, et al. v. Patricia Boucher, et al., a case in which the plaintiffs asserted claims for breach of contract, violation of fiduciary duties, and violation of Chapter 93A.
After prevailing on their claims at trial, the plaintiffs filed an application for attorneys’ fees under Chapter 93A. Judge Ricciuti, sitting in the Business Litigation Session of the Massachusetts Superior Court, found that “the result obtained by Plaintiffs’ counsel under Chapter 93A was substantial and the successful result was achieved by experienced, reputable and capable attorneys.” He ruled that the plaintiffs’ lawyers “merit[ed] an appropriate legal fee.”
Judge Ricciuti, sitting in the Massachusetts Business Litigation Session, rejected a shareholder’s claim that she could shed herself of the fiduciary duty she owed to a close corporation by renouncing her shares in the corporation.
In Empire Dealer Services, Inc., et al. v. Guerin, et al., Empire Dealer Services, a close corporation, and John Kane, Empire’s sole director, president, treasurer, and secretary, sued Guerin, a former vice president and a minority shareholder of Empire, and Drive Dealer Performance, Guerin’s new company. The plaintiffs sought an injunction to stop Guerin from pursuing the new venture, claiming that Guerin was violating her fiduciary duties owed to Empire and Kane.
In conjunction with the Massachusetts Bar Association, the current BLS judges prepared personalized responses to practice-related questions. Those questions and answers were then turned into a practice guide, which you can link to here. The guide, presented in question-and-answer format, has a wealth of information on topics of interest to practitioners and clients alike.
Judge Ricciuti ruled that the plaintiff, whose educational-travel trip was cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, stated a viable Chapter 93A claim that the contractual remedy provided by the tour operator improperly limited available regulatory remedies.
In Godines, et al. v. EF Explore America, Inc., the contract permitted the tour operator to cancel the plaintiff’s trip due to an “Extraordinary Event.” There was no dispute that the COVID-19 pandemic was such an event. The contract further provided that, in the event of cancellation, customers would receive a voucher for future travel, less non-refundable fees. But the applicable consumer-protection regulation, 940 CMR 15.06, provides that if a trip is cancelled, a travel company must offer a full refund, a substitution travel service of equal value, or a lower-valued travel service and refund the difference. The contract, in other words, offered “more limited relief,” and the tour operator issued only a partial refund.
The judges sitting in the BLS during calendar year 2022 recently adopted and published guidance about their preferences and practices on court proceedings and filings. These preferences and practices include:
- encouraging the active participation in court proceedings by junior attorneys;
- asking parties to include in motion papers a brief explanation of their preference between in-person versus virtual proceedings;
- promoting in-person trials and evidentiary hearings; and
- explaining the circumstances where paper or digital copies should accompany electronic filings.
The complete guidance can be found here.
Three new judges have joined the BLS rotation.
Judge Peter Krupp replaced Judge Karen Green for the January-June rotation period of BLS1. In 2013, Governor Deval Patrick appointed Judge Krupp to the Superior Court. Before his appointment, Judge Krupp founded Lurie & Krupp (n/k/a Lurie Friedman); worked for the Committee for Public Counsel Services; and served as an Assistant Federal Public Defender in the District of Massachusetts. Judge Krupp began his career as an Associate at Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky & Popeo. You can find more information about Judge Krupp’s background at Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly.
A few weeks ago, the Social Law Library sponsored its annual review of the BLS. Like most events over the past year, the 2020 Year in Review was conducted virtually with Judge Kenneth Salinger and BLS practitioners logging on to discuss significant decisions as well as practice tips and court procedures during these unusual times. While the way the BLS conducts its business changed in 2020, it is evident that the court’s ability to effectively manage complex business and commercial disputes has not. Below are five key takeaways from the 2020 Year in Review program: