Articles Posted in Antitrust & Trade Regulation

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Limoliner Inc., which owned and operated a fleet of luxury motor coaches, hired Dattco, Inc. to perform repair work on one of those vehicles. While Dattco recorded most of those requests in writing, Dattco neglected to write down Limoliner’s verbal request to repair one of the vehicle’s important electrical components. When Dattco failed to make any repairs to that component, Limoliner commenced this action, alleging, inter alia, that Dattco violated Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 93A, 2(a), as interpreted by 940 Code Mass. Regs. 5.05(2), by failing to record Limoliner’s request in writing. Dattco removed the case to federal court on the basis of diversity jurisdiction. Following a jury-waived trial, a magistrate judge found for Dattco on Limoliner’s regulatory claim under 940 Code Mass. Regs. 5.05, concluding that the provision at issue applies only to consumer transactions and not to transactions where the customer is another business. Limoliner appealed, and the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit certified a question regarding the issue to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court answered that 940 Code Mass. Regs. 5.05 does apply to transactions in which the customer is a business entity. View "Limoliner, Inc. v. Dattco, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, two motor vehicle dealers and an organization that represents the interests of new automobile and truck franchised dealerships in the state, filed this action against Tesla Motors, Inc., an automobile manufacturer, and Tesla Motors MA, Inc., its Massachusetts subsidiary, alleging violations of Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 93B and conspiracy to violate chapter 93B. The superior court dismissed Plaintiffs’ complaint, concluding that Plaintiffs lacked standing to maintain the action because they were not affiliated dealers of Tesla or Tesla MA. At issue before the Supreme Judicial Court was whether the 2002 amendments to chapter 93B broadened the scope of standing under the statute since the Court’s 1985 decision in Beard Motors, Inc. v. Toyota Motor Distribs., Inc. such that Massachusetts motor vehicle dealers now have standing to maintain an action for an alleged violation of the statute against unaffiliated motor vehicle manufacturers or distributors. The Court affirmed, holding that chapter 93B does not confer standing on a motor vehicle dealer to maintain an action for violation of the statute against a manufacturer with which the dealer is not affiliated. View "Mass. State Auto. Dealers Ass’n, Inc. v. Tesla Motors MA, Inc." on Justia Law

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Employees of Michaels Stores, Inc. request and record customers' zip codes in processing credit card transactions. Plaintiff, a customer of Michaels, filed an action on behalf of herself and a putative class of Michaels customers in the federal district court, alleging that Michaels unlawfully writes customers' personal identification information on credit card transaction forms in violation of Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 93, 105(a) (the statute). The Supreme Court accepted certification to answer questions of state law and held (1) a zip code constitutes personal identification information for purposes of the statute; (2) a plaintiff may bring an action for violation of the statute absent identity fraud; and (3) the term "credit card transaction form" in the statute refers equally to electronic and paper transaction forms. View "Tyler v. Michael Stores, Inc." on Justia Law

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In 2003, Plaintiffs filed a complaint against a police officer and city, alleging that, in 1999, the officer entered Plaintiffs' convenience store, arrested two of the plaintiffs, and beat all of the plaintiffs. Two of the plaintiffs were acquitted of criminal charges, but, in the meantime, Plaintiffs lost their business and suffered physical and emotional injuries. More than thirteen years after the incident and after a "tortuous" procedural history, the case arrived at the Supreme Court on limited further appellate review. In Jones II, the appeals court ordered the reinstatement of a 2004 default judgment against Defendants. The Court also had before it on direct appellate review an order of the superior court that amended the 2004 default judgment to correct a clerical error and that reinstated it. The Supreme Court (1) vacated the default judgment and remanded the matter for further proceedings to assess damages, holding that, under the circumstances here, a remand was necessary; and (2) vacated the amended judgment, holding that the superior court did not have jurisdiction to entertain a motion to amend the earlier default judgment, even to correct a clerical mistake, at the time the motion judge acted in 2012. View "Jones v. Boykan" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Creative Playthings Ltd., a Massachusetts corporation, entered into a franchising agreement with Defendant under which Defendant agreed to operate a Creative Playthings franchise store in Florida. Plaintiff later terminated its agreement with Defendant and commenced this action against Defendant in the U.S. district court for breach of contract and associated claims. Defendant filed several counterclaims against Creative. Creative moved for summary judgment on Defendant's counterclaims, asserting they were time barred under the limitations provision in the franchise agreement. The federal district court judge declined to decide Creative's motion and instead certified the question of whether contractually shortened statutes of limitations are generally enforceable under Massachusetts law. The Supreme Court answered by holding that, in a franchise agreement governed by Massachusetts law, a limitations period in the contract shortening the time within which claims must be brought is valid and enforceable under Massachusetts law if the claim arises under the contract and the agreed-upon limitations period is subject to negotiation by the parties, is not otherwise limited by controlling statute, is reasonable, is not a statute of repose, and is not contrary to public policy. View "Creative Playthings Franchising Corp. v. Reiser" on Justia Law