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Insight

Press Release
October 29, 2019

Meet the new BBA president: Sugarman Rogers’s managing partner Christine M. Netski

Published by the Boston Bar Association on October 25, 2019 (here). The importance of public service and academic excellence was instilled in Chris Netski at a young age while she was growing up in upstate New York. Both her parents were public educators and the first in their families to go to college. Her late father, a first-generation Polish-American who went to college under the G.I. Bill following service in World War II, understood the importance of equal opportunity and promoted diversity and inclusion throughout his career, including helping to lead the effort to integrate the public schools in their town in the late 1960s. Her parents’ commitment to their community and their positive influence on the lives of so many young people continue to inspire Netski today. “They inspired me to always be alert to how I might contribute to the betterment of our society, and they taught me…

Related Services: Employment Law, Business Disputes

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Ed Barshak – Honoring a lifelong leader

(This article originally appeared on the Boston Bar Association website. Reprinted here with permission.) The Boston Bar Association will honor Edward Barshak with its Lifetime Achievement Award on September 12 at the 2014 Annual Meeting Luncheon. A leader isn’t always the first one to speak up. A true leader exhibits command of speech so that when they do speak, their words carry weight. As we interviewed Boston’s most respected advocates and citizens for this profile, one phrase resonated among countless sound bites. “When Barshak speaks, everybody listens.” From Fitchburg’s Finest to One of Boston’s Best When he joined Mapplebeck, Alberts & Sugarman in 1957, Fitchburg native Edward J. Barshak had already carved out a reputation as one of Boston’s most promising trial attorneys. As the fifth attorney at what would later become Sugarman, Rogers, Barshak & Cohen, Ed set to work building what would soon become Boston’s top tier civil…

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Case Report
December 11, 2015

$700,000 medical malpractice settlement for 88-year-old woman rendered blind

Sugarman Rogers partner David A. Barry has obtained a $700,000 settlement for an 88-year-old woman who became blind as a result of her physician’s failure to promptly diagnose and treat her temporal arteritis, a blood-vessel inflammation that can lead to loss of vision if not promptly diagnosed and treated with steroids. The plaintiff was an 86-year-old woman whose medical history included blindness in her right eye resulting from an injury she had sustained as an infant. In September, 2012 the defendant, an internist who had been the plaintiff’s primary care physician for a number of years, diagnosed her with polymyalgia rheumatica, an inflammatory disease. The defendant testified that she subsequently questioned that diagnosis. On April 23, 2013 the plaintiff saw the defendant with a chief complaint of pain in her jaw with chewing (“jaw claudication”) and a sore throat. During the visit she was accompanied by her daughter, who testified…

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Remote Access for Employees

The firm offers a variety of access points for remote access to resources. The preferred methods are either using your firm-issued laptop, or the remote desktop service, as these provide a more complete remote working experience. Individual services are accessible directly as well, and links have been provided below. VPN (for laptop users) Remote Desktop (remote access to virtual desktop) https://remote.srbc.com Outlook Web Access (email) https://outlook.com/sugarmanrogers.com Mimecast Personal Portal (manage messages on hold and backup access to recent mail in the event of a Microsoft outage) https://webmail-us.mimecast.com/ NetDocuments (document management system) https://vault.netvoyage.com/ Rippe LMS+ (time & billing) https://sugarmanrogers.rippe.com/ iTimeKeep (time entry) https://services.bellefieldcloud.com/newdesktop/#/login Rippe LMSV (for admin/billing) https://lms.rippecloud.com/rdweb Nextpoint (litigation support/document review and productions) https://sugarman-rogers-barshak-cohen.nextpoint.com/login LoopUp (conference calls) https://account.loopup.com/

