Articles Posted in Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court

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The Supreme Judicial Court held that the trial judge did not abuse his discretion by allowing Defendant’s motion to dismiss on the ground of forum non conveniens because a Massachusetts choice of law provision in a confidentiality, nonsolicitation, and noncompetition agreement between the parties in this case was unenforceable. Defendant was employed in California by Plaintiff, a company headquartered in Massachusetts. Plaintiff signed an agreement as a condition of employment that declared that the agreement would be governed by Massachusetts law and that all lawsuits arising from the agreement would be brought in a Massachusetts court. When Defendant left to work for a California competitor, Plaintiff filed suit in the Massachusetts Superior Court. Defendant filed a motion to dismiss on the ground of forum non conveniens, and the trial judge allowed the motion. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) where California substantive law would apply under choice of law principles and where the application of Massachusetts substantive law would violate California public policy favoring open competition and employee mobility, the Massachusetts choice of law provision was not enforceable; and (2) the trial judge did not abuse his discretion in deciding that this action should be dismissed on the ground of forum non conveniens. View "Oxford Global Resources, LLC v. Hernandez" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the superior court’s dismissal of this complaint under the statute of repose, holding that a claim alleging that a building contractor committed an unfair or deceptive act under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 93A, 2 and 9 by violating Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 142A, 17(10) is subject to the six-year statute of repose set forth in Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 260, 2B. In 2016, Plaintiff brought this action alleging that renovations performed in 2000 to 2001 by Defendants caused a fire in her home in 2012. A superior court judge dismissed the complaint as untimely under the six-year statute of repose. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) Plaintiff’s chapter 93A claim was sufficiently tort-like to bring it within the ambit of the statute of repose; and (2) because this action was commenced more than six years after the work was completed, it was barred by chapter 260, section 2B, and therefore properly dismissed. View "Bridgwood v. A.J. Wood Construction, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court held that a recall election to remove Plaintiff, a member of the board of selectmen of the town of Townsend, from office pursuant to the town’s recall act may not proceed because the act provides for a recall vote to take place only on grounds not alleged here. In 2017, Petitioners, ten registered voters residing in the town, submitted to the town clerk a petition seeking to recall Plaintiff, citing malfeasance and neglect of duty as grounds for the recall. Plaintiff commenced an action to enjoin the recall election, contending that the allegations made against her were legally insufficient to initiate a recall under the act. The superior court denied Plaintiff’s motion for a preliminary injunction, but a single justice of the Appeals Court ordered that a preliminary injunction issue. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the recall election may not proceed because the allegations in the affidavit supporting the petition for recall do not fall within the act’s enumerated grounds. View "King v. Town Clerk of Townsend" on Justia Law

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Unpreserved arguments on appeals from sexual dangerous proceedings under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 123A are to be reviewed for a substantial risk of a miscarriage of justice. In 2011, Petitioner was committed to the Massachusetts Treatment Center as a sexually dangerous person pursuant to Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 123A, 12. In 2012, Petitioner filed a petition for examination and discharge. The jury found Petitioner continued to be sexually dangerous, and the trial court entered an order continuing his commitment. On appeal, Petitioner argued, among other things, that a written report of a psychological examination conducted one day before trial was improperly admitted at trial. In response, the Commonwealth argued that the issue was waived because Petitioner did not object to the report’s admission at trial. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) unpreserved arguments on appeals from sexual dangerous proceedings under chapter 123A are to be reviewed for a substantial risk of a miscarriage of justice; (2) the trial court did not err in admitting the report; and (3) trial counsel did not provide ineffective assistance. View "In re R.B." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the county court denying, without a hearing, Petitioner’s petition for relief under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 211, 3, in which Petitioner sought a stay of execution of a default judgment issued against her in a summary process action in the Boston Municipal Court (BMC). A single justice ultimately denied the petition without a hearing. In affirming, the Supreme Judicial Court held that the judgment of the BMC was subject to review in the ordinary appellate process. View "Yahya v. Rocktop Partners I, LP" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the county court denying, without a hearing, Petitioner’s petition for relief under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 211, 3, in which Petitioner sought a stay of execution of a default judgment issued against her in a summary process action in the Boston Municipal Court (BMC). A single justice ultimately denied the petition without a hearing. In affirming, the Supreme Judicial Court held that the judgment of the BMC was subject to review in the ordinary appellate process. View "Yahya v. Rocktop Partners I, LP" on Justia Law

