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Wodinsky, et al. v. Kettenbach, et al. (Lawyers Weekly No. 11-004-15)

NOTICE:  All slip opinions and orders are subject to formal revision and are superseded by the advance sheets and bound volumes of the Official Reports.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;   13-P-1170                                       Appeals Court   JEROME WODINSKY & another[1]  vs.  MICHAEL L. KETTENBACH[2] & others.[3] No. 13-P-1170. Suffolk.     September 29, 2014. – January 6, 2015.   Present:  Cohen, Meade, & Milkey, JJ. Consumer Protection Act, Trade or commerce.  Massachusetts Civil Rights Act.  Civil Rights, Coercion.  Abuse of Process.  Conspiracy.  Condominiums, Common expenses.  Real Property, Condominium.  Evidence, Relevancy and materiality.  Practice, Civil, Judgment notwithstanding verdict, Attorney’s fees.     Civil actions commenced in the Superior Court Department on September 28, 2009, and November 13, 2009.   After consolidation, the case was tried before Frank M. Gaziano, J., and motions for judgment notwithstanding the verdict and for attorney’s fees were heard by him.     Donald N. Sweeney (Steven P. Perlmutter with him) for the plaintiffs. Alan K. Posner (Mikalen E. Howe with him) for the defendants.     MEADE, J.  Following the consolidation of two cases for a jury trial, Jerome Wodinsky and Bernadette L. Wodinsky appeal from the allowance by the trial judge of a motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict (n.o.v.), which vacated in part a $ 1.85 million award[4] against the defendants, Michael L. Kettenbach, individually and as trustee of 303 Commonwealth Condominium Trust; Frances Demoulas Kettenbach, individually and as manager of CMTF, LP (CMTF); and Gary Crossen, individually and as trustee of 303 Commonwealth Avenue Realty Trust.[5]  The Wodinskys also appeal from the judge’s refusal to send to the jury their G. L. c. 93A claims against each of the three individual defendants, and the judge’s decision to reduce the attorney’s fees award to one of their attorneys.  Crossen and the Kettenbachs cross appeal, claiming that the judge erred in denying their motion for judgment n.o.v. on the Wodinskys’ abuse of process, civil conspiracy, and Massachusetts Civil Rights Act (MCRA) claims, in making certain evidentiary rulings, and in awarding attorney’s fees to the Wodinskys.[6]  Finally, the Kettenbachs, as trustees of the 303 Commonwealth Condominium Trust, appeal the verdict in the second action in the Wodinskys’ favor, claiming that they should not have been permitted to challenge the assessment of condominium expenses against them.[7]  We affirm. Background.  Mindful of the jury’s verdicts, we summarize relevant facts in the light most favorable to the Wodinskys, reserving certain details for our later discussion.  See Foley v. Polaroid Corp., 400 Mass. 82, 85 (1987).  At the time of trial, the Wodinskys and the […]


Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - January 6, 2015 at 5:15 pm

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