Insight

Legal Update
February 26, 2013

New FMLA Final Rule: Summary of changes and next steps for employers

On February 6, 2013, commemorating the 20th anniversary of the Family and Medical Leave Act ("FMLA"), the U.S. Department of Labor issued its Final Rule (the "2013 Regulations") on the FMLA. The 2013 Regulations become effective March 8, 2013. The 2013 Regulations incorporate -- and in some cases, expand -- the military leave amendments of 2008. Families of eligible veterans now have the same protections as families of active military service members. The definition of "serious injury or illness" now covers pre-existing conditions aggravated by military service. A new leave category, parental leave, has been added to the qualifying exigency leave. The period of leave to be granted for a service member's rest and recuperation has been extended from five to 15 days. In addition, private health care providers, not affiliated with the military healthcare system, are now authorized to issue FMLA certifications for military-related leave. Listed below is a…

Related Services: Employment Law

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Legal Update
March 7, 2016

Employment Law Alert: Bulwer v. Mount Auburn Hospital

In a decision published on February 29, 2016, Bulwer v. Mount Auburn Hospital (473 Mass 672), the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court clarified the evidentiary burden a plaintiff must meet to overcome a motion for summary judgment in an employment discrimination claim under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 151B, § 4. The Court held that where a reasonable jury could infer from evidence presented by a plaintiff that an employer's justification for terminating the plaintiff was false, the question of whether the given justification was a pretext for discrimination must be presented to a jury. The plaintiff in Bulwer, a black male from Belize who held a medical degree from a foreign medical school, practiced medicine outside the United States for thirteen years. Plaintiff came to Mr. Auburn Hospital to complete a residency program so that he could practice in the United States. The residency agreement was for a one-year term, renewable…

Related Services: Employment Law

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Case Report
December 11, 2015

$900,000 medical malpractice settlement for anesthesia death of 39-year-old woman

Sugarman Rogers partner David Barry has obtained a $900,000 settlement for the estate of a 39-year-old woman who died after undergoing surgery to remove uterine fibroids. The plaintiff’s decedent was a 39-year-old woman who suffered from hypertension, diabetes, moderate obesity and end-stage-renal disease for which she was on dialysis. On July 26, 2011 she underwent gynecological surgery to remove uterine fibroids, which was performed under general anesthesia. The defendants were the attending anesthesiologist and a first-year resident who assisted during the procedure. While the patient was under general anesthesia, her blood pressure dropped precipitously and remained at an abnormally low level for approximately 45 minutes. Immediately thereafter, the patient’s heart rate dropped to around 30 beats per minute and remained at that level for 15 minutes at which time her blood pressure and heart rate were finally restored. However, the patient never regained consciousness and remained in an irreversible coma…

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Employee Access

Citrix Remote Access https://remote.srbc.com You will need to download the Citrix client software before accessing the server. Clicking on this link should automatically detect your operating system and download the appropriate client for your computer: http://receiver.citrix.com **after installing on a MAC, click on this link to configure client settings: citrixreceiver://createprofile?pname=SRBC%20Citrix%20Applications&s=https%3A%2F%2Fremote.srbc.com&gw=0 Once you have the client software installed, point your browser to: https://remote.srbc.com If you have not installed the software prior to your first visit, you will be prompted to do so automatically. It is recommended you install the client from one of the above links prior to visiting the remote server. If you have installed the software, you will see a login screen. Simply enter your username and your network password. Once logged in, you may select individual applications to launch, or you may launch a desktop session. After you're done with your work, please make sure you log off…

Practice Area

Medical Malpractice

Our medical-malpractice team is highly skilled, trial-tested, and ready to assist you with every aspect of your claim, from initial investigation through final resolution. We have won trials and obtained settlements for our clients from doctors, hospitals, and other healthcare providers in actions involving a wide range of injuries. We devote personal attention to each client, and we understand the importance of keeping you informed and responding quickly to your questions and concerns. Our wide experience in this area includes cases of: Failure to timely diagnose and treat cancer and other medical conditions Mismanagement of maternal labor and delivery, including birth injuries Failure to perform adequate prenatal testing or monitoring Improper interpretation of x-rays, MRIs, and CT scans, and other mishandling of diagnostic procedures Anesthesia errors Medication errors by physicians and pharmacies Failure to obtain informed consent for medical procedures Negligent surgery and post-operative care Improper treatment by emergency-room medical…

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Legal Update
June 29, 2017

Massachusetts utilities seek contracts for offshore wind energy, but for when?

