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Mt. Ivy Press, L.P., et al. v. Defonseca (Lawyers Weekly No. 11-042-14)

NOTICE:  All slip opinions and orders are subject to formal revision and are superseded by the advance sheets and bound volumes of the Official Reports.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       13‑P‑606                                        Appeals Court   MT. IVY PRESS, L.P., & another[1]  vs.  MISHA DEFONSECA.[2] No. 13‑P‑606. Middlesex.     January 10, 2014.  ‑  April 29, 2014. Present:  Kantrowitz, Vuono, & Sullivan, JJ.   Judgment, Relief from judgment.  Practice, Civil, Relief from judgment.       Civil action commenced in the Superior Court Department on April 8, 2008.   After review by this court, 78 Mass. App. Ct. 340 (2010), the case was heard by Thomas R. Murtagh, J., on a motion for summary judgment.     Misha Defonseca, pro se. Brian S. McCormick for the plaintiffs.       KANTROWITZ, J.  This is the third, and hopefully the last, of a trilogy of cases that have played out before us.[3]  Having twice before considered issues relating to the publication of the defendant’s memoir of survival during the Holocaust (the details of which have now been revealed as false), we are now asked to decide whether it was proper for the court below to vacate a substantial judgment against the plaintiffs.  We conclude that it was. Facts.  In 1995, Misha Defonseca entered into an agreement with plaintiff Jane Daniel and her company, Mt. Ivy Press, L.P. (Mt. Ivy), to publish a memoir of her experiences in Europe during the Holocaust.  Entitled Misha:  A Mémoire of the Holocaust Years, the work told the harrowing story of Defonseca’s survival as a young girl during the Holocaust “thanks to her strong will and guile as well as, incredibly, the aid of a pack of wolves, who ‘adopted’ and protected her, providing food, companionship, and affection.”  The story even included her killing a Nazi soldier.  Mt. Ivy I, 63 Mass. App. Ct. at 539.  Since English was not Defonseca’s native language, she was paired with a ghostwriter, Vera Lee, to assist in the writing of the book.  See id. at 540. Throughout the publication process, Mt. Ivy and its principal, Jane Daniel, engaged in many highly improper representations and activities which need not be detailed here.  See Mt. Ivy I.  Suffice it to say that the improprieties resulted in a jury verdict against Daniel and Mt. Ivy in favor of Defonseca in the amount of $ 7.5 million, and for Lee in the amount of $ 3.3 million.  The trial judge found for Lee and Defonseca on their G. L. c. 93A claims, and trebled the damages, resulting in judgments […]

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Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - April 29, 2014 at 3:14 pm

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