Justia Massachusetts Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Professional Malpractice & Ethics
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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of a single justice of the court affirming the decision and order of the Board of Registration in Medicine suspending Petitioner's license to practice medicine, holding that the Board's decision was supported by the evidence and was not legally erroneous, procedurally defective, or arbitrary or capricious.A magistrate concluded that Petitioner was subject to discipline by the Board because his disruptive behavior on two separate occasions amounted to misconduct and demonstrated that Petitioner engaged in conduct that undermined the public confidence in the integrity of the medical profession. The Board adopted the findings and conclusions of the magistrate and concluded that Petitioner's actions warranted an indefinite suspension of his license to practice medicine. The single justice affirmed. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) the Board's decision was supported by the evidence, and (2) Petitioner failed to demonstrate that the decision was legally erroneous, procedurally defective, or arbitrary and capricious. View "Schwartz v. Board of Registration in Medicine" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the decision of the Board of Registration suspending Physician's license to practice medicine on the basis that Physician violated 243 Code Mass. Regs. 2.07(11)(a)(1), holding that the Board's findings that Physician violated the Board's regulations were supported by substantial evidence and that the decision was not arbitrary or capricious.The Board initiated a formal adjudicatory proceeding against Physician, after which a magistrate found that Physician had violated 243 Code Mass. Regs. 2.07(11)(a), which prohibits advertising that is false, deceptive, or misleading, and also violated 243 Code Mass. Regs. 1.03(5)(a)(10). The Board adopted the magistrate's findings of fact and conclusions of law and issued an indefinite suspension of Physician's license to practice medicine. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) the Board's regulations do not offend due process; (2) the Board's findings were supported by substantial evidence; and (3) neither the findings nor the sanction imposed were arbitrary or capricious. View "Welter v. Bd. of Registration in Medicine" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the single justice of the court affirming a decision of the Board of Registration in Podiatry that revoked Thomas Franchini's license to practice podiatry in Massachusetts, holding that the Board's decision was not arbitrary or capricious, was supported by substantial evidence, and did not suffer from any other defect enumerated under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 30A, 14(7).A hearings officer found that Franchini knowingly made certain false and misleading statements in his licensure application and recommended that the Board impose disciplinary sanctions. The Board largely adopted the hearing officer's decision, finding that Franchini engaged in gross misconduct such as to call into question Franchini's ability to practice podiatry, dishonesty, fraud, or deceit, and knowingly making false statements in his application to the Board. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that Franchini should be subject to disciplinary sanctions. View "Franchini v. Bd. of Registration in Podiatry" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the single justice of the court affirming the decision of the Board of Registration in Medicine revoking Joseph Knight's inchoate right to renew his medical license, holding that the Board's decision was amply supported by the evidence and that Knight failed to demonstrate prejudice from any alleged legal or procedural defect.During his career as a physician, Knight was licensed to practice medicine in multiple jurisdictions in the United States. After receiving complaints about his prescription practices, Knight applied for a second renewal of his Massachusetts license. On his application, Knight admitted that he had been the subject of a disciplinary action but denied other allegations. The Board then issued a statement of allegations against Knight, and the disciplinary proceedings proceeded. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that there was no doubt that the Board was justified in reach the result it did. View "Knight v. Board of Registration in Medicine" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court held that the board of registration in medicine may use a sealed criminal record as a basis for discipline but that the board is statutorily prohibited from making the contents of that record available to the public.Petitioner, a physician licensed by the board, was arrested and charged with a misdemeanor count of engaging in sexual conduct for a fee. After the board informed Petitioner that he was under investigation the court dismissed Petitioner's criminal case and Petitioner filed an application to renew his medical license. Thereafter, pursuant to Petitioner's request, a judge in the district court ordered Petitioner's criminal record sealed under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 276, 100C. Petitioner notified the board of the sealing order and requested that his disciplinary matter be closed. When the board declined to close the matter Petitioner filed an emergency petition for writ of certiorari. The Supreme Judicial Court held that section 100C does not prohibit the board from using a record sealed under the section in its disciplinary proceedings, but it does prohibit the board from publicly disclosing any information gleaned directly from a record sealed under section 100C. View "Doe v. Board of Registration in Medicine" on Justia Law

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In this civil case, the Supreme Court held that, for purposes of measuring fault under the doctrine of in pari delicto, only the conduct of senior management is imputed to the plaintiff organization.Plaintiff in this case was a college acting through its agents. At issue was whether courts in this case should follow the traditional principles of agency law and impute the wrongdoing of those agents to Plaintiff when determining whether it should be barred from recovery under the in pari delicto doctrine. The trial judge granted summary judgment to Defendant under the doctrine of in pari delicto after imputing to Plaintiff the wrongdoing of an employee who was not a member of senior management. The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the summary judgment order, holding that where summary judgment was granted to Defendant on the sole ground that Plaintiff’s claims were barred under the in pari delicto doctrine, the case must be remanded for consideration of Defendant’s other grounds for summary judgment. View "Merrimack College v. KPMG LLP" 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

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of a single justice of the county court dismissing Petitioner’s petition for relief in the nature of certiorari pursuant to Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 249, 4. After Petitioner, a medical doctor, was terminated from his position, the Board of Registration in Medicine (board) commenced disciplinary proceedings against him. The board referred the matter to the Division of Administrative Law Appeals. Following an evidentiary hearing, a magistrate issued his recommended decision. Petitioner filed a complaint in the nature of petition for a writ of certiorari arguing, inter alia, that his due process rights had been violated during the course of the board proceedings. The single justice dismissed the petition without a hearing. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that the single justice did not err or otherwise abuse his discretion in dismissing the petition. View "Padmanabhan v. Board of Registration in Medicine" on Justia Law

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Luis Alicea pleaded guilty to a firearm offense and was sentenced to three and one-half years' incarceration. Alicea later filed suit in federal court against his former defense counsel, Lawrence McGuire, alleging that McGuire's conduct resulted in Alicea's serving an illegal sentence. The district court judge granted summary judgment for McGuire. While the federal case was pending, Alicea filed an action in the superior court against the Commonwealth as McGuire's employer, asserting claims of malpractice and negligent infliction of emotional distress. Alicea's claims were premised on the allegation that McGuire had caused Alicea to serve an illegal sentence. The superior court granted summary judgment for the Commonwealth, concluding that the judgment entered in the federal action precluded Alicea from litigating the issue of his purported illegal sentence. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that because the central issue of Alicea's claims in the superior court was decided in the federal action, application of the doctrine of issue preclusion prevented Alicea from relitigating the issue. View "Alicea v. Commonwealth" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff retained Law Firm and its attorneys (collectively, Law Firm) to accomplish Plaintiff's foreclosure on a mortgage to certain property. A year after the foreclosure sale, while Law Firm was representing Plaintiff in negotiations for the sale of the foreclosed property, another law firm retained by Plaintiff sent a notice of claim to Law Firm alleging that Law Firm breached its obligations to Plaintiff by failing to inform Plaintiff of outstanding liens on the foreclosed property. After Law Firm concluded its representation of Plaintiff, Plaintiff filed an action against Law Firm, alleging, inter alia, legal malpractice and negligent misrepresentation. Law Firm moved for a protective order to preserve, among other things, the confidentiality of allegedly privileged communications to Law Firm's in-house counsel regarding Law Firm's reply to the notice of claim. The judge allowed the motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the judge correctly allowed Law Firm to invoke the attorney-client privilege to preserve the confidentiality of the communications. View "RFF Family P'ship v. Burns & Levinson, LLP" on Justia Law