Even as the federal government under the current administration is doubling down on fossil fuels, the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU) has approved a plan submitted by the state’s utilities to begin soliciting the first round of long-term contracts for offshore wind energy, a process that will start with the issuance of a Request for Proposals on June 29, 2017. The DPU, however, rebuffed calls from some to set a deadline for commercial operation of the offshore wind farms under development sooner than January 1, 2027, which means that actual generation from those facilities – and the anticipated environmental benefits, including helping the state meet the greenhouse gas emission reduction requirements of the Global Warming Solutions Act – could be as much as a decade away. Under a law passed by the state legislature in 2016, the utilities must by June 2027 enter into long-term contracts to purchase at…

Related Services: Environmental & Energy Law

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Press Release
August 17, 2020

In Memoriam: Edward J. Barshak
May 21, 1924 – August 12, 2020

  The Boston legal community has lost one of its finest. Edward J. Barshak passed away peacefully on August 12, 2020, at age 96. For more than five decades as one of our founding partners, Ed was an icon of the trial bar and a fearless defender of civil rights. As a young lawyer, he courageously represented lawyers charged with engaging in communist activities during the McCarthy investigations and achieved the groundbreaking SJC ruling in Brown v. Commonwealth, 335 Mass. 476 (1957), recognizing a right to counsel for criminal defendants under the Massachusetts constitution – six years before the US Supreme Court’s decision in Gideon v. Wainwright. He later represented Mitchell Goodman in the now-famous federal prosecution against Dr. Benjamin Spock, Goodman, and three other co-defendants for advocating resistance to the Vietnam-War draft, culminating in the 1969 First Circuit decision vacating their convictions. In her book about the Spock trial,…

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Legal Update
September 5, 2018

SJC extends the protection of the statute of repose to violations of the home improvement contractor law asserted under Chapter 93A

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has ruled that claims for unfair and deceptive acts against contractors under the state’s consumer protection act–Chapter 93A–where they are premised on a breach of the home improvement contractor law–Chapter 142A–must be brought within six years of completion of the project. This six year window is absolute, even where a consumer has no reason to suspect any wrongdoing, or where the defects have been intentionally concealed. The rare split decision, Bridgwood v. A.J. Wood Construction, Inc., is a significant win for the construction industry. And it is the first time that the SJC has held that the six year “statute of repose” that limits common law construction defect claims for negligence and breach of the implied warranty of habitability also limits claims under Chapter 93A alleging violations of the home improvement contractor law. The decision, authored by Justice Cypher, was not unanimous. A dissent, by…

Related Services: Real Estate Litigation

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Legal Update
September 5, 2014

Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination issues annual report for 2013

The Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) recently issued its Annual Report for 2013 providing a useful window into the activities of the agency this past year. The report reflects that, as in past years, the Commission remains woefully understaffed in relation to its workload, resulting in long delays in processing cases. The Commission continues to be overwhelmed with new complaints, receiving more claims than it can resolve each year. In 2013 it received 3,224 new complaints. Consistent with the pattern in prior years, the vast majority (over 80%) of the new complaints concerned employment discrimination, with housing discrimination claims accounting for 11% of the filings. The total number of open cases at the investigative stage rose to almost five thousand (4,959), which translates to an average caseload of over 300 cases per investigator. In 2013 each investigator was assigned approximately 180 new cases yet, on average, they each closed only 108 cases during the year. The…

Related Services: Employment Law

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Legal Update
August 14, 2018

New Massachusetts non-compete law: Five things every employer should know

Massachusetts’ new non-compete statute represents a substantial shift in the enforceability of restrictive covenants in this state. Employers that utilize these types of agreements will be well-served to closely examine their existing agreements and, in the weeks ahead, make the necessary revisions to ensure their new agreements will comply with all upcoming changes to the law. Moreover, given the many areas of uncertainty in the new statute, employers should consult knowledgeable counsel to identify potential problem areas, minimize exposure, and safeguard company information and goodwill.

Related Services: Employment Law

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Legal Update
July 18, 2017

Employee fired for medical marijuana use can sue employer for discrimination

An employee who was terminated as a result of her lawful medical use of marijuana has the right to sue her former employer for handicap discrimination under Massachusetts law, the state Supreme Judicial Court has ruled. In the decision, Barbuto v. Advance Sales and Marketing, the court held that while the Massachusetts statute legalizing medical marijuana does not authorize private lawsuits to enforce the right to use the drug, prescribed marijuana users who suffer adverse employment actions as a result of their use of the drug can file suit under the state’s antidiscrimination law, Massachusetts General Laws chapter 151B. The plaintiff, Cristina Barbuto, had a valid prescription to use marijuana as treatment for her Crohn’s disease. When Barbuto was hired to an entry-level position by Advance Sales and Marketing (ASM) and told that she would have to take a drug test, Barbuto explained to her supervisor that she would test…

Related Services: Employment Law

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Legal Update
January 29, 2018

Massachusetts high court clarifies scope and time limit for property owner’s “residual damage” claim under hazardous material cleanup law

When does the three-year statute of limitations begin to run, under the Massachusetts hazardous waste cleanup statute, for a property owner’s claim for property damage that is not resolved by a cleanup? A January 19 decision of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court announced an important clarification of the answer. Under General Laws Chapter 21E, the clock on such claims does not begin to run when the owner first learns that her property has been contaminated, but only when the owner learns that the damage is permanent and cannot be reasonably remediated, and also knows (or should have discovered) the identity of the party responsible for the contamination. The decision, in Grand Manor Condominium Association v. City of Lowell, revived a condominium’s property-damage claim against the city of Lowell for contamination from a city-operated landfill, for damage caused decades before the condominium’s construction. Chapter 21E Chapter 21E identifies five categories of…

Insight

Press Release
April 3, 2020

BBA president Christine Netski appoints COVID-19 crisis response working group

BBA News Release, April 2, 2020 The COVID-19 pandemic is presenting emergency legal issues (some foreseeable, others less so) that go to the heart of the BBA’s mission. For as long as this crisis persists, the Association will need a high-level Crisis Response Working Group to identify, consider and monitor emerging issues, and make recommendations as to appropriate BBA policy decisions, statements and actions. Last week, BBA President Chris Netski appointed members of the group, including President-Elect Marty Murphy as Chair. These members bring forth a diversity of expertise, which will allow them to have comprehensive discussions on the breadth of issues that have come up as a result of the pandemic. The group has met twice so far and has broken itself down into the following subcommittees, which are considering the following issues: Civil Access to Justice The Working Group is concerned about preserving litigants' access to justice at…

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Legal Update
April 2, 2020

Department of Labor publishes additional guidance on the Families First Coronavirus Response Act

With the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”) effective on April 1, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) has issued a new round of guidance on the FFCRA in the form of FFCRA Q&A. DOL’s Updated FFCRA Q&A The DOL’s previously published FFCRA guidance was discussed by Sugarman Rogers here.  The updated FFCRA: Questions and Answers address a wide range of new issues.  Below are a few of the key takeaways: Intermittent Leave for Teleworking Employees is Allowed: Teleworking employees unable to work their normal schedule of work hours due to one of the qualifying reasons in the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act may take paid sick leave intermittently if the employer and employee agree.   Similarly, if a teleworking employee needs to care for a child whose school or place of care is closed, or child care provider is unavailable, because of COVID-19 related reasons, the employee may take…

Related Services: Employment Law

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Legal Update
October 5, 2017

SJC takes broad view of constitutional protection of public parklands

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court this week significantly expanded state constitutional protection for parks and other open public spaces. In doing so, the court came down on the side of conservationists in a common dispute with public officials over potential use of municipal land for public improvements, including roads and schools, but also including other newer uses of municipal open space, such as for wind turbines and solar arrays. The SJC ruled, in Smith v. City of Westfield, that the defendant city could not, without a super-majority vote of the state legislature, build an elementary school on city land that had long been used as a public park, even though no written restriction was ever recorded designating the land for protection under Article 97 of the Massachusetts constitution, the state’s “Environmental Bill of Rights.” Reversing a decision of the Appeals Court, the SJC held that no such recording in the…

