Sheehan Phinney Attorneys Win Important Decision

(April 11, 2012, Boston, MA) – Sheehan Phinney Bass + Green PA attorneys Charles M. Waters and Patrick J. Hannon recently won an important decision before the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in a matter of first impression regarding claims based upon misrepresentations made by insurance agents.

In Passatempo v. McMenimen et als., SJC-10978 (Jan. 12, 2012), the SJC affirmed the trial court’s findings that plaintiffs’ life insurance agent willfully violated the Massachusetts’ Consumer Protection Statute (G.L. c. 93A) by misrepresenting the terms of a life insurance policy sold to plaintiffs, thereby making him liable for triple damages, attorney’s fees and costs. Furthermore, in the first Massachusetts appellate decision interpreting G.L. c. 175 s. 181, the SJC reversed the trial court’s dismissal of plaintiffs’ c. 93A claim against the agent’s employer, Nationwide Life Insurance Company of America. In doing so, the SJC adopted the SPBG attorneys’ argument that G.L. c. 175 s. 181 – which provides that customers may obtain rescission of life insurance contracts procured through misrepresentations – does not prevent customers from pursuing other civil remedies against insurance companies based upon misrepresentations made by their agents. Accordingly, the SJC held that plaintiffs’ were entitled to pursue their c. 93A claim directly against Nationwide, and sent the case back to the trial court to consider the merits of that claim.

Waters has a significant litigation practice, including life insurance and securities fraud 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 has 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.

Hannon is an experienced trial attorney representing businesses and individuals in a broad range of litigation matters, including business, tax, construction, labor and probate disputes. In addition to his litigation practice, Patrick also provides advice to businesses and individuals concerning potential disputes with the Internal Revenue Service. Prior to joining the firm, Hannon served as a Trial Attorney with the United States Department of Justice, Tax Division in Washington, DC. Over his four years with the Justice Department, he litigated hundreds of cases in federal court and tried both bench and jury trials. In 2008, he received an “Outstanding Attorney” award from the Tax Division. Hannon is admitted to practice in Massachusetts and the Massachusetts Federal District Court.