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).
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.
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.
During discovery, plaintiff America’s Test Kitchen moved to compel production of documents withheld under a claim of attorney-client privilege. The defendants had withheld certain communications with an outside consultant to their business – CPK Media, LLC – regarding legal advice sought by the LLC.
In Parker v. EnerNoc, Inc., Judge Salinger considered the plaintiff’s request for attorneys’ fees after the plaintiff prevailed on her employment-based claims at trial. According to Judge Salinger, the plaintiff did not submit “any real evidentiary support” for her attorneys’ hourly rates. Judge Salinger nonetheless relied on his own experience of “prevailing market rates for similar services by persons with comparable experience” to determine whether the fees were reasonable.
Last summer, Judge Salinger ruled in Oxford Global Resources, LLC v. Hernandez that a plaintiff employer’s litigation against a former employee belonged in California, not Massachusetts. The defendant was employed in California by the plaintiff, which is headquartered in Massachusetts. Judge Salinger dismissed the case on forum non conveniens grounds—despite the presence of a Massachusetts choice of law provision and a Massachusetts forum selection provision in the employment agreement.
In a case concerning allegedly unfair student loan collection practices, Judge Salinger concluded that a Pennsylvania public corporation, the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA), is a “person” potentially subject to Chapter 93A liability.
In Anesthesia Associates, Judge Salinger rejected the plaintiff’s motion for a preliminary injunction because, in essence, the motion constituted a premature creditor’s bill.
In a case concerning alleged violations of the Massachusetts law governing the involuntary towing of motor vehicles, Judge Salinger concluded that the defendant’s “attempt to ‘pick off’ the named plaintiff did not moot [the plaintiff’s] individual claims or the class action.”
- Senior Editor, Co-Chair, Business Litigation Practice Group