Superior Court of Massachusetts, Suffolk, Business Litigation Session
Date: September 11, 2018
A. Davis, Associate Justice of the Superior Court
is a dispute between former partners in the law firm of
Conway, Homer and Chin-Caplan, P.C. The case was filed in
June 2017. Plaintiff Sylvia Chin-Caplan
("Plaintiff") claims that she was forced from the
partnership by defendants Kevin Conway and Ronald Homer
(collectively, with defendant Conway Homer, P.C.,
"Defendants") so that they would not have to share
certain fee awards with her. Defendants deny Plaintiffâs
allegations. Discovery is ongoing.
matter came before the Court most recently on Plaintiffâs
motion to compel supplemental written discovery responses
from Defendants, and Defendantsâ cross motion to compel one
supplemental discovery response from Plaintiff. Many of
Plaintiffâs discovery grievances have to do with Defendantsâ
decision not to produce documents or information predating
January 1, 2013, based on Defendantsâ assertion that all of
Plaintiffâs claims are subject to a three-year limitations
period. Defendants, in turn, complain that Plaintiff has
failed to quantify her damages despite being asked to do so
in Defendantsâ Interrogatory No. 5. No hearing has been
requested by either side on either motion.
Court has reviewed the partiesâ motion papers. In light of
those submissions, Plaintiffâs motion to compel is
ALLOWED IN PART, and Defendantsâ cross motion to
compel is ALLOWED IN PART, for the reasons, and to
the extent, described below.
Plaintiffâs discovery requests, the Court does not agree that
the statute of limitations with respect to all of Plaintiffâs
claims is, at best, three years. Plaintiff has asserted a
claim for unjust enrichment/quantum meruit. See Complaint
(Docket Entry No. 1.0), Count II. Quantum meruit is a
"quasi-contract" theory that seeks to avoid
"unjust enrichment of one party and unjust detriment to
the other party." Salamon v. Terra, 394 Mass.
857, 859 (1985) (internal quotation marks and citation
omitted). See also Cantell v. Hill Holliday Connors
Cosmopulos, Inc., 55 Mass.App.Ct. 550, 554 n.6 (2002)
(recovery in quantum meruit is based on a "contract
implied in law ..."). Massachusetts law provides that
"[a]ctions of contract ... found upon contracts or
liabilities, express or implied, ... shall ... be
commenced only within six years next after the cause
of action accrues." G.L.c. 260, § 2 (emphasis
added). Thus, Plaintiffâs right of recovery in this action
potentially extends as far back as June 2011 (i.e., six years
prior to the commencement of this action). Plaintiff has not
demonstrated, however, any reason to extend the relevant time
period for discovery to an even earlier date.
Court also disagrees with Defendantsâ positions as to the
relevance and onerousness of various discovery requests
propounded by Plaintiff. In almost every instance,
Plaintiffâs discovery requests, reasonably construed, seek
information that is, at the very least, "reasonably
calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible
evidence." See Mass.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1).
Defendantsâ Interrogatory No. 5, it is fair and reasonable
for Defendants to request that Plaintiff itemize and quantify
her alleged damages. It also is fair and reasonable, however,
for Plaintiff to defer responding to any such request until
she has had an adequate opportunity to conduct her own
discovery and determine the extent of her losses, if any.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED THAT Defendants shall prepare
and serve, within twenty (20) days of the date of this Order,
supplemental, substantive response to Plaintiffâs
Interrogatory No. 26 extending back to June 1, 2011;
Supplemental responses to Plaintiffâs Document Request Nos.
1, 4, 18, and 25 extending back to June 1, 2011, and
encompassing, among other things, any and all responsive
documents beyond the Firmâs tax returns; and
Legible copies of all non-privileged documents within
Defendantsâ current possession, custody, or control that are
reasonably responsive to Document Request Nos. 1, 4, 18, and
25, as supplemented.
HEREBY FURTHER ORDERED THAT Plaintiff shall prepare and
serve, on or before December 1, 2018, a supplemental,
substantive response to Defendantsâ Interrogatory No. 5 that
itemizes and quantifies ...