Justia Massachusetts Supreme Court Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Commercial Law
Williams v. American Honda Finance Corp.
At issue was how to calculate “fair market value” of a repossessed automobile under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 255B, 20 B and the notices that are required with respect to this calculation.Under section 20B, a creditor who repossesses and sells a vehicle is entitled to recover form the debt the deficiency that remains after deducting the “fair market value” of the vehicle from the debtor’s unpaid balance. Plaintiff in this case alleged that the fair market value of her repossessed automobile was the fair market retail value of the automobile, rather than the amount paid at an auction open to licensed dealers. The federal district court granted summary judgment to American Honda Finance Corporation (Honda). The court of appeals certified to the Supreme Judicial Court three questions. The Court answered (1) the ultimate determination of fair market value is left to the courts in contested cases, taking into account both creditor and debtor interests, and the means, methods, and markets used to sell the vehicle; and (2) the resale and postsale notices provided to the debtor must expressly describe the deficiency as the difference between the amount owed on the loan and the fair market value of the vehicle. View "Williams v. American Honda Finance Corp." on Justia Law
Limoliner, Inc. v. Dattco, Inc.
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
Reading Coop. Bank v. Constr. Co.
Construction Company contracted with Subcontractor for construction of elements of an HVAC system. As partial collateral for a revolving line of credit, Subcontractor assigned to Bank its right to receive payment under the contract with Construction Company. Construction Company instead made twelve payments to Subcontractor. Subcontractor subsequently ceased business operations, leaving an outstanding debt to Bank on its line of credit. Bank filed an action against Construction Company for breach of contract and violation of the UCC. A jury found (1) Construction Company liable on both counts for ten of the twelve checks that it had delivered to Subcontractor, and (2) Bank was estopped from recovering with respect to the final two checks. The judge entered judgment on the statutory claim in the amount of $3,015,000, the full face value of the ten checks. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding that the trial judge (1) properly entered judgment on Bank's statutory claim in the amount of the wrongfully midirected payments; but (2) erred in denying the bank's motion for partial judgment notwithstanding the verdict with respect to the final two checks, as there was insufficient evidence to support Construction Company's defense of estoppel. View "Reading Coop. Bank v. Constr. Co." on Justia Law
Premier Capital, LLC v. KMZ, Inc.
Premier Capital, LLC was in the business of debt acquisition, management, and collection. On July 3, 2007, Premier filed an action in the superior court alleging that it was the current holder of a sealed promissory note from Max Zeller Furs, Inc., executed on September 10, 1987, and that KMZ, Inc. was liable on the note as the successor in interest. The superior court granted summary judgment for KMZ on the ground that Premier's complaint was not timely filed under the six-year statute of limitations set forth in Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 106, 3-118. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) although the statute does apply to actions on a sealed promissory note, it only applies to causes of action accruing after its enactment in 1998; and (2) because Premier's cause of action accrued before the statute was enacted, and the note upon which Premier filed suit was executed under seal, Premier timely commenced its action against KMZ under the twenty-year statute of limitations governing actions on contracts under seal set forth in Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 260, 1. Remanded. View "Premier Capital, LLC v. KMZ, Inc." on Justia Law
Bank of New York v. Bailey
This case arose when plaintiff, Bank of New York (BNY), asserted that it acquired title to the home of defendant pursuant to foreclosure proceedings. At issue was whether the Housing Court had jurisdiction to decide the validity of a challenge to a title, raised by a former homeowner as a defense to a summary process eviction action by a party acquiring the property pursuant to a foreclosure sale. The court vacated the allowance of summary judgment and remanded for further proceedings because the court concluded that the Housing Court had jurisdiction to consider the validity of plaintiff's title as a defense to a summary process action after a foreclosure sale pursuant to G.L.c. 239, section 1. View "Bank of New York v. Bailey" on Justia Law