Governo Law Firm, LLC v. CMGB3 Law, LLC, 091319 MASUP, 1684CV03949BLS2

Docket Nº:1684CV03949BLS2
Opinion Judge:Kenneth W. Salinger, Justice of the Superior Court
Party Name:GOVERNO LAW FIRM, LLC v. CMGB3 LAW, LLC et al.[1]
Case Date:September 13, 2019
Court:Superior Court of Massachusetts



CMGB3 LAW, LLC et al.1

No. 1684CV03949BLS2

Superior Court of Massachusetts, Suffolk

September 13, 2019


Kenneth W. Salinger, Justice of the Superior Court

The Governo Law Firm, LLC brought suit alleging that six of its former partners and their new law firm (which they call CMBG3 Law, LLC) took and used copies of electronic files and databases that belong to the Governo Firm. A jury returned a verdict in the Governo Firm’s favor on some but not all of its claims. The jury found that Defendants converted documents or files that belong to the Governo Law Firm, and that the six individual Defendants each breached their duty of loyalty by misusing confidential information that belongs to the Governo Firm. It awarded $900, 000 in compensatory damages.

The Governo Firm has filed three postjudgment motions. First, it seeks a permanent injunction requiring Defendants to delete electronic materials they took with them. The Court will enter an injunction that is somewhat narrower in scope than requested. Second, the Governo Firm seeks to tie up some of Defendants’ assets. The Court will order the parties to meet, confer, and attempt to reach agreement regarding appropriate postjudgment security. Third, the Governo Firm has also moved to amend the judgment to add an award of $65, 609.94 in costs. The Court finds that the amount requested by the Governo Firm is excessive. For the reasons discussed below, it will award $15, 937.23 in costs.

1. Deletion of Files

In its motion for a permanent injunction, the Governo Firm asks the Court to order Defendants to delete all files they took from the Governo Firm as well as any documents or information derived from those files, if they exist, and to hire the Governo Firm’s computer forensic consultant to oversee this deletion process.

The Court agrees that, as a partial remedy for these torts, the Governo Firm is entitled to a permanent injunction that bars Defendants from using, and requires them by September 30, 2019, to permanently delete, any part of the so-called 8500 New Asbestos Litigation files or any other database that was copied and taken from the Governo Firm, except for any materials that the Governo Firm transferred to Defendants or their clients after November 20, 2016. But the Court sees no need to grant the other injunctive relief sought by the Governo Firm.

Defendants’ argument that they should not be required to delete any materials, because some of them may turn out to be client file materials that belong to Defendants’ clients, is unavailing. By allowing Defendants to keep any materials transferred to them after November 20, 2016, the Court is permitting them to keep everything that the parties now agree constitute client file materials belonging to clients now represented by the Defendants. Defendants have made no showing in their opposition to this motion that any of the other materials they took from the Governo Firm belong to Defendants’ clients. Although the Governo Firm remains under an ethical obligation to provide former clients with complete copies of all of their client file materials, Defendants were and are not entitled to engage in self-help by taking with them or holding onto materials just in case they later turn out to belong to a client that decides to retain Defendants to represent them. Doing so is what led to the jury verdict against Defendants in this case.

Defendants mistakenly assert that in prior rulings the Court observed that the jury necessarily determined that some of the electronic files...

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