Pierce & Mandell, P.C.

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Boston, Massachusetts 02108-3002

Phone: (617) 720-2444
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Pierce & Mandell Partner Dennis Lindgren Featured in Lawyers Weekly Profile

Joseph Coupal - Friday, August 04, 2017
Dennis Lindgren

Pierce & Mandell Partner Dennis Lindgren shared his legal insights and tips in Lawyers Weekly Profile. Read more...

 

 

 

Pierce & Mandell Attorneys Help Merge Golf Associations

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Pierce & Mandell, P.C., Hannah S. SpinelliBy Hannah S. Spinelli

In a historic move, on May 10, 2017 The Women’s Golf Association of Massachusetts, Inc. (“WGAM”) and Massachusetts Golf Association, Inc. (“MGA”) signed a merger agreement turning the two non-profit organizations into one golf association effective January 1, 2018. The interests of both groups will be united and efforts combined to promote the game to all members, male or female. The merged organization will retain the “MGA” name.

Pierce & Mandell, P.C., led by Bob Pierce, Bill Mandell, and Hannah Schindler Spinelli, represented WGAM in the merger and worked to ensure that WGAM’s mission and events (both competitive tournaments and instructional clinics) would be maintained for women within the newly merged MGA. In the official merger announcement, Cathleen Beach, WGAM’s Executive Director, championed the news, stating, “[t]his is an important moment for golf in Massachusetts. Together we will be stronger, more efficient and will reach even more golfers across the state.”

Merger of the two organizations creates an opportunity to maximize resources available to all Massachusetts golfers. MGA President Tom Bagley stated in the merger announcement: “After years of collaborating informally, it became clear to both Associations that we could better utilize all our resources – staff, volunteers and finances – if we work together.” As Tom further indicated, the goal moving forward will be for the merged association to serve all golfers in the Commonwealth. In other prior public remarks, the MGA’s Executive Director, Jesse Menachem, added, “[t]he MGA will greatly benefit from having women even more active in all facets of the organization.” On behalf of WGAM, President Leslie Logan stated, “We are confident that women's golf in Massachusetts will thrive under the new structure. Our membership, championships, events and scholarship programs will be better served by our two organizations coming together.”

By way of background, the MGA came into existence in 1903 and, throughout its time, has grown to include over 360 member clubs, annually sponsors 12 championships, and currently has more than 87,000 member golfers, growing into one of the larger golf associations in the country. MGA’s primary focus has been promoting the game to its member clubs, its individual members, and the general golfing public in the Commonwealth, as well as encouraging the growth of amateur golf.

The Women’s Golf Association of Boston was formed in 1900, before changing its name to WGAM in 1929, with the goal of fostering and promoting interest in women’s golf, and that it did: WGAM currently organizes 24 competitions throughout the year, offers scholarships for junior female golfers, and encourages women of all ages to participate in the sport.

Effective January 1, 2018, the MGA will preserve the traditions of each separate association and continue to grow through collaborative efforts promoting the game of golf. The two organizations initially announced plans to merge after signing a “Letter of Intent to Merge” on November 7, 2016 and each organization formally approved the merger in April, 2017.

Pierce & Mandell, P.C.’s business and real estate attorneys are skilled in all aspects of mergers and acquisitions, and can guide businesses, large or small, for profit or non, through the process to ensure a smooth and successful transaction.

The Wage Act – Are Commissions Considered Wages?

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Pierce & Mandell, P.C., Boston, MABy Curtis Dooling

The Massachusetts Wage Act, G. L. c. 149, § 148, requires that employees pay their employees’ wages within six days of the end of the applicable pay period. The law includes harsh penalties for failure to pay wages, including the mandatory award of triple damages and attorneys’ fees. An employer that violates the Wage Act can also be subject to criminal penalties and corporate officers and directors can be held personally liable for Wage Act violations.

While the payment of hourly wages and salaries is generally straightforward, the payment of commissions can be decidedly less so. Employers often refuse to pay commissions to employees upon termination, even when the employee has earned the commission.

The Wage Act applies to commissions and the failure to pay earned commissions subjects employers to the same harsh penalties as the failure to pay hourly wages. The Wage Act states, in relevant part,

This section shall apply, so far as apt, to the payment of commissions when the amount of such commissions, less allowable or authorized deductions, has been definitely determined and has become due and payable to such employee, and commissions so determined and due such employees shall be subject to the provisions of section one hundred and fifty.

In other words, if the commission can be calculated and is due under the terms of an employment contract, the employer must pay it, or be subject to the penalties set forth in the Wage Act.

