Fitch Law Partners LLP
Excellence in Complex Litigation

Family Business Disputes

Virtual Tort, Actual Personal Jurisdiction

As a society, we continue to realize the potential for on-line conduct to have real-world ramifications - something the Middlesex Superior Court further illustrated recently in the context of personal jurisdiction - in the first such opportunity for a Massachusetts trial court to do so. In Taylor v. Taylor, MICV2012-01222, 2013 WL 5988569 (Mass. Super. Ct. 2013), a Massachusetts couple ("Plaintiffs"), alleged their daughter-in-law ("Defendant"), who lives in Florida, engaged in a coordinated campaign to defame them and harm their Massachusetts-based real estate business after she lost a series of motions in divorce proceedings against the Plaintiffs' son in Florida. In their Complaint, the Plaintiffs claimed that Defendant, with the help of a private investigator (also a defendant, with his corporation), made a series of identical on-line postings on consumer websites, purportedly written by a disgruntled former employee and warning potential Massachusetts real estate customers to "[a]void [the Plaintiffs' real estate company] at all costs unless you want to fall victim to another couple [J]ewish scammers." According to the Complaint, these postings further claimed that Plaintiffs both take advantage of their employees and "perpetuate the brainwashing of thousands of innocent, hard working people."

Property Owned in Family Trusts - A Recipe for Conflict

When parents or grandparents are able to pass down residential property or a family business to their children and grandchildren, it should be a piece of the American Dream come true.  And, with foresight, good planning and a little bit of luck, it can be.  Too often, however, these "gifts" can devolve into situations that tear extended families apart.  It often doesn't take long before family members start to treat each other unfairly and eventually become openly hostile towards each other.

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