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The Appellate Division erred in summarily dismissing F.C.’s appeal from a terminated commitment and treatment order as moot in reliance on Matter of N.L., 476 Mass. 632, 633 (2017). Following F.C.’s involuntary hospitalization, McLean Hospital filed a petition for F.C.'s commitment. F.C. was involuntarily committed and treated after a hearing. F.C. appealed, and his appeal was staying pending the decision in Matter of N.L. As the appeal was pending, F.C. was discharged from the facility. Citing Matter of N.L., the Appellate Division summarily dismissed the appeal as moot. The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the Appellate Division’s order and remanded for determination of the appeal on its merits, holding that appeals from expired or terminated commitment and treatment orders under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 123, 7, 8, and 8B should not be dismissed as moot where the parties have a continuing interest in the case. View "In re F.C." on Justia Law

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For the same reasons stated in Rental Prop. Mgmt. Servs. v. Hatcher, 479 Mass. __ (2018), also decided today, the Supreme Judicial Court held that Fred Basile, a property manager, had no standing to bring a summary process action in his own name when he was neither the owner nor the lessor of the property. Basile brought this summary process action in the name of his sole proprietorship seeking to evict a tenant from a property for which Basile was neither the owner nor the lessor. The tenant asserted counterclaims for the unauthorized practice of law and violations of Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 93A. The trial judge enjoined Basile from commencing summary process actions such as the one in this case but entered judgment in favor of Basile on the chapter 93A counterclaims. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) Basile had no standing to bring the summary process action; (2) to the extent Basile was acting as the agent of the property owner, he engaged in the unauthorized practice of law by signing and filing the complaint because he was not an attorney; and (3) Basile’s conduct on its own did not constitute an unfair or deceptive practice in violation of chapter 93A. View "Ahmed-Kagzi v. Williams" on Justia Law

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Fred Basile, a property manager, had no standing to bring a summary process action in the name of his sole proprietorship seeking to evict a tenant from a property for which Basile was neither the owner nor the lessor. To the extent that Basile was acting on behalf of the property’s true owner when he filed the complaint, his conduct constituted the unauthorized practice of law because Basile was not an attorney. The Supreme Judicial Court further held (1) where the plaintiff in a summary process action is not the property’s owner or lessor, the complaint must be dismissed with prejudice for lack of subject matter jurisdiction; (2) where the plaintiff is the true owner or lessor but the complaint has been signed and filed by another non-attorney person, the court may either dismiss the complaint without prejudice based on the unauthorized practice of law or allow the plaintiff to retain counsel or proceed pro se; and (3) where a plaintiff seeks to evict a tenant without the standing to do so, or where a person who is not authorized to practice law signs and files a summary process complaint, and where that conduct is not inadvertent, a court has the inherent authority to impose appropriate sanctions. View "Rental Property Management Services v. Hatcher" on Justia Law

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There was personal jurisdiction over Exxon Mobil Corporation with respect to the Attorney General’s investigation into whether Exxon knew, long before the general public, that emissions from fossil fuels contributed to climate change and whether the company sought to undermine the evidence of climate change in order to preserve its value as a company. Based on her authority under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 93A, 6, the Attorney General issued a civil investigative demand (CID) to Exxon Mobil Corporation seeking information and documents relating to Exxon’s knowledge of and activities related to climate change. Exxon moved to set aside or modify the CID, arguing that it was not subject to personal jurisdiction in Massachusetts, that the Attorney General should be disqualified for bias, that the CID violated Exxon’s statutory and constitutional rights, and that the case should be stayed pending a ruling on Exxon’s request for relief in federal court. A superior court denied the motion and allowed the Attorney General’s cross motion to compel Exxon to comply with the CID. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) there was personal jurisdiction over Exxon; and (2) the trial judge did not abuse her discretion in denying Exxon’s requests to set aside the CID, disqualify the Attorney General, and issue a stay. View "Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Attorney General" on Justia Law