Suffolk Superior Court Judge Thomas E. Connolly ordered the class-action firm Berman, Devalerio & Pease, LLP, et al (BD&P) to pay Richard J. Vita $1.6 million in damages for improperly trying to prevent Vita, a Boston lawyer, from collecting a referral fee in a securities suit filed against Phillip Services Corp.
After finding the firm’s conduct was "knowing or willful," Connolly held that "BD&P must pay Vita double damages plus costs and attorneys’ fees under Chapter 93A, §11."
The judge issued his ruling after presiding over a three-week trial in which a jury concluded the firm had "breached an oral agreement to pay Vita 10 percent of the $10 million-plus it had secured for itself in counsel fees."
Vita’s attorney, Prince Lobel Partner Joseph D. Steinfield noted that the facts of the case were "quite unusual," and that "nobody really knew how a jury was going to respond to a case in which all the parties are lawyers and this much money is at stake."
Click here to read the article in Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly.