Articles Posted in Civil Procedure

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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

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At issue in this case was the construction of Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 156D, 14.30, the corporate dissolution statute, which allows a shareholder to petition a judge of the superior court to dissolve a corporation in the event of a deadlock between its directors. Plaintiff and Defendant were the sole shareholders and directors of a corporation. Plaintiff filed a petition pursuant to the corporate dissolution statute seeking to dissolve the corporation. After a jury-waived trial, Plaintiff also filed a separate claim for contempt of court. Defendant counterclaimed. A judge rejected all of Plaintiff’s claims and Defendant’s counterclaims. The Supreme Judicial Court remanded the matters, holding (1) the impasse as to fundamental matters of corporate governance and operations existing under these circumstances gave rise to a state of “true deadlock” such that the remedy of dissolution provided by the statute was allowable; (2) because dissolution is a discretionary remedy, the superior court must make a determination as to whether it is the appropriate remedy under the circumstances; and (3) the superior court must consider the allegations raised in the complaint for contempt concerning conduct that occurred after the trial. View "Koshy v. Sachdev" on Justia Law

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A mother may intervene both on her own behalf and on behalf of her children in an eviction action brought by a landlord against the mother’s husband and their young children where the mother has lived with her family in the apartment throughout the tenancy and alleges domestic violence in the home, despite her not being a named tenant on the lease. The mother in this case (Mother) appealed from the denial by a judge of the housing court of her motion to intervene in a summary process action brought by Landlord. Because Mother’s husband did not appear, the judge entered a judgment of default. The Supreme Court vacated both the denial of the motion to intervene and the judgment of default and remanded the case, holding (1) Mother was permitted to assert affirmative defenses to the eviction action on behalf of herself and her children; and (2) the motion judge prematurely reached the merits of the case. View "Beacon Residential Management, LP v. R.P." on Justia Law

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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

Posted in: Civil Procedure

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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