Superior Court of Massachusetts, Suffolk, Business Litigation Session
BARTON & ASSOCIATES, INC.
Joseph MATARESE et al.
Date: March 2, 2018
MEMORANDUM OF DECISION AND ORDER ON DEFENDANTSâ
MOTION TO MODIFY JUDGMENT PURSUANT TO RULE 60(b)(5)
Mitchell H. Kaplan, Justice of the Superior Court
December 1, 2005 this court (van Gestel, J.) entered a Final
Judgment concluding this case based upon a settlement
agreement reached by the parties. The Final Judgment
contained a number of elements, among them cash payments from
the defendants, Joseph Matarese and Medicus Staffing, LLC
(Medicus), to the plaintiff Barton & Associates,
Inc. (Barton), and a permanent injunction precluding Medicus
from hiring anyone previously employed by Barton. Medicus has
filed the pending motion under M.R.Civ.P. 60(b)(5) requesting
relief from the permanent injunction. For the reasons that
follow, the motion is DENIED.
and Medicus are both in the " locum tenens
staffing" business. " Locum tenens" is a Latin
term apparently originating in the Seventeenth Century
generally meaning " a temporary substitute, especially
for a doctor or member of the clergy." It has more
recently been used to refer to the business of temporarily
placing physicians or other medical professionals with
employers. See Wikipedia, locum tenens, last edited
January 31, 2018. Barton was first established in 2001, and
Matarese was among its first employees, serving as its
Director of Operations. Barton maintains that Matarese was
the author of its first business plan. In January 2004,
Matarese left Barton and formed Medicus, which began to
compete with Barton and solicit its customers. In February
2004, Barton sued Matarese asserting a number of claims all
predicated on his having founded a competing business; in
September 2004, it added Medicus as a defendant.
September 22, 2005, just prior to trial, the parties reported
to the court that the case had settled. That day the court
ordered the parties to submit to the court a sealed letter
that accurately described the partiesâ settlement agreement.
The order went on to explain that if the parties had not
submitted an agreement for judgment within 45 days, it would
open the letter and, if it believed it appropriate, enter a
final judgment based upon the terms described in the letter.
The parties submitted the letter, but were unable themselves
to agree upon and execute the documents concluding the case.
The court then opened the letter and entered a Final Judgment
incorporating its terms. Medicus filed a notice of appeal
from the entry of the judgment, but soon thereafter dismissed
the appeal. The Final Judgment included the following
provision which is the subject of the pending motion.
Further, with the exception of Stephanie Chinchillo and Julie
Hansen, the Defendants, Joseph Matarese and Medicus Staffing,
LLC are restrained and enjoined from hiring any employees who
have been employed at Barton & Associates, Inc. in their
medical/healthcare business provided that any such restraint
shall not apply if Barton & Associates, Inc., on or before
one year from the date hereof hires any current or former
employee of Medicus Staffing, LLC.
did not hire any Medicus employee, and the injunction
therefore became permanent.
maintains that in 2004 it had only 9 employees, all of whom
worked in Salem, New Hampshire, and Barton had only 8
employees. Today, Medicus has approximately 250 employees,
most of whom work in Windham, New Hampshire. It recruits and
places physicians and other health care providers who work in
a broad variety of health care fields. Medicus points out
that Bartonâs corporate offices are in Massachusetts, but,
according to Bartonâs website, it also has offices in
Connecticut, Florida, Texas, New Hampshire (Keene), Arizona,
and Nevada. Industry reports suggest that Barton has between
500 and 1,000 employees.
also avers that the locum tenens staffing business is far
different than it was in 2005, in part, because potential
employees post so much information about themselves and their
experience on-line making recruitment much different.
Nonetheless, a tight labor market has made it difficult for
Medicus to hire additional employees.
explains that a former employee of Barton, who left Barton in
June 2016 to work in other areas (a beauty salon and a
Wholefoods), responded to a Medicus job posting that it
placed on Linkedin for a locum tenens recruiter. It agreed to
hire this candidate effective one year after the date she
left her position with Barton. However, when Barton learned
of this, it filed a complaint for contempt based upon the
provision in the Final Judgment quoted above. This led
Medicus to let this employee go and to file this motion for
relief from the permanent injunction entered in 2005.
60(b), as relevant o the issue presented by this motion,
reads as follows:
On motion and upon such terms as are just, the court may
relieve a party or his legal representative from a final
judgment, order, or proceeding for the following reasons: ...
(5) ... it is no longer equitable that ...