Even if the commissions are discretionary, that doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t fall under the guise of the Wage Act. Even when employers have wide discretion in making calculations and determinations as to the amount of commissions, an employee can still bring a Wage Act claim and can be awarded damages if the employee can show that the commissions were due and payable and definitively determined.

Pierce & Mandell’s litigation attorneys are well-versed in all aspects of the Wage Act and can guide both employers and employees through the process of filing and defending a Wage Act claim.

Pierce & Mandell Probate Lawyers Secure Appeals Court Victory In Case Involving Interpretation Of A Will

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, June 22, 2017

Scott Zanolli, Pierce & MandelMichael Fee, Pierce & MandelBy: Michael C. Fee and Scott M. Zanolli

The Massachusetts Appeals Court recently affirmed a decision by Judge Virginia Ward, of the Suffolk County Probate Court, granting summary judgment to Pierce & Mandell’s client in a lawsuit seeking a declaration regarding the interpretation of a will. Michael C. Fee argued the case before the three-justice panel, and Scott M. Zanolli and Curtis B. Dooling assisted in drafting the brief.

The will at issue was prepared on behalf of the testatrix by her long-time companion at a time when she was suffering from terminal illness. The will made specific bequests of personal and real property, but omitted her interest as tenant in common with her brother in the family home. After her death, and her brother’s subsequent death, disputes arose regarding ownership of the real estate, and Pierce & Mandell’s probate litigators took the case to court in Boston.

After Pierce & Mandell secured summary judgment in its client’s favor, opposing counsel sought further review before the Appeals Court. The sole issue on appeal was whether the will’s residuary clause requiring a bequest of “any monies remaining in [testatrix’s] estate,” included by implication her one-half interest in real property. The clause at issue read specifically as follows:

“B. Residuary estate

“I direct that any monies remaining in my estate be given to my partner . . . , and, upon his death, to the . . . Center for the Creative Arts . . . ”

Michael C. Fee argued that the term “monies” in the will was not sufficient to devise real estate, and the Appeals Court agreed. The Court held:

Our case law has also eschewed the broader meaning [of monies] . . .. In our view, the rule of thumb in these circumstances is that “money” should be construed as commonly understood, unless “a reading of the whole will produces a conviction that the testator must necessarily have intended” the broader meaning. Metcalf v. First Parish in Framingham, 128 Mass. 370, 374 (1880). Nothing in the language or context of [the testatrix’s] will supports the broader interpretation.

Moreover, the Court expressly rejected the opposition’s argument that the caption “Residuary estate,” supported a broad interpretation of the word “monies” because, “[a]s English professors and writers, [the testatrix] would have selected a title that described in concise fashion what Article 2B was about.” Specifically, the Court stated:

One might equally expect English professors and writers to be precise in their choice of words, and not to have written “monies” if they meant “anything else.” See Strunk & White, The Elements of Style 21 (4th ed. 2000) (“If those who have studied the art of writing are in accord on any one point, it is on this: the surest way to arouse and hold the reader's attention is by being specific, definite, and concrete”).

Finally, the Court acknowledged that in interpreting wills under Massachusetts law there is generally a presumption against intestacy, and that “’a construction of a will resulting in intestacy is not to be adopted unless plainly required; and it is to be presumed that when a will is made the testator intended a disposition of all [her] property and did not intend to leave an intestate estate.’ Lyman v. Sohier, 266 Mass. 4, 8 (1929).” However, in this instance, nothing in the will’s language and the circumstances surrounding the execution of the will, demonstrated the testatrix’s intent with respect to her interest in the real estate.

Pierce & Mandell attorneys Michael C. Fee and Scott M. Zanolli regularly litigate in Probate Court in Boston, and throughout Massachusetts. Together they handle a variety of probate litigation and trust litigation cases including petitions for formal appointment of a personal representative, petitions for probate of wills, will contests, undue influence cases, contested accountings by personal representatives, trust petitions for allowance of accounts, contested trust accountings, and petitions for removal of trustees.

A full copy of the opinion can be found at Roth v. Newpol, 91 Mass. App. Ct. 609 (2017).

Pierce & Mandell Partners Recognized as Super Lawyers - Boston, MA

Joseph Coupal - Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Pierce & Mandell, P.C. is proud to announce that partners Bob Pierce, Bill Mandell, Thomas E. Kenney, Michael Fee, Bob Kirby and Dennis Lindgren have been selected for inclusion in the 2017 Massachusetts Super Lawyers.

