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Successful Defense of Business Owner

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Rudolph Friedmann partner Jonathon Friedmann was successful in overturning a summary judgment motion and damages in the amount of $865,000 against a client sued for fraud and deceit in regards to a lease he executed with Copley Place Associates (Copley). Jonathon took over representation of the client after the summary judgment award was issued by the Massachusetts Superior Court. He represented the client during the trial on damages and in the subsequent appeal to the Massachusetts Appeals Court.

By way of background, the firm’s client executed a lease in his capacity as an officer of a corporation and later informed Copley that another individual, who was also a part of the corporation, could negotiate a large check. Copley issued a check to this individual as a portion of the “Landlord’s Contribution” provided for in the lease and the check was deposited in the corporation’s account. When the funds were not used to further the project as required by the lease, Copley sued our client, the individual who deposited the check, and several others on a variety of theories.

The corporation that intended to lease the space failed to make an appearance in the case and a judgment in excess of $6 million was entered against the company. Copley proceeded to obtain default judgments of more than $6 million against all other defendants except our client. Copley then filed a motion for summary judgment against our client arguing there was no genuine dispute as to any material fact and that Copley was entitled to judgment as a matter of law. The judge awarded Copley partial summary judgment on liability for fraud and violation of G. L. c. 93A. The client then hired Rudolph Friedmann to represent him during the trial on damages, which was presided over by a different judge. A jury returned a verdict against the client for $865,000. Jonathon moved for judgment notwithstanding the verdict, and upon the trial judge’s denial of that motion, filed an appeal challenging the partial summary judgment ruling.

The Massachusetts Appeals Court found there were material issues of fact in dispute and vacated the partial summary judgment ruling as well as the $865,000 in damages against the firm’s client. The case has been remanded to the Massachusetts Superior Court for further proceedings.