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Bellermann, et al. v. Fitchburg Gas and Electric Light Company (Lawyers Weekly No. 10-110-16)

NOTICE:  All slip opinions and orders are subject to formal revision and are superseded by the advance sheets and bound volumes of the Official Reports.  If you find a typographical error or other formal error, please notify the Reporter of Decisions, Supreme Judicial Court, John Adams Courthouse, 1 Pemberton Square, Suite 2500, Boston, MA, 02108-1750; (617) 557-1030; SJCReporter@sjc.state.ma.us   SJC-11979   MARCIA D. BELLERMANN & others[1]  vs.  FITCHBURG GAS AND ELECTRIC LIGHT COMPANY.       Worcester.     March 10, 2016. – July 29, 2016.   Present:  Gants, C.J., Spina, Cordy, Botsford, Duffly, Lenk, & Hines, JJ.[2]       Electric Company.  Public Utilities, Electric company.  Practice, Civil, Class action, Consumer protection case.  Consumer Protection Act, Class action, Unfair or deceptive act.       Civil action commenced in the Superior Court Department on January 7, 2009.   Following review by this court, 470 Mass. 43 (2014), a renewed motion for class certification was heard by Richard T. Tucker, J., and a decision allowing class certification was reported by him to the Appeals Court.   The Supreme Judicial Court granted an application for direct appellate review.     Gavin J. Rooney, of New Jersey (Anne W. Chisholm & Eric R. Passeggio with him) for the defendant. Deborah Phillips (Barry M. Altman & Edwin H. Howard with her) for the plaintiffs. Robin L. Main, for Massachusetts Electric Company & others, amici curiae, submitted a brief.     DUFFLY, J.  In Bellermann v. Fitchburg Gas & Elec. Light Co., 470 Mass. 43 (2014) (Bellermann I), we affirmed a Superior Court judge’s denial of a motion for class certification of residential and business customers of the defendant, Fitchburg Gas and Electric Light Company (FG&E).[3]  In that case, the plaintiffs, who lost electric power during a major winter ice storm in 2008 that struck significant portions of the northeast (Winter Storm 2008), sought class certification under G. L. c. 93A, §§ 9 (2) and 11, for themselves and other users of electricity who were injured by FG&E’s assertedly inadequate preparation for and response to Winter Storm 2008.  See Bellermann I, supra at 44-46.  The plaintiffs’ efforts to obtain class certification in that case were premised on FG&E’s asserted failure properly to prepare and plan for Winter Storm 2008, which prolonged the power outages the plaintiffs experienced, and on FG&E’s deceptive communications made before and during the storm that resulted in the plaintiffs’ inability to plan for the extended outages.[4]  See id. at 45, 54.  We concluded that there was no abuse of discretion in the judge’s determination that the record did not support class certification on these theories, because the asserted injuries suffered by class members were too dissimilar.  See id. at 53-57. We also observed, however, that the plaintiffs had proposed […]

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Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - July 31, 2016 at 8:46 pm

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