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The Woodward School for Girls, Inc. v. City of Quincy, et al. (Lawyers Weekly No. 10-129-14)

NOTICE:  All slip opinions and orders are subject to formal revision and are superseded by the advance sheets and bound volumes of the Official Reports.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-11390   THE WOODWARD SCHOOL FOR GIRLS, INC.  vs.  CITY OF QUINCY, trustee,[1] & another.[2]       Norfolk.     December 2, 2013. – July 23, 2014. Present:  Spina, Cordy, Botsford, Gants, Duffly, & Lenk, JJ.     Trust, Charitable trust, Investments, Trustee’s accounts.  Damages, Breach of fiduciary duty, Interest.  Interest.  Massachusetts Tort Claims Act.  Governmental Immunity.  Immunity from Suit.  Municipal Corporations, Trusts, Governmental immunity.  Waiver.  Laches.       Civil action commenced in the Supreme Judicial Court for the county of Suffolk on July 11, 2007.   After transfer to the Norfolk County Division of the Probate and Family Court Department, the case was heard by Robert W. Langlois, J.   The Supreme Judicial Court on its own initiative transferred the case from the Appeals Court.     John S. Leonard (James S. Timmins, City Solicitor, with him) for city of Quincy. Sarah G. Kim (Josephine M. Deang Chin & Alison K. Eggers with her) for the plaintiff.     CORDY, J.  This dispute arises from a trust established in 1822 by former President John Adams and supplemented by a bequest of his grandson in 1886.  The city[3] of Quincy (Quincy) served as trustee of the Adams Temple and School Fund and the Charles Francis Adams Fund (collectively, Funds) through two boards.[4]  The Woodward School for Girls, Inc. (Woodward), the income beneficiary of the Funds since 1953, filed suit against Quincy initially seeking an accounting and thereafter asserting that Quincy committed a breach of its fiduciary duties to keep adequate records, invest the trust’s assets properly, exercise reasonable prudence in the sales of real estate, and incur only reasonable expenses related to the management of the Funds.  We transferred the case here on our own motion following Quincy’s appeal and Woodward’s cross appeal from a Probate and Family Court judge’s ruling removing Quincy as trustee and ordering it to pay a nearly $ 3 million judgment.[5] On appeal, Quincy asserts that the trial judge erred in finding that Quincy committed a breach of its fiduciary duties to the Funds by failing to invest in growth equities to protect the principal when the Funds have only an income beneficiary to provide for, and by not heeding specific investment advice it received in 1973.  In addition, Quincy challenges the award of damages, alleging that it was based on an improperly introduced and unsound […]

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Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - July 23, 2014 at 6:08 pm

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