Dear Friends and Colleagues,
I hope this letter finds you and your family well, and that the New Year brings all of us a fresh and new beginning.
Over the past six months we have been working on a number of difficult and interesting cases in which we have had some significant successes on behalf of our clients, and which I thought you might be interested in knowing about.
You may recall from our last newsletter that we had recently gone through a twelve-day trial at the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, where I represented a woman whom we strongly believed was terminated because of her age from a company owned by Paul Fireman, the former CEO of Reebok and one of the wealthiest men in the country. Of 13 employees terminated around the same time, 12 were over 40 years old (the suspect category, pursuant to the statute and case law), and of them, 10 were over 50, and 2 were over 60. Our client was just shy of her 60th birthday. It was a hard-fought battle, but in the end, we were successful. The MCAD Hearing Officer awarded our client five years’ salary, together with one-half of her final year’s real estate commission earnings for the same five-year period, plus $200,000 in damages for emotional distress. In total, including interest to date, the award was in excess of $900,000. The Commission is now determining the amount to award my client for her attorney’s fees, as mandated by the discrimination statute. Although the other side has commenced an appeal, we feel strongly that the well-reasoned decision and award will be upheld. This case received national attention in newspapers, the internet and on the radio. I am attaching copies of what appeared in the Boston Herald, Cape Cod Times and Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly.
We then followed up by filing a Complaint in the Superior Court in order to obtain security for our award, and the Court issued a temporary restraining order preventing the defendant companies from transferring or encumbering any of their assets.
We also handled a case involving a claim by a condominium unit owner against the condo association and a fellow unit owner-trustee. After a number of preliminary court hearings and depositions, we had the unusual experience of the other side not even showing up for trial. As a result, the judge granted our request for a dismissal – and so far, we haven’t heard from the other party or attorney. Needless to say, not all trials are that easy. I can only attribute this turn of events to our careful preparation and discovery – and the other side’s conclusion that trying their case would be futile.
The other trial we attended – and did try – started out as a quite ordinary car accident case which I handled for a long-standing client. The insurance coverage was in the minimal amount of $20,000, and there was no issue of the other driver’s having caused the accident: she admitted to the police officer that she strayed over the center yellow line while she was lighting a cigarette. Nevertheless, her insurance company refused to settle, or even make a settlement offer, for over a year, and not until well after we had started the lawsuit. Because my client was elderly, I was able to advance the case for a speedy trial, and voilà, the company offered the policy limits, which we accepted. But, we insisted on going forward with the consumer fraud claim we commenced against the insurer pursuant to our state statute, Chapter 93A. This case points up how in some situations insurance companies delay settlement of disputes with the intention of causing some injured parties to just throw up their hands and give up. That might have been the case here – but we wanted to make sure the recalcitrant company did not get away with those tactics without paying a steep price. Our Massachusetts consumer and business fraud statute provides for multiple damages and attorney’s fees specifically to discourage that kind of behavior. We are awaiting the Court’s decision.
Friends of Switzerland and the American Council on Germany have had active speaker luncheon programs this year. Just after the German national election this past Fall our Boston ACG Chapter hosted two luncheons featuring speakers who commented on the results of the election and the impact on the transatlantic relationship with the United States. One of our luncheon speakers was the Consul General of Germany in Boston, Honorable Friedrich Löhr. A photo from that event is attached. Friends of Switzerland has had several speaker luncheons as well. One featured investment advisor Stephen Hoch of Highmount Capital, who spoke about the somewhat improving financial situation in the U.S. and Switzerland, and how that affected investors in both markets. Our February speaker is John Durant, the Director of the MIT Art Museum. If you are interested in learning more about FOSI or the ACG, please contact me or visit their websites, www.friendsofswitzerland.org and www.acgusa.org.
I was recently invited to join an international consortium of law firms and attorneys, ij International Jurists, and have agreed to do so. This is a network of law firms in Europe, South America, the Middle East and the U.S. This membership will allow me to work with excellent law firms around the world in solving our clients’ legal problems, and will expand on our international practice here in the U.S. and abroad.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for thinking of us when matters arise where we can be of assistance. We practice in a wide variety of legal areas, including trials and appeals, business and commercial transactions, employment and discrimination, university and school issues, and divorce law. If you have any questions about these cases or about any legal matters where we can be of assistance to you or someone you know, please do not hesitate to call on me.
All the best.
Hon. Friedrich Loehr, Consul General of Germany in Boston, with Marc Redlich.