Articles Posted in Massachusetts Supreme Court

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This case arose when plaintiff filed a complaint against her former employer, claiming that his failure to pay her a referral fee was a breach of contract and violated the Wage Act, G.L.c. 149, sections 148, 150. At issue was whether a 2008 amendment to the enforcement section of the Wage Act, providing for a mandatory award of treble damages to a prevailing employee, should be applied in an action brought by an employee against her employer for violation of the Wage Act before the amendment's effective date. The court held that the amendment should be read to apply only prospectively, to claims arising on or after the amendment's effective date of July 12, 2008. Therefore, because the Superior Court judge applied the amendment retrospectively, the court remanded for further proceedings.

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PCG Trading filed a complaint for legal malpractice and related claims against Seyfarth Shaw and four individual attorneys associated or formerly associated with the firm. At issue was whether a motion filed by PCG Trading for admission of an attorney pro hac vice was properly denied by a judge in the Superior Court. The court held that the order denying the motion to admit Robert L. Garner pro hac vice was reversed, and the case was remanded to the Superior Court for further proceedings.

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The Real Estate Bar Association of Massachusettes ("REBA") claimed that certain activities undertaken by the National Real Estate Information Services ("NREIS") constituted an unauthorized practice of law. At issue was whether NREIS's activities, either in whole or in part, based on the record and as described in the parties' filings, constituted the unauthorized practice of law in violation of Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 221, section 46 et seq. Also at issue was whether NREIS's activities, in contracting with Massachusetts attorneys to attend real estate closings, violated Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 221, section 46 et seq. The court held that certain of the real estate settlement activities undertaken by NREIS did not constitute the unauthorized practice of law but the court could not determine based on the record whether the other described settlement activities did. The court also held that the closing or settlement of the types of real estate transactions described in the record required not only the presence but the substantive participation of an attorney on behalf of the mortgage lender and that certain services connected with real property conveyances constituted the practice of law.