Bennett & Belfort P.C.
The B&B Docket Blog
Developments in the Dynamic World
of Business and Employment Law

Archive for the ‘Firm News’ Category

Four Bennett & Belfort P.C. Attorneys Selected 2015 Super Lawyers

Posted on: October 30th, 2015 by admin

SuperLawyers

We are proud to announce that Thomas Reuters / Super Lawyers has again listed Bennett & Belfort P.C. partners Todd J. Bennett, David E. Belfort, Michael L. Mason (Rising Star) and Eric R. LeBlanc (Rising Star) among the 2015 New England Super Lawyers.

Mr. Bennett and Mr. Belfort were selected “Top 100 Lawyers in New England” for a second consecutive year. Attorney Bennett has been named a Super Lawyer for the past five years in the area of Business Litigation while Mr. Belfort has been selected a top Lawyer in the area of Employment Litigation: Plaintiff for the last decade. Mr. Mason and Mr. LeBlanc are once again Rising Stars in the areas of Employment and Labor and Business Litigation, respectively.

Super Lawyers rates lawyers in more than 70 practice areas. They evaluate attorneys who have attained a high-degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The selection process includes independent research, peer nominations and peer evaluations. While up to 5 percent of the lawyers in a state are named to Super Lawyers, no more than 2.5 percent are named to Rising Stars.

Bennett & Belfort P.C. concentrates its practice in business and commercial litigation and employment law and litigation.

Attorneys Belfort and Amundson Present at Hobart and William Smith Colleges Networking Event

Posted on: June 26th, 2015 by admin

HWS Dave & SarahOn June 17, 2015, Bennett & Belfort partner, David E. Belfort and associate, Sarah E. Amundson, co-lectured a presentation entitled “Employment Law:  Primer and Pitfalls” for their alma mater Hobart and William Smith Colleges‘ Professional Networking Group. The discussion constituted a broad introduction to Massachusetts employment law and covered topics such as at-will employment, employee privacy, and the Wage Act.  The event was held at the offices of Moors & Cabot at 200 Devonshire Street, Boston. 

HWS

Belfort Speaks on Employment Issues at Seminar for Attorneys Starting Law Firms

Posted on: June 3rd, 2015 by admin

MBA

Bennett & Belfort, P.C. partner David E. Belfort served as invited faculty for the May 29, 2015 Massachusetts Bar Association legal education conference How to Start and Run a Successful Solo or Small Firm Practice.  Mr. Belfort focused his presentation on practical employment law tips for those forming new law firms.  He discussed employment law basics in the context of Massachusetts law governing personnel management, employment policies (including sexual harassment and privacy), hiring, firing and traps for the unwary.

TODD BENNETT CO-PRESENTS AT MASSACHUSETTS BAR ASSOCIATION LEGAL LUNCH SERIES ON TAKING AND DEFENDING DEPOSITIONS

Posted on: February 2nd, 2015 by admin

Deposition Up CloseOn Wednesday, January 21, 2015,  Partner, Todd J. Bennett, joined colleague Scott Heidorn of Bergstresser & Pollock P.C., to speak about taking and defending depositions for the Massachusetts Bar Association’s “Feed Your Mind: Legal Lunch Series.”  The monthly lunch series, hosted by the Massachusetts Bar Association’s Civil Litigation Section and Young Lawyers Division, provides civil litigators of all experience levels with an opportunity to discuss selected areas of law and exchange ideas in a collegial setting.  Attorney Bennett and Attorney Heidorn co-led a lively, informative conversation on such topics as the rules on taking and defending depositions; how to prepare deposition questions;  the proper ways to put forth objections and respond to improper objections from opposing counsel; and the merits of different styles of questioning.

 

Bennett & Belfort Welcomes Attorney Sarah Amundson to the Firm!

Posted on: December 11th, 2014 by admin

Amundson Ceremony 4Bennett & Belfort P.C. is pleased to announce the addition of Attorney Sarah Amundson to the firm!  Attorney Amundson was officially sworn in, and signed the register of attorneys, on November 19, 2014 at Historic Faneuil Hall.  The ceremony was conducted by Maura S. Doyle, Clerk of the Supreme Judicial Court and presided over by SJC Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants.  This was the first swearing in ceremony administered by Chief Justice Gants since his appointment in July, 2014.

