Suffolk County Superior Court Renders Judgement
A Suffolk County Superior Court judge recently ruled that Massachusetts law applies to a consumer protection claim filed by a New York plaintiff against insurance company defendants that were incorporated in or regularly conducted business in Massachusetts. The defendants argued that New York law governed the entire action brought by the New York resident plaintiff. While there was no material difference between New York and Massachusetts law as to most of the plaintiff's claims, application of New York law would have effectively eliminated the consumer protection claim. After noting that,
"[w]hether a c. 93A claim is more contract-like or tort-like determines what choice of law rules apply," the judge held that the plaintiff's 93A claim was more analogous to a tort claim than a breach of contract claim. The judge's holding was based upon a determination that the plaintiff's lawsuit did not concern the validity of an insurance policy, but rather the defendants' conduct in determining the amount it must pay under the policy."
In turning to the application of the choice-of-law rule for tort claims, the judge concluded that Massachusetts has the most significant relationship to the occurrence and the parties. The judge reasoned that, "in a case involving or having aspects of a claim of fraud or misrepresentation, the place where the defendant engaged in the alleged misconduct will have much more weight in deciding which jurisdiction's law should govern." Since the judge found that the defendants" received, evaluated, and acted on [the plaintiff's] disability claim and appeals" in Massachusetts, he could pursue a remedy under the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Act (Chapter 93A).
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