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Legal Update
February 15, 2012

Supreme Judicial Court awards $22.6 million in punitive damages for insurer’s settlement delays

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has once again emphasized the high stakes, under the state’s consumer-protection statute, for an insurer who delays in settling a clear-liability case and allows the matter to go to trial. In its February 10, 2012 decision in Rhodes v. AIG Domestic Claims, Inc., the Court awarded $22.6 million in punitive damages—plus attorneys’ fees, on top of the $11.8 million already recovered by the plaintiffs—against an insurance claims service, AIGDC,1 for unfairly and willfully delaying settlement of a clear-liability automobile-accident case. The Court applied language of the Massachusetts consumer-protection statute, Chapter 93A, and made the $22.6 million award despite acknowledging that the figure bore no relationship to any identifiable harm caused by AIGDC’s settlement delay. The case arose from a 2002 accident in which a tractor-trailer rear-ended a car driven by 46-year-old Marcia Rhodes, who had been stopped by a police officer directing traffic around a…

Related Services: Insurance & Reinsurance

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Legal Update
May 19, 2016

New federal labor rule on overtime for executives and other “white collar” employees

On May 18, 2016, the U.S. Department of Labor ("DOL") released its highly anticipated Final Rule Defining and Delimiting the Exemptions for Executive, Administrative, Professional, Outside Sales and Computer Employees (the "Final Rule"). The Final Rule extends overtime pay eligibility to millions of workers by raising the thresholds required to satisfy "white collar exemptions" to the overtime pay protections of the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"). The Final Rule becomes effective December 1, 2016. Key Provisions of the Final Rule The Standard Salary Threshold will increase to $47,476 per year ($913 per week). The new salary level, below which a worker is automatically entitled to overtime pay for hours worked over 40 per week, is more than double the current level of $23,660 per year ($455 per week). It represents the 40th percentile of full-time salaried workers in the nation's lowest income Census region (currently the South). Up to 10% of the Standard Salary…

Related Services: Employment Law

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Press Release
May 1, 2016

100% of Sugarman Rogers female partners named “Top Women Attorneys in Massachusetts”

Sugarman, Rogers, Barshak & Cohen is proud to announce that all of their female partners have been named "Top Women Attorneys in Massachusetts" by Super Lawyers and were featured in the April issue of Boston magazine. Lisa C. Goodheart and Christine M. Netski both made the "Top 50 Women Attorneys in Massachusetts" list; Goodheart for her work in Environmental Litigation, and Netski for her work in Business Litigation. In addition, managing partner Regina E. Roman was recognized for her work in Insurance Coverage, along with Susan A. Hartnett. Alisa L. Hacker was featured for her work in Family Law, and Andrea Studley Knowles made the list for her work in Product Liability Defense. "We are so proud of this accomplished group. Their recognition further validates our long tradition at Sugarman Rogers of recruiting, hiring, promoting and supporting first-rate women lawyers," said William L. Boesch a partner and member of Sugarman…

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Legal Update
March 26, 2020

Department of Labor issues new COVID-19 guidance for employers

On March 25, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) issued new guidance for employers regarding paid leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”).  While we await the DOL regulations called for under the FFCRA, this guidance provides initial answers for employers trying to adjust to new obligations in the time of COVID-19. Non-Enforcement Period under the FFCRA: In its Field Assistance Bulletin No. 2020-21, the DOL announced it will not bring enforcement actions against any public or private employer for violations of the Act occurring within 30 days of the enactment of the FFCRA, i.e., March 18 through April 17, 2020, provided that the employer has made reasonable, good faith efforts to comply with the Act.  The DOL will deem an employer to have acted “reasonably” and in “good faith” when: The employer remedies any violation, including by making all affected employees whole as soon as possible.…

Related Services: Employment Law

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Legal Update
June 4, 2018

Minority LLC member is entitled to equitable remedies for majority member’s breach of fiduciary duties in freeze-out merger

