Articles Posted in Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court

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A district court judge is not required, pursuant to Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 218, 19 and 19A, to grant a plaintiff’s motion to dismiss a compulsory counterclaim under Mass. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(10) because the counterclaim is reasonably likely to result in the recovery of more than $25,000. After Plaintiff sued Defendant, Defendant brought a counterclaim, asserting damages of $110,000. Citing rule 12(b)(1) and Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 218, 19 and 19A(b), Plaintiff moved to dismiss the counterclaim, arguing that the district court could not proceed with a counterclaim in excess of $25,000. The judge denied the motion. A single justice denied Plaintiff’s petition filed under Mass. Get. Laws ch. 211, 3. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that the district court may proceed with a case properly before it where a counterclaim exceeds the $25,000 procedural limit. View "Rockland Trust Co. v. Langone" on Justia Law

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Petitioner, a Boston police officer, filed an application for a criminal complaint alleging that Respondent, her supervisor, committed an assault and battery against her. Two clerk-magistrates denied the application for lack of probable cause. Petitioner then filed a petition under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 211, 3 seeking a rehearing on her application and a broader ruling requiring that applications for criminal complaints made against police officers be automatically transferred to a judge outside the police officer’s jurisdiction rather than being heard by a clerk-magistrate int he first instance. A single justice denied relief without holding a hearing. The Supreme judicial Court affirmed, holding that, under the circumstances presented here, Petitioner was not entitled to extraordinary relief. View "In re Application for a Criminal Complaint" on Justia Law

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Washington commenced a medical malpractice action in a federal district court against Maryjo Gagliani. A medical malpractice tribunal reviewed the case and found for Gagliani. Washington then moved the superior court to reduce the amount of the bond required for him to pursue his claim in the face of an adverse tribunal ruling. The superior court denied the motion. Washington filed a notice of appeal, but the notice was never processed. The superior court, meanwhile, allowed Gagliani’s motion to dismiss Washington’s complaint for failure to post the bond. The matter was then transferred back to the federal court. The federal court allowed Gagliani’s motion to dismiss due to Washington’s failure to post a bond. Washington filed a Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 211, 3 petition seeking relief from the superior court’s “failure to docket and recognize his appeal of” the tribunal’s ruling. A single justice denied relief. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that the superior court and appeals court had no jurisdiction after the tribunal’s ruling to act further with respect to that ruling. Washington could not pursue his claim and challenge the tribunal’s ruling in the federal courts. View "Washington v. Gagliani" on Justia Law

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After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of possessing child pornography. Defendant appealed, arguing that the district court erred in denying his motion to suppress computer evidence obtained pursuant to a search warrant issued for the the place searched because the police needed more information to link Defendant to the place searched and the items seized. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that there was a substantial basis from which to conclude that the evidence of downloading and sharing child pornography via the Internet was probably present at the place to be searched. View "Commonwealth v. Martinez" on Justia Law

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Bahig Bishay brought an action bringing various claims arising from Plaintiff’s eviction from his home. Bishay named as defendants National Investigations, Inc. and its principals (collectively, National), Harvard 45 Associates, LLC and its principals (collectively, Harvard), and Allied Finance Adjusters Conference, Inc. (Allied). Allied’s motion to dismiss was allowed. Also allowed was Harvard’s motion for summary judgment as to both the claims against it and a counterclaim it asserted against Bishay. Thereafter, Bishay and National (collectively, Petitioners) settled their dispute and moved for entry of final judgment. The motion was denied. Petitioners then filed a petition seeking relief in the nature of mandamus and requesting that the clerk of the superior court be ordered to enter final judgment as Petitioners proposed. A single justice denied relief without a hearing. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that the single justice neither erred nor abused her discretion by denying extraordinary relief, as Petitioners had other remedies available to them. View "Bishay v. Clerk of the Superior Court in Norfolk County" on Justia Law

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In 1971, the City of Quincy, as trustee of the Adams Temple and School Fund (Adams Fund), sought a decree authorizing it to execute a proposed fifty-year lease of a building and parking lot of the Adams Academy that it had negotiated with the Quincy Historical Society (Society). In 1972, a single justice of the Supreme Judicial Court decreed that the City was authorized to execute the proposed lease. In 2014, the successor trustee of the Adams Fund (Plaintiff) filed a complaint seeking rescission of the lease and money damages, arguing that the City violated its fiduciary duty to the Woodward School for Girls, Inc., the sole income beneficiary of the Adams Fund, by executing the lease. Defendants, the City and the Society, moved for summary judgment, arguing that they were entitled to judgment under res judicata. The single justice allowed Defendants’ motion. Plaintiff appealed, contending that he should not be precluded by res judicata from obtaining relief because neither he nor the Woodward School was a party to the 1972 equity proceeding. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that Plaintiff was precluded by res judicata from prevailing on his challenge to the execution of the lease. View "DeGiacomo v. City of Quincy" on Justia Law

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Petitioner was the defendant in a summary process action in the Housing Court. In 1993, the Appeals Court affirmed. In the years since then, Petitioner repeatedly sought to challenge the foreclosure that led to the summary process action, without success. In 2015, Petitioner filed a motion seeking to vacate the Appeals Court’s 1993 decision. The Appeals Court denied relief. Petitioner subsequently filed a petition pursuant to Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 211, 3 in the county court. A single justice denied the petition. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) Petitioner failed to prosecute her appeal, and therefore, her appeal could be dismissed on this basis alone; and (2) Petitioner’s claims failed on the merits. View "Eresian v. Merrill Lynch Credit Corp." on Justia Law

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The United States Court of Appeal for the First Circuit certified two questions of state law to the Massachusetts Supreme Court. The questions arose in the context of a bankruptcy proceeding, and concerned the power and effect of an affidavit of an attorney, executed pursuant to G.L. c. 183 section 5B, in relation to a mortgage containing a defective certificate of acknowledgement. The first question centered on whether, pursuant to the statute, a recorded mortgage omitting the name of the mortgagor, a material defect of that mortgage. The second question centered on whether the recording of that allegedly defective mortgages provides constructive notice of the mortgage to a bona fide purchaser, either independently or in combination with the mortgage. The Massachusetts Supreme Court answered both questions "yes." View "Bank of America, N.A. v. Casey" on Justia Law

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The Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) filed a complaint for summary process in the Housing Court to establish its right to possession of the Rego house, which Fannie Mae purchased at a foreclosure sale. The Regos argued that the foreclosure sale conducted by GMAC, which held the mortgage, was void because GMAC's attorneys had not been authorized by a prior writing to undertake the actions set forth in G. L. 244, 14. They also asserted an equitable defense and counterclaims. The judge granted Fannie Mae summary judgment "as to possession only," and scheduled a bench trial on the counterclaims, but later dismissed the counterclaims for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court vacated. The foreclosure suffered no defect on the asserted ground that GMAC failed to provide such authorization to its attorneys, but the Housing Court has limited authorization to entertain counterclaims and an equitable defense to the foreclosure sale in the summary process action. View "Fed. Nat'l Mortgage Ass'n v. Rego" on Justia Law

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B.V.G., a young woman with intellectual disabilities, has been in the sole custody of her father for many years. He was named her temporary guardian when B.V.G. reached age 18. Her maternal grandfather sought to intervene in B.V.G.'s father's permanent guardianship proceedings, asserting that his relationship with B.V.G. has been restricted by her father, that B.V.G. has indicated expressly her desire to communicate with him and has sought contact with him via social media, and that such a relationship is in B.V.G.'s best interests. Concluding that the grandfather lacked standing because he was not an "interested person" within the meaning of G.L. 190B, 5-306(c), a judge denied the motion. The Appeals Court affirmed the denial, on different grounds. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court reversed, first holding that the grandfather had standing. The statute is intended to provide a means by which an individual interested in the welfare of an incapacitated person can advocate on behalf of that person and the Massachusetts implementation of the Uniform Probate Code encourages a broad right of advocacy in favor of an incapacitated person's protected interest in a limited guardianship. Once a judge has concluded that a proposed intervener is an "interested person," nothing more is required to establish that person's entitlement to intervene. View "Guardianship of B.V.G." on Justia Law