In Verveine Corp., et al., v. Strathmore Insurance Company, et al., the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) held that claims for business losses made by three restaurants arising from COVID-19 dining restrictions were not covered by “all-risk” property insurance policies because the losses were not “direct physical loss or damage” under those policies.
In spring 2020, Governor Baker issued an emergency order prohibiting in-person dining at restaurants and bars in the Commonwealth. Two of the plaintiffs responded by offering takeout and delivery services, while the third plaintiff suspended operations. Though limited in-person dining resumed in June 2020, the plaintiffs continued to lose revenue due to the restrictions. The restaurants filed insurance claims for the lost income. Strathmore Insurance Company denied the claims. The restaurants then brought a declaratory judgment action against Strathmore and asserted claims for breach of contract and violation of G. L. c. 93A and G. L. c. 176D. Superior Court Judge Sanders dismissed the claims, ruling that the restaurants did not suffer “direct physical loss or damage,” as required by the policies.
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.
It was another eventful year at the BLS, which included Judge Green replacing Judge Kaplan in the BLS1. As 2020 concludes, check out our top five widely read posts:
- 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.
- 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).
- lululemon’s Motion to Dismiss Eviction Case Denied: In CWB Retail Limited Partnership v. Lululemon USA, Inc., lululemon moved to dismiss a summary-process action brought by its landlord, CWB Retail Limited Partnership.
- Comcast Prevails in Dispute over Interpretation of Commercial Lease: Maynard Industrial Properties Associates Trust (MIPA), a commercial landlord, sued Comcast of Massachusetts III, Inc. (Comcast). The dispute focused on the amount Comcast would owe under an extension of the amended lease.
- 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.
In Jackie 888, Inc. v. Tokai Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Jackie 888 sued Tokai on behalf of itself and a putative class of individuals who had purchased Tokai stock, alleging Tokai made misleading statements in an IPO registration statement and prospectus. Jackie 888 moved for class certification.
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 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)
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.
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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- Senior Editor, Co-Chair, Business Litigation Practice Group