Tuesday, December 27, 2005

First Circuit Reverses Grant of Summary Judgment

The First Circuit in Massachusetts Asset Financing Corp. v. Harter, Secrest & Emery, LLP, 430 F.3d 59 (1st Cir.(Mass.) Dec 01, 2005) (NO. 04-2541) issued an opinion earlier this month in which they reversed the district court's entry of summary judgment. The plaintiff in the case had alleged simple negligence under circumstances the district court concluded involved a mere gratuitous undertaking on the part of the defendant, something that would have to be accompanied by "gross negligence" in order to be actionable for damages under Massachusetts law. Thus, the district court entered summary judgment in favor of the defendant.

The First Circuit held that it was for a jury to decide whether the act was indeed gratuitous or whether it was undertaken for a business purpose, even though the defendant received no pecuniary compensation. Were a jury to decide there indeed was a business purpose, simple negligence would suffice.


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