Articles Posted in Civil Procedure

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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

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At issue was the appropriate standards and procedures for requests by the Commonwealth and parties to a care and protection proceeding in the juvenile court for the release of impounded records of the proceeding. Here, Mother and Father were the subjects of a care and protection proceeding, the records from which were impounded, and the defendants in criminal child abuse cases. Father and the Commonwealth sought access to the impounded records in conjunction with the upcoming criminal trials. The Supreme Judicial Court held (1) where a party to a care and protection proceeding or the Commonwealth seeks access to impounded records of the proceeding, the requestor must demonstrate that the records should be released under the good cause standard of rule 7 of the Uniform Rules on Impoundment Procedure; and (2) if the good cause standard is met, records may be disclosed for limited, confidential review and use, but the discoverability of the records does not also make them admissible at a subsequent criminal proceeding. View "Care and Protection of M.C." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of a single justice of the court denying Petitioner’s petition seeking relief from the district court’s judgment in a summary process proceeding. Petitioner filed the petition pursuant to Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 211, 3, Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 249, 4 and Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 249, 5. Petitioner also challenged the Appellate Division’s judgment affirming the appeal bond ordered by the trial judge in the same summary process proceeding. In affirming the single justice’s denial of the petition, the Supreme Judicial Court held that Petitioner failed to carry his burden of showing that adequate alternative remedies were not available. View "Wallace v. PNC Bank, N.A." on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of a single justice of the court denying Petitioner’s petition pursuant to Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 211, 3. In her petition, Petitioner sought review of several interlocutory trial court orders in a civil lawsuit commenced by Respondent to collect on a superior court judgment. In affirming, the Supreme Judicial Court held that Petitioner failed to make a showing that review of the trial court’s decision could not adequately be obtained on appeal. The court then placed Petitioner on notice that any subsequent attempt to seek relief pursuant to a Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 211, 3 petition that suffers from similar deficiencies may result in restriction of future filings. View "Minkina v. Rodgers, Powers & Schwartz, LLP" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure

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Petitioner obtained a civil harassment prevention order against L.R. While L.R.’s appeal was pending, a series of events occurred in the superior court and Appeals Court. Here, the Supreme Judicial Court (1) affirmed the order of the single justice denying Petitioner’s petition filed pursuant to Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 211, 3 due to the availability of other remedies; and (2) with respect to Petitioner’s request for declaratory relief, remanded to the county court for entry of a judgment declaring that, because of the available appellate remedy, Petitioner’s action for declaratory relief could not be maintained. View "G.G. v. L.R." on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure

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In this case filed by a Massachusetts-based company (“LevelUp”) against a California-based company (“Punchh”), alleging defamation and related causes of action connected with Punchh’s allegedly false statements about LevelUp to LevelUp’s prospective clients, the superior court allowed Punchh’s motion to dismiss on the grounds that it would not comport with due process to hale Punchh into a Massachusetts court. The Supreme Judicial Court remanded this matter to the superior court for further proceedings, holding (1) prior to exercising personal jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant, a judge must determine that doing so comports with both the forum’s long-arm statute and the requirements of the United States Constitution; and (2) the requisite statutory analysis did not occur in this case. View "SCVNGR, Inc. v. Punchh, Inc." on Justia Law

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Under the circumstances of this legal malpractice action, a court’s error of law was a concurrent, not a superseding, proximate cause, and therefore, recovery was not barred to the plaintiff client even where the defendant attorney was negligent for failing to prevent or mitigate the legal error. Plaintiff brought suit against Defendant, its former law firm, alleging that Defendant was negligent in failing to provide a French appellate court with evidence that the court deemed necessary for Plaintiff to prevail on a claim, which the court denied. The superior court granted summary judgment to Defendant and denied partial summary judgment to Plaintiff, concluding (1) the French court committed an error of law in requiring this evidence, and (2) even if Defendant were negligent in failing to provide the evidence to the court, Plaintiff could not recover damages for Defendant’s negligence because the court’s legal error was a superseding cause of the adverse action. The Supreme Judicial Court reversed, holding that the trial judge erred in granting summary judgment to Defendant and denying partial summary judgment to Plaintiff. View "Kiribati Seafood Co., LLC v. Dechert LLP" on Justia Law