Majority members of a limited liability company cannot rely upon the “exclusive remedy” provision in the Massachusetts Limited Liability Company statute (M.G.L. c. 156C) to prevent minority members from recovering certain equitable remedies in cases where the majority has breached its fiduciary duties to accomplish a merger that the minority opposed, according to the Supreme Judicial Court’s recent decision in W. Robert Allison v. Elof Eriksson. Indeed, the SJC held that trial courts have discretion to fashion equitable relief for minority LLC members wrongfully “frozen out” by majority members seeking to consolidate their control through mergers. Such relief may include rescission of the merger or, more commonly, modification of the new entity’s operating agreement to provide greater minority member protections. Here, Robert Allison and Elof Eriksson were the founders and sole members of Applied Tissue Technologies (ATT-MA), a Massachusetts LLC. Eriksson controlled roughly 75% of the company and Allison controlled…

Related Services: Business Disputes

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Publication
October 11, 2017

The intersection of environmental justice and climate change

This piece was originally published in the blog of the American College of Environmental Lawyers, here. Media images of the recent devastation from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma provide vivid illustration of the direct link between climate change and environmental justice (“EJ”) concerns.  For those who live in the path of tropical storms, the impacts of severe storm damage often have a disproportionately harsh effect upon low-income, minority, non-native English-speaking communities.  Members of these communities are often the least able to get out of harm’s way and find temporary living accommodations in a safer place.  They tend to live in sub-standard housing stock that is the least able to withstand the impacts of storm surges and extreme wind forces.  Frequently, their homes are disproportionately located in close proximity to clusters of known environmental hazards such as Superfund sites, hazardous waste TSDFs, chemical and power plants, other locally undesirable land uses (“LULUs”),…

Related Services: Environmental & Energy Law

Event

The Past, Present and Future of Business Insurance and Employee Benefits

Sugarman Rogers partner John O'Neill will present as part of the BankProv September 24, 2020 webinar, "The Past, Present and Future of Business Insurance and Employee Benefits." John will be joined by Lucy MacCallum of NFP Employee Benefits, Marc Mingolelli of HUB International New England, and moderator Kevin Barton of BankProv. The panel will discuss potential COVID-related claims that may confront businesses in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic and whether insurance will respond to those claims. Click here to register.

September 24, 2020
12:00 PM

Insight

Legal Update
April 11, 2018

Client who lost lawsuit after misleading buyers of plumbing business had valid malpractice claim against overconfident lawyers

A Massachusetts Superior Court judge has refused to dismiss a legal-malpractice claim against two lawyers who unsuccessfully defended a lawsuit arising from the sale of a plumbing business. In that suit, having turned down a pre-trial settlement for $700,000, the client was forced to settle after trial by paying $1.6 million. While the client’s unhappiness with that result (after having spent $600,000 in legal fees) is hardly surprising, the decision that the malpractice case should continue is difficult to reconcile with governing law on the limits of a litigation lawyer’s duties in counseling about litigation risks. The case, Donarumo v. Phillips, began with client Andrew Donarumo’s sale of his plumbing business to Michael and JoAnn Furlong for $1,000,000. In discussions leading up to the sale, Donarumo told the Furlongs, who had limited relevant business experience, that the plumbing company was in good health and could be run by its remaining…

Related Services: Professional Liability

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Legal Update
June 10, 2016

Supreme Judicial Court: an employee’s “self-help discovery” may be protected

On May 31, 2016, in a case of first impression, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ("SJC") ruled in Verdrager v. Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky & Popeo, P.C., et al. (474 Mass. 382) that an employee who accesses and copies confidential company documents and shares those documents with an attorney as potential evidence in support of a discrimination claim may be deemed to have engaged in "protected activity" under G.L. c. 151B. Case Summary Verdrager, a female attorney, was employed by Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky & Popeo, P.C., as an associate from June 2004 to November 2008. Shortly after Verdrager was hired, she reported to the firm’s management that a male partner had made inappropriate comments to her. Verdrager received mixed performance reviews until she took a parental leave in 2006. Several months after returning from leave, Verdrager received a negative review and was then asked to take a two-year…

Related Services: Employment Law
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