Today the Supreme Judicial Court entered decisions in two parallel cases effectively spotlighting issues with Western Court procedures.
The Western Division Court accepted over 90 filings from a manager, Fred Basile d/b/a RPM Services, on behalf of various owners over various years.
The tenant advocates argued that Basile was engaged in the unauthorized practice of law, that this was a violation of MGL Chapter 93A, and that Basile should have to pay triple damages plus attorneys fees.
The owner advocates argued that since the court had permitted this practice, Basile was not liable under 93A.
Arguably, neither party won the case.
Basile lost in the sense that the SJC affirmed the lower court's decision that Basile could not proceed with his evictions because he was not signed to the lease. They seem to agree with the basic renter assertion that he was filing such cases as a pattern of abuse, and remanded the decision to the lower court for sanctions against Basile.
The renters lost in the sense that the SJC denied automatic 93A damages. What sanctions may be imposed by the lower court is unclear, but this was not the precedent setting case they hope for.
Presumably both sides will claim victory.
Individual owners and managers should hire an attorney. The courts should reject filings that are not compliant at the outset, rather than letting them proceed to the point of sanctions. It is hoped that the Western Division court will no longer permit such filings.
A full write-up will appear in the June 2018 newsletter.
Read the cases here: