Gordon & Rees Boston team, led by partner Jay Gregory, with assistance from senior counsel Meghan McNamara and associate Andrea Kraemer, recently won a week-long jury trial in an employment case for the firm's client, a retired contractor and a significant investor and a member of the Board of Managers for Plymouth Rock Studios, LLC.
The plaintiff was an employee at Plymouth Rock Studios, LLC – a now defunct venture that attempted to create a Hollywood style, $500 million movie studio and technology campus on the east coast. Unfortunately, Plymouth Rock could not realize its vision given the combination of the 2008 recession and a fraudulent international financier that bilked the company out of $3.5 million.
The plaintiff sued Plymouth Rock under the Massachusetts Wage Act to collect unpaid wages of $161,000. The Act provides automatic recovery of treble damages and legal fees to successful plaintiffs. The Act also allows plaintiffs to sue officers and members of the Board of Managers in addition to the corporate employer. To be liable under the Act an individual defendant has to have “controlled, directed, and participated to a substantial degree in determining and formulating the policy of the company.”
Before trial the plaintiff obtained summary judgment against the corporate employer and its CEO (formerly the CFO for the Boston Celtics). In addition, three other co-defendant board members settled out with the plaintiff paying her $255,000 leaving Gordon & Rees's client as the sole defendant.
The plaintiff attempted to establish liability for the firm's client by showing that he participated in Board of Manager meetings, was aware of unpaid employee wages, and participated in decisions to pay third parties rather than pay employee wages. The jury deliberated for less than two hours before delivering a favorable defense verdict.