Michael J. Lambert
Phone: 617.897.5637
Fax: 617.439.9363
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Charles M. Waters
Phone: 617.897.5644
Fax: 617.493.9363
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Sheehan Phinney Attorneys Win $350,000 Settlement for a Land Developer in Civil Rights Case

(June 4, 2010, Boston, MA) - Sheehan Phinney Bass + Green PA attorneys Charles M. Waters and Michael J. Lambert successfully won a settlement of $350,000 for a Randolph, MA woman, Barbara Mersal, in a civil rights violation action against Richard Goodhue, a Town of Randolph elected official. This case exposed the insidious nature of bullying in the context of municipal government. The lawsuit led to the removal of the official from his position.

By threats and intimidation, Goodhue unlawfully interfered with Mersal's legal right as a landowner and resident of the Town of Randolph to review and obtain public documents, submit a subdivision plan to the Planning Board, receive a fair public hearing and develop and enjoy her property.

At the time, Goodhue was the Chairman of the Town of Randolph's Planning Board. Mersal is a long-time Randolph resident who, like many other Town residents before her with similar properties, sought to subdivide her property into two lots. Prior to ruling on Mersal's definitive subdivision plan, Goodhue, who did not know Mersal previously, learned that Mersal (a Caucasian woman) lived at her home in Randolph with a black man and with her two children from a previous racially-mixed marriage. Acting on his own racist and sexist beliefs, Goodhue unlawfully bullied, intimidated and threatened Mersal so as to interfere with her efforts to subdivide her property. He improperly persuaded other Planning Board members outside of public hearing to deny Mersal's plan — a decision entirely pre-textual in nature and disparate from the manner in which the Planning Board treated other similarly-situated applicants.

Goodhue's Town Hall colleagues witnessed firsthand his efforts to threaten and intimidate Mersal. They testified under oath that Goodhue openly called Mersal obscene misogynistic slurs to other Town officials in Town Hall. Town officials have also testified under oath that Goodhue routinely refers to blacks using racial epithets — whether they were applicants who came before the Randolph Planning Board or other Town officials

The case settled two weeks before trial was to commence. The Town of Randolph paid Mersal $350,000.

Waters has a significant litigation practice, including civil rights violation cases, disputes involving breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, business torts, unfair and deceptive trade practices, trade secrets, non-competition agreements, partnerships and closed corporations, and other commercial disputes. Since 2005, Law and Politics Magazine named Waters a New England Super Lawyer in the area of business litigation. He has won multiple million dollar trial awards, including one of the largest trial awards ($2.43 million) in Massachusetts in 2006. His trial successes have garnered attention by both local and national media. Waters serves as a panelist for the Massachusetts Bar Association pertaining to litigation and trial issues, and has published article on various litigation topics. Waters is admitted to practice in Massachusetts and the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts and is a member of the Boston and Massachusetts Bar Associations. He has also been admitted pro hac vice in Michigan, New Hampshire and New York.

Lambert represents clients in a wide range of complex commercial litigation matters. He has tried cases involving issues of corporate governance, partnership disputes, trade secrets and restrictive covenants, closely held business disputes, corporate mergers and dissolutions, construction disputes, insurance coverage disputes, and a wide variety of contract disputes. Lambert was recognized by his peers as one New Hampshire's "Rising Stars" in the area of Insurance Law in a 2004 poll conducted by New Hampshire Magazine. He has an active practice in both New Hampshire and Massachusetts and holds membership in the New Hampshire Trial Lawyers Association, the New Hampshire and Manchester Bar Associations and the Massachusetts Bar Association.

Sheehan Phinney is a full service law firm representing national and international clients with innovative approaches and practical solutions. Founded in 1937, the firm has grown to 63 attorneys with four offices throughout New Hampshire and Massachusetts. The firm is known for professional excellence, practical counsel and commitment to both its clients and the communities it serves.