March 2019 Archives

What Happens if Nothing is Happening in my Divorce Case?

Although it may be difficult to imagine for someone going through the difficult process of a divorce, on occasion divorce cases can linger for months, if not years, with little to no activity on the docket. The parties may have filed divorce papers, but never got around to following through with the divorce process. Or, the parties may have separated and then settled into new lives, never actually filing divorce papers or finalizing the divorce. The parties may have even reconciled. It is not unusual to have a client who has been separated for five, ten, sometimes fifteen years without having formalized his or her divorce.

Top Five Reasons to Include International Arbitration Provisions in Cross-Border Contracts

In our modern, globally interconnected world companies from different nations frequently enter into business agreements with one another. While such joint ventures can create exciting opportunities, they can also run into challenges, or sour altogether. Thus, it is important to consider dispute resolution mechanisms at the outset of a contract or joint venture between international partners. International arbitration is the dispute mechanism best suited to resolving cross-border disputes. As the following five reasons show, international arbitration should be selected as the dispute resolution method between international partners for virtually any international contract:

SJC Expands What Constitutes an Adverse Employment Action for Employment Discrimination

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (the "SJC") recently held that an employer's failure to approve a lateral transfer request of an employee can qualify as an adverse employment action in the context of employment discrimination.

What Qualifies As An Educational Use Under The Dover Amendment?

The Superior Court of Massachusetts recently annulled the decision of a local zoning board that had permitted construction of an outdoor aerial adventure park pursuant to what is commonly referred to as the "Dover Amendment" - i.e., G.L. c. 40A, § 3. In Sullivan v. Heritage Plantation of Sandwich, Inc., 35 Mass. L. Rptr. 281 (2018) ("Heritage Plantation"), the Court found that the particular outdoor adventure park at issue did not have a primary goal of educational significance and did not involve a nonprofit organization using its land for educational purposes, and, therefore, could not take advantage of the significant zoning exemptions offered by the Dover Amendment. 

Alimony based on "bonus income" is not available when income is determined to be payment for stock options

In a recent summary decision, a panel of the Massachusetts Appeals Court considered whether or not certain payments that a former husband received in addition to his base salary constituted "bonus income," of which husband would then be obligated to pay his former wife a percentage as alimony.  (See Dunbar v. Dunbar, 2019 WL 993330) (Pursuant to Rule 1:28).  

Handling your First International Arbitration

It was bound to happen eventually.  Maybe your company just went global or maybe they've been working internationally for years.  But eventually, whether through some mistake in translation in an international contract, some global or local change in circumstances, or just picking a poor foreign partner, a dispute has arisen over some international transaction.

SJC Approves Counsel's Fees In Settlement of Wage Act Claim

In a recently decided case, the Supreme Judicial Court held that two employees who asserted claims under the Massachusetts Wage Act, G.L. c. 149, §§148 and 150, were entitled to recover attorneys' fees from their former employer where the parties had entered into a private settlement agreement. In Ferman v. Sturgis Cleaners, Inc., the SJC held that the employees were entitled to an award of attorneys' fees where their lawsuit acted as a "necessary and important factor" in causing their former employer to "provide a material portion" of the relief they requested in the form of a private settlement.

Business Valuation in Divorce Cases

Business valuation arises in divorce cases where one or both spouses have an ownership interest in a closely held corporation - that is, a corporation which has a limited number of shareholders. This ownership interest is usually considered a marital asset, just like real property or a bank account, and is thus subject to equitable division in a divorce. Valuing a spouse's interest in this type of business can be a complex process due to the fact that there is no market on which a spouse could readily liquidate his or her shares. Accordingly, in many cases, the divorcing parties will retain a business valuator to determine the value of the spouse's ownership interest in the company.

First Circuit Court of Appeals Holds that Foreign Manufacturer Can Be Sued in Massachusetts

In an important decision for foreign companies, the First Circuit Court of Appeals recently reversed a trial court ruling and held that a foreign manufacturer of an allegedly defective product was subject to personal jurisdiction and could be sued in Massachusetts.  In Knox v. Metalforming, Inc., 914 F.3d 685 (1st Cir. 2019), plaintiff Stephen Knox badly injured his hand at his place of work, Cape Cod Copper, while operating a machine manufactured by German company Schechtl Maschinenbau GmbH and sold to Cape Cod Copper by MetalForming, Inc., Schechtl's Georgia-based exclusive U.S. distributor.  

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