Posts tagged "1108915"

Wessell v. Mink Brook Associates, Inc., et al. (Lawyers Weekly No. 11-089-15)

NOTICE:  All slip opinions and orders are subject to formal revision and are superseded by the advance sheets and bound volumes of the Official Reports.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; SJCReporter@sjc.state.ma.us   14-P-1120                                       Appeals Court   MARY ELLEN WESSELL  vs.  MINK BROOK ASSOCIATES, INC., & another.[1] No. 14-P-1120. Worcester.     April 7, 2015. – August 5, 2015.   Present:  Kantrowitz, Kafker, & Hanlon, JJ.   Massachusetts Wage Act.  Attorney at Law, Disqualification, Attorney-client relationship, Conflict of interest.  Employment, Retaliation, Termination.  Damages, Wrongful discharge of employee, Back pay.  Practice, Civil, Instructions to jury, Damages.       Civil action commenced in the Superior Court Department on June 19, 2012.   A motion to disqualify the plaintiff’s attorney was heard by David Ricciardone, J., and the case was tried before him.     Gregg S. Haladyna for the defendants. Steven D. Weatherhead (John F. Welsh with him) for the plaintiff.     KANTROWITZ, J.  This case involves a dispute between an employee and her former employer regarding unpaid wages.  The plaintiff, Mary Ellen Wessell, successfully sued Mink Brook Associates, Inc. (Mink Brook), and owner Robert C. Stone under the Wage Act for lost wages and retaliatory discharge after Stone refused to issue her a paycheck, she complained, and she was fired. In this appeal, the defendants argue that the trial judge improperly denied their pretrial motion to disqualify opposing counsel because Wessell’s attorney, who was her long-time personal friend, had previously provided informal legal advice to her on certain topics in Wessell’s capacity as an employee of Mink Brook.  The defendants also contend that the judge improperly instructed the jury on compensatory damages on the retaliation claim.  We affirm. Background.[2]  Mink Brook was incorporated in 1993 as a franchisee of Paul Davis Restoration, a national company that performed restoration work on houses to mitigate damage from flooding, fire, mold, or other problems.  Stone was Mink Brook’s owner and president.  In 2007, Stone contacted Wessell to discuss hiring her to work on the company’s financial matters and record-keeping.  She joined Mink Brook in its Worcester office as a subcontractor at an hourly rate, and in 2008 she became the company’s “business manager” at an annual salary of $ 50,000.  Wessell’s duties included managing accounts, human resources, payroll, bookkeeping, insurance policies, vehicle registration, and licenses.  She would occasionally work from home on a laptop computer that Stone purchased.  Wessell also performed unpaid work duties during her vacations or at times outside of her business hours.  Employees received paychecks every two weeks.  Wessell testified that she worked about fifty […]

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Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - August 5, 2015 at 3:48 pm

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