Articles Posted in Civil Procedure

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of a single justice denying Petitioners’ petition filed pursuant to Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 211, 3 asking the court to address the issue whether a trustee can appear “pro se” to represent a trust, holding that the single justice did not err or abuse his discretion in denying relief. Specifically, Petitioners asked the court to address the issue whether a “non-lawyer trustee” is “entitled” to “self-representation.” The single justice denied the petition without a hearing. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that this case did not present the type of exceptional circumstance that requires the exercise of this court’s extraordinary power of general superintendence pursuant to Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 211, 3. View "Eresian v. Scheffer" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of a single justice of the Court denying, without a hearing, Petitioner’s petition for extraordinary relief in the nature of mandamus, pursuant to Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 211, 3, holding that the single justice neither erred nor abused his discretion in denying the petition. In this case, one of several cases relating to Bahig Bishay’s eviction from his home, Bishay appealed from a final judgment. While that appeal was pending, Bishay and National Investigations, Inc. filed a joint petition pursuant to Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 211, 3 seeking, inter alia, an order requiring the superior court judge to incorporate an agreement into the final judgment. The single justice denied the petition. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that Petitioners failed to meet their burden of establishing that the normal appellate process was inadequate to provide a remedy. View "Bishay v. Superior Court Department" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed an order of a single justice of this Court dismissing without prejudice Petitioner’s petition pursuant to Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 211, 3 for failure to pay the filing fee or to file a proper affidavit of indigency, holding that the petition was now moot and that the single justice did not err in dismissing the petition. Petitioner filed her petition seeking review of an interlocutory ruling of the trial court denying her late request for a jury trial on a summary process action brought against her. The single justice denied the petition. Thereafter, Petitioner petitioned for review pursuant to Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 211, 3. The single justice dismissed the petition. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) the petition has become moot because the underlying case proceeded to a final judgment, and the eviction has occurred; (2) the single justice did not err in dismissing the petition for failure to execute a proper affidavit of indigency or infringe on Petitioner’s right of access to the courts in doing so; and (3) Petitioner was unable to demonstrate the unavailability of adequate alternative means of obtaining appellate review. View "Anderson v. Panagiotopoulos" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the county court denying Petitioners’ petition for relief under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 211, 3, holding that the single justice correctly denied extraordinary relief. Petitioners were the defendants in a summary process action commenced in the district court by a bank. A judge found for the bank, and the Appellate Division affirmed. While their application for further appellate review was pending, Petitioners filed this Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 211, 3 petition seeking relief from the district court’s denial of their motion to amend their answer to assert new defenses and counterclaims and to request a jury trial. A single justice denied relief on the ground that Petitioners had, and were pursuing, an avenue of relief in the ordinary appellate process. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that Petitioners’ claims could be and were raised in the ordinary appellate process. View "Costello v. Merrill Lynch Credit Corp." on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure

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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

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