Sunday, November 24, 2013

Meehan v. Shaughnessy case brief

Meehan v. Shaughnessy case brief summary
535 N.E.2d 1255 (1989)


CASE SYNOPSIS
Defendant law firm sought review of a judgment of a Superior Court (Massachusetts), which granted judgment in favor of plaintiff former law partners. Plaintiffs initiated action against defendant to recover amounts owed to them under the partnership agreement with defendant. Defendant contended that plaintiffs violated the agreement when they left the firm.

CASE FACTS
Plaintiff former law partners left defendant law firm to start their own firm. Plaintiffs initiated action against defendant to recover amounts owed to them under the partnership agreement with defendant. Defendant contended that plaintiffs violated the agreement when they left the firm. The trial court granted judgment in favor of plaintiffs, and defendant sought review.

DISCUSSION

  • Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 108A, § 29 (1986) gave plaintiffs the power to dissolve a partnership at any time and allowed them to design their own methods of dividing assets. 
  • The court held that plaintiffs owed defendant a fiduciary duty of the utmost good faith and loyalty and that they must have refrained from acting for purely private gain. 
  • The court held that the trial court erred in deciding that plaintiffs acted properly in acquiring consent to remove clients and cases from defendant. 
  • The court held that plaintiffs failed to establish their burden of proving no causal connection between their breach of duty and defendant's loss of clients. 
  • The court reversed and remanded a judgment of the trial court.

CONCLUSION
The court reversed and remanded a judgment of the trial court, which granted judgment in favor of plaintiff former law partners in action initiated against defendant law firm to recover amounts owed to them under the partnership agreement. The court held that plaintiffs owed defendant a fiduciary duty of the utmost good faith and loyalty and that they wrongfully acquired consent to remove clients and cases from defendant.

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