Superior Court of Massachusetts, Suffolk, Business Litigation Session
Ashley SCHIEFER, et al., for Themselves and on Behalf of all Others Similarly Situated
BAIN CAPITAL, LP fka Bain Capital, LLC
MEMORANDUM OF DECISION AND ORDER ON ASHLEY SCHIEFERâS
APPLICATION FOR PRE-JUDGMENT INTEREST
L. Sanders, Justice
August 21, 2017, Ashley Schiefer, one of four plaintiffs in
this putative class action alleging failure to pay overtime
wages, accepted a Rule 68 Offer of Judgment (the Offer) made
by defendant Bain Capital LP (Bain). The Offer included $80,
000, reasonable attorneys fees and costs, and prejudgment
interest as determined by the Court. This Court has already
made a determination as to the attorneys fees. This
Memorandum addresses the question of prejudgment interest.
Although both parties agree as to the applicable rate (twelve
percent), they disagree as to the date from which interest
should be calculated.
6C of G.L.c. 231 applies to actions like this one based on
contractual obligations. By its terms, the statute provides
that interest accrues " from the date of the breach or
demand, " provided that such date can be determined.
G.L.c. 231, Â§ 6C. If the date of the breach or demand is not
established, interest accrues " from the date of the
commencement of the action." Id. The purpose of
Section 6C is to " compensate a damaged party for the
loss or use or unlawful detention of money."
Sterilite Corp. v. Continental Cas. Co.,
397 Mass. 837, 841 (1986), quoting Perkins School for the
Blind v. Rate Setting Commân, 383 Mass. 825, 835 (1981).
Although Section 6C " commands a ministerial act, its
sole or primary purpose was not to provide administrative
ease, " but to ensure that the person wrongfully
deprived of the use of money is " made whole for his
loss." Sterilite, 396 Mass. at 841-42. Thus,
even if there are multiple breaches so as require different
calculations, the Court should engage in that analysis in
keeping with that statutory purpose. Id.
argues that the dates of defendantâs breaches are "
established" within the meaning of Section 6C because
the Offer pays Schiefer on her breach of contract claim, and
a breach of that contract occurred at the end of each pay
period when Bain failed to compensate her for overtime- a
point in time that is easily ascertained and is undisputed.
Schiefer worked 72 pay periods during her employment at Bain.
If the $80, 000 Offer is apportioned equally over those pay
periods, $1, 111 should be apportioned to each pay period,
with interest calculated from that date. In a chart attached
as Exhibit A to her Application, plaintiff explains how those
calculations amount to a total of $60, 813.09 in prejudgment
interest. Bain does not dispute the dates on which each pay
period ended. Nor does it question the correctness of the
formula that Schiefer uses if this Court were to accept her
reasoning that she is entitled to prejudgment interest where
there are multiple breaches of the contract. Rather, Bain
argues more broadly that, because there are multiple
breaches, she is precluded from obtaining prejudgment
interest that predates the commencement of the action. In
support of this argument, Bain relies heavily on Peabody
N.E., Inc. v. Town of Marshfield, 426 Mass. 436 (1998)
and argues that Peabody, not Sterilite,
should guide this Courtâs analysis. This Court disagrees.
action in Peabody arose out of a contract dispute
between a plaintiff construction company and defendant town
over the construction of a waste treatment facility. The
contract in question called for the construction to be
completed by a certain date. Based on a masterâs report, the
lower court concluded that both parties had not fulfilled
their contractual obligations and thus could not recover on
their respective breach of contract claims the construction
company failed to complete its work by the date specified in
the contract, and the town had contributed to the delay. The
court nevertheless awarded damages to the plaintiff on a
quantum meruit theory, and the SJC affirmed. The SJC then
turned to the issue of prejudgment interest and stated:
" Where no demand is made and multiple breaches occur
... interest must accrue âfrom the date of the commencement
of the action.â " Peabody, 426 Mass. at 445.
The SJC went on to modify the lower courtâs decision so that
prejudgment interest was calculated from the date suit was
seizes on this language in Peabody and argues that,
notwithstanding Sterilite (which clearly
contemplated the possibility of prejudgment interest based on
multiple breaches), Schieferâs prejudgment interest can only
be calculated from the date that she joined as a plaintiff in
this action. But Bain ignores the context in which the SJC in
Peabody made its pronouncement. As the SJC
explained, the date of breach in that case was not easily
established since both parties were responsible for at least
one breach of the contract; indeed, neither party was able to
recover on a contract theory. The instant case is quite
the Offer is to pay Schiefer on her breach of contract claim,
not just on the more general claim of quantum meruit. Second,
unlike the plaintiff in Peabody, Schiefer did not
share in any of the responsibility for the alleged wrongdoing
or contribute in some way to cause a breach. Finally, the
date of breach is easily ascertainable given the nature of
the claim at issue: having failed to include compensation for
overtime in each paycheck, Bain breached its obligation to
pay her overtime each time Schiefer received that paycheck-
that is, at the end of each pay period. As of that date,
Schiefer was wrongfully deprived of some amount of money.
award of interest is to compensate her for her loss of that
money at that point in time when she experienced the loss and
(as Sterilite requires) to make her whole for her
loss. The SJC in Peabody gave no indication that it
intended to overrule Sterilite or that, if faced
with a situation like the instant one, that it would adopt
Bainâs reasoning. Accordingly, ...