Attorney Amundson is a recent graduate of Boston College School of Law where she focused on employment law and litigation.  Prior to joining Bennett & Belfort P.C., Attorney Amundson interned with the Massachusetts Attorney General in the Trial Division, assisting with employment litigation, including discrimination matters and contract disputes.  Attorney Amundson also worked in the Massachusetts State Senate in the Office of Senate Counsel where she focused on compliance with federal laws, constitutional law, and municipal charter revision.

Currently, Attorney Amundson practice focuses on employment and business law, civil litigation and landlord/tenant disputes.

Bennett & Belfort, P.C. Attorneys Secure Verdict of Nearly $500,000 in Superior Court Business Litigation dispute.

Posted on: November 20th, 2014 by admin

Attorneys Eric LeBlanc and Todd Bennett recently secured a verdict of nearly $500,000 in a business litigation dispute involving shareholders of a closely held corporation. The Bennett & Belfort, P.C. trial team represented Peter Trowt and Beverly Storage & Trailer Leasing, Inc. As outlined in an 18 page written opinion, the Hon. Justice Cornetta rendered a verdict in favor of both Mr. Trowt and Beverly Storage & Trailer Leasing, Inc. on all counts.

This complex business litigation matter involved claims of breach of fiduciary duty and a shareholder derivative action. In addition to their success on all affirmative counts, the court issued judgment for Mr. Trowt and Beverly Storage & Trailer Leasing, Inc. on all counterclaims and third party claims brought against them by shareholder, Richard Silva. Trowt v. Silva, et al. (Lawyers Weekly No. 12-119-14) (18 pages) (Cornetta, J.) (Essex Superior Court) (Civil Action No. 2011-01279) (Oct. 31, 2014). 

Attorneys LeBlanc and Bennett successfully prosecuted individual claims on behalf of Mr. Trowt against Mr. Silva, for breach of fiduciary duty through the introduction of evidence of self-dealing, diversion of corporate opportunity and personal use of corporate resources by Mr. Silva. Bennett and Belfort, P.C. also prevailed on behalf of the shareholder derivative action on behalf of the corporate entity, Beverly Storage& Trailer Leasing, Inc. The Court not only found that Mr. Silva flagrantly violated his fiduciary duties to Mr. Trowt, but also that Mr. Silva improperly siphoned money out of Beverly Storage& Trailer Leasing, Inc., depriving the corporation of capital without a legitimate business purpose.

You can read more about the case in the latest edition of Lawyer’s Weekly.

FOUR BENNETT & BELFORT ATTORNEYS SELECTED AS “SUPERLAWYERS,” AND DAVID BELFORT AND TODD BENNETT WERE SELECTED AS “TOP 100 LAWYERS IN NEW ENGLAND”

Posted on: October 22nd, 2014 by admin

SL-

Bennett & Belfort, P.C. is proud to announce that four of its members were selected as “Super Lawyers” by their peers.

Additionally, partners, David E. Belfort and Todd J. Bennett, were selected as two of 2014’s Top 100 lawyers in New England.

Bennett & Belfort, P.C. attorneys that were selected as 2014 Super lawyers are:

Congratulations to Attorneys Belfort, Bennett, LeBlanc and Mason.

PARTNER, TODD BENNETT, AND ASSOCIATE, SARAH AMUNDSON, QUOTED ON BOSTON.COM

Posted on: September 24th, 2014 by admin

On September 24, 2014, Partner, Todd Bennett, Esq., and Associate, Sarah Amundson, were quoted on Boston.com.  The article entitled, “Should I be Paid if I’m On-Call?” was written by Elaine Varelas, of Keystone Partners, who is a regular contributor to the “Job Doc” section of Boston.com. 

“Should I be Paid if I’m On-Call?” discusses the test for determining whether an employer must pay a non-exempt employee for being on-call.  As with many aspects of the law, the application of this two part test can depend on many different factors.  Failing to pay minimum wage and/or overtime wages can lead to a host of problems for employers, including the potential of facing a civil enforcement action by the Attorney General of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts or the Department of Labor, and an individual lawsuit or class action lawsuit seeking multiple damages and attorneys’ fees.

When it Comes to Disability Accommodations, Employers Can’t Just Talk the Talk

Posted on: September 22nd, 2014 by admin

WPWe are pleased to announce that Bennett & Belfort, P.C. Attorney Michael L. Mason recently defeated a motion for summary judgment on behalf of a disabled employee seeking the accommodation of a ramp up period when returning from a medical leave of absence.

In Cronin v. Chubb Group of Insurance Companies, a case alleging disability discrimination in the workplace, the Federal court found that there were sufficient material facts in dispute to permit a jury to consider the case.  The plaintiff  claims that his employer denied him a reasonable accommodation and terminated him due to his disability.  After taking a medical leave, Cronin requested to return to work with accommodations including a ‘ramp up’ period to return to a full workload over a short period to acclimate to the job. The Defendant employer filed a motion for summary judgment, asking the Court to dismiss the case.  Defendant argued that the requested ‘ramp up’ period was not reasonable and that it engaged in sufficient discussions with the Plaintiff to meet its obligations to engage in an interactive dialogue.  The Judge found that the case could go to trial, as there was sufficient evidence of bias against the Plaintiff and the company could have provided the modest accommodations that were requested.

This decision is significant because it reinforces the fact that a limited ramp up period can indeed amount to a reasonable accommodation.  In addition, this case highlights the strict requirements of disability accommodation laws.  It is not enough for an employer to merely engage in a perfunctory dialogue with an employee who requests disability accommodations.  Under state and federal law, employers must evaluate accommodation requests in good faith, and they are required to provide accommodations that are reasonable and not unduly burdensome to the employer.

In this case, there was adequate evidence that the employer merely went through the motions in discussing Plaintiff’s requested workplace adjustments.  As such the Court will allow a jury to consider whether the company was justified in rejecting Plaintiff’s request for a limited ramp up period, which led to his separation of employment.

This case illustrates the need for employees and employers to make a concerted effort to evaluate and discuss, in good faith, disability accommodations before reaching a final decision.  Employer’s that simply go through the motions in the interactive dialogue when employees make requests for workplace accommodations do so at their peril.

COURT FINDS THAT AN ELECTRONICALLY SIGNED AGREEMENT PERFECTS A MECHANIC’S LIEN

Posted on: August 29th, 2014 by admin

ABC In a case that modernizes the Massachusetts mechanics’ lien statute, M.G.L. c. 254 et seq., Bennett & Belfort Attorney Eric LeBlanc successfully argued that electronic signatures satisfy the mechanics’ lien statute’s “written contract” requirement.  In the recent Massachusetts Superior Court decision Clean Properties, Inc. v. Riselli, the Middlesex Superior Court decided that “[n]othing in the mechanics’ lien statute requires a physical signature…on a piece of paper rather than an acceptance of written contract terms by an electronic signature that is conveyed by email.” (C.A. No. 2014-04742) (Salinger, J.)

In Clean Properties, it is alleged that Defendant, Carol Riselli, was provided with a written proposed contract by Clean Properties, Inc., an environmental services company, to perform environmental cleanup work on an emergency basis at Riselli’s property.  Riselli apparently responded via email, stating that she agreed to the terms of the contract.  After Clean Properties performed substantial work on the property, it is claimed Riselli failed to make a single payment.  Clean Properties placed a mechanics’ lien on Riselli’s property, and initiated litigation to recover payment for its services.  Riselli attempted to dissolve the mechanics’ lien, claiming that because there was no signed, written agreement, the “written contract” requirement of the mechanics’ lien statute was not satisfied. The Court disagreed.

Defendant unsuccessfully argued that “no written contract was ever formed because neither party affixed a handwritten signature to a paper form of the contract.”  However, the Court appears to have been persuaded by the plain meaning of the Massachusetts Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (“MUETA”), M.G.L. 110G et seq., which provides that an electronic record or acceptance by email results in a binding contract, and satisfies the statutory requirements of a “written contract.”   The MUETA defines an electronic record as, “a record created, generated, sent, communicated, received or stored by electronic means,” and does not require a physical signature for it to be enforced.

Superior Court Judge Kenneth W. Salinger agreed and found on these facts that the email Riselli sent to Clean Properties, Inc., which contained her name in the signature block, and expressed her assent to be bound by the deal, formed a binding electronic record under the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act.

The Clean Properties, Inc. v. Riselli decision is further evidence that the law is evolving to meet the pervasive use of new technology in business and society at large.  In light of today’s wide use of electronic communications, this precedent adds clarity that both businesses and individuals can rely upon.  The decision underscores that even in our rapidly evolving world of tweets, face book and electronic mail, the old adage coined by William Penn still holds true: “Rarely promise, but, if lawful, constantly perform.”