Bob Pierce was recognized as a Super Lawyer in the practice of Civil Litigation Defense, Bill Mandell in Health Care Law, Dennis Lindgren in Personal Injury General: Plaintiff and Tom Kenney, Michael Fee and Bob Kirby in Business Litigation.

Super Lawyers is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high-degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The selection process is multi-phased and includes independent research, peer nominations, and peer evaluations. Rising Stars are those attorneys under the age of 40 who have been nominated by peers for excellence in their chosen practice area. Candidates are then evaluated utilizing twelve indicators of peer recognition and professional achievement. No more than 3 percent of eligible lawyers in Massachusetts are named to the Rising Star list each year.

The Super Lawyers supplement will be published in the November, 2017 issue of Boston Magazine and is widely distributed in regional publications and across the country.

For information or assistance from Pierce & Mandell, P.C., contact us.

Bill Mandell was Quoted in the April 2017 Emergency Department Legal Letter Article

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, April 06, 2017

Pierce & Mandell, Curtis DoolingBill Mandell was quoted in the April 2017 Emergency Department Legal Letter article on visitors and guns in hospital emergency departments and suggested a useful policies for hospitals to consider.


Attorney Curtis Dooling Serves as Panelist for MCLE Practicing with Professionalism Course

Joseph Coupal - Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Pierce & Mandell, Curtis DoolingAll newly admitted lawyers in Massachusetts are required to take a one-day professionalism course within 18 months of admission. The day-long course, which is run by Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education (MCLE), covers a variety of topics, including ethics and professional conduct, court practice and successful attorney-client relationships.

MCLE recently invited Pierce & Mandell’s Curtis Dooling to sit on a lunchtime panel as part of the professionalism course. Dooling and three other panelists spoke to attendees and answered questions on such varied topics as balancing work and family, dealing with intransigent opposing counsel and career development.

On participating in the Practicing with Professionalism course, Dooling noted, “I found the discussion to be instructive and enjoyable and I was honored to be invited back by MCLE to be a panelist. I tried to provide some practical advice to the newly-admitted attorneys, advice I would have liked to receive when I was a newly admitted lawyer. The discussion focused on real-life issues, such as client relationships and career development, that aren’t taught in law school. I look forward to participating in more MCLE curricula in the future.”

Robert Kirby Argues Privacy Case in the SJC

Joseph Coupal - Friday, March 10, 2017

Pierce & Madell, Boston, MA, Robert L. Kirby, JrBy Robert L. Kirby, Jr.

Ajemian v. Yahoo! Inc.: On March 9, Robert Kirby argued before the Supreme Judicial Court in a case of first impression. The issue before the Court was whether the federal Stored Communications Act, 18 U.S.C. 2701, et seq. bars providers of electronic communication services (in this case, Yahoo!) from divulging the contents of a deceased account holder's account to the personal representatives of the decedent. Read more here.

Dooling Wins Premises Liability Jury Trial in Berkshire County

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, February 02, 2017

Curt Dooling recently obtained a defense verdict on behalf of his clients in a jury trial in the Pittsfield District Court in Berkshire County.

The plaintiff sustained multiple leg fractures after tripping over an entrance rug in a convenience store in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. Dooling represented the owner and operator of the convenience store. The plaintiff alleged that the entrance rug on which he tripped was defective because it failed to comply with American National Standard B101.6, the Standard Guide for Commercial Entrance Matting. The plaintiff also claimed that the store failed to properly secure the mat to the floor, which created a tripping hazard.

Before the trial began, Dooling filed a motion in limine to exclude any evidence regarding the size and type of the entrance rug on which the plaintiff tripped and whether the rug complied with any industry standard or regulation. The trial judge allowed Dooling’s motion in limine, and as a result, the plaintiff was foreclosed from presenting evidence in support of key elements of his theory of liability.

The jury deliberated for less than one hour and returned a defense verdict, determining that Pierce & Mandell’s clients were not negligent.

Supreme Judicial Court Takes Appeal in Case Involving the Stored Communications Act

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Pierce & Madell, Boston, MA, Robert L. Kirby, JrBy Robert L. Kirby, Jr.

In Ajemian v. Yahoo!, we represent the personal representatives of an estate seeking to gain access to the contents of a decedent’s Yahoo! email account. The Probate Court ruled that the Stored Communications Act, 18 U.S.C. 2701 et. seq., prohibited Yahoo! from divulging the contents of the email account to the personal representatives. We appealed. The Supreme Judicial Court has, sua sponte, transferred the appeal from the Appeals Court. We expect the Supreme Judicial Court to hear the appeal in early 2017.


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