Our Attorneys

John J. Davis Attorney photo

John J. Davis


John J. Davis is a Partner with Pierce Davis & Perritano LLP.

He is head of the firm’s Governmental Liability and Civil Rights Practice Group.

His primary practice focuses on the defense of cities, towns, and other public employers in suits alleging civil rights violations, discrimination, harassment, negligence, and educators’ and school board liability.

Mr. Davis has successfully defended police officers sued for wrongful death and civil rights violations in connection with fatal shootings, high speed pursuits, and suicides by pre-trial detainees; school officials accused of harassment; sexual assault or unlawful discipline of students; and other public officials against allegations of defamation, abuse of process, unlawful license revocation, and wrongful termination.

Mr. Davis also serves as an independent investigator into complaints of harassment and discrimination in the workplace and Title IX violations. He has completed MCAD certified training in conducting internal discrimination complaint investigations and holds the ATIXA Civil Rights Investigator Level Two certification.

Case Highlights:

  • In 1999, Mr. Davis defended the Town of Dartmouth in the landmark school safety case of Brum v. Town of Dartmouth, 428 Mass. 684, where the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that a public school could not be held liable, either in tort or under various civil rights theories, for the unforeseen classroom stabbing death of a sixteen-year old high school student.
  • In 2008, Mr. Davis represented the Town of Lexington and Lexington school officials in Parker v. Hurley, 514 F. 3d 87 (1st Cir.), cert. den., 555 U.S. 815 (2008), the first case in the country in which a court upheld the right of public school officials to use same-sex teaching materials in the classroom.

Besides his primary practice areas, Mr. Davis also has significant litigation and trial experience in insurance coverage, sexual abuse and molestation, premises liability, and negligent security. He frequently appears in all Massachusetts courts, in the United States District Courts, and before the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination. Mr. Davis is also licensed to practice law in Rhode Island.

Mr. Davis has been practicing in Boston since 1981. In 1998, he joined in co-founding Pierce Davis & Perritano LLP.

AV 2018

Representative Matters:

  • Furtado v. Town of Falmouth, 101 Mass. App. Ct. 1108 (2022)
  • Hayes v. Town of Dalton, __ F. Supp. 3d __, 2022 WL 488466 (D. Mass. Feb. 17, 2022)
  • 3137, LLC v. Town of Harwich, __ F. Supp. 3d __, 2022 WL 267435 (D. Mass. Jan. 28, 2022)
  • Doe v. Dennis-Yarmouth Regional School District, __ F. Supp. 3d __, 2022 WL 36480 (D. Mass. Jan. 4, 2022)
  • Robinson v. Town of Marshfield, 950 F.3d 21 (1st Cir. 2020)
  • Johnson v. Duxbury, 931 F.3d 102 (1st Cir. 2019)
  • Burke v. Building Inspector of Town of Dennis, 94 Mass. App. Ct. 1110 (2018)
  • Comley v. Town of Rowley, 296 F. Supp. 3d 327 (D. Mass. 2017)
  • Venkataraman v. Graniteville Woods, LLC, 91 Mass. App. Ct. 1131 (2017)
  • Loreti v. Tulimieri, 60 N.E.3d 1197 (Mass. App. Ct. 2016)
  • Najas Realty, LLC v Seekonk Water Dist.,  821 F. 3d 134 (1st Cir. 2016)
  • Lakeland Harbor SPE LLC v. Town of Rockland Rent Control Bd., 2010 WL 1223602 (D Mass.)
  • Doe v. City of Fitchburg, 76 Mass. App. Ct. 1106 (2010)
  • Anderson v. City of Gloucester, 75 Mass. App. Ct. 429, rev. den., 455 Mass. 1105 (2009)
  • Jones v. Maloney, 74 Mass. App. Ct. 745 (2009)
  • Comley v. Town of Rowley, 74 Mass. App. Ct. 1122, rev.den., 455 Mass. 1101 (2009)
  • King v. Rivas, 555 F.3d 14 (1st Cir. 2009)
  • McCarter v. Bi-County Collaborative, Inc., 73 Mass. App. Ct. 1115, rev.den., 453 Mass. 1108 (2009)
  • Anzalone v. Town of Middleton, 73 Mass. App. Ct. 1105 (2008)
  • Parker v. Hurley, 514 F.3d 87 (1st Cir.), cert. den., 555 U.S. 815 (2008)
  • Martins v. Town of Rockland, 66 Mass. App. Ct. 1118 (2006)
  • LaSota v. Town of Merrimac, 65 Mass. App. Ct. 1110 (2005), rev. den., 446 Mass. 1104 (2006)
  • Abington Transfer Station, LLC v. Board of Health of Abington, 64 Mass. App. Ct. 1111 (2005)
  • Carlson v. Town of Ipswich, 61 Mass. App. Ct. 1112 (2004)
  • Jones v. Town of Sharon, 58 Mass. App. Ct. 1106 (2003)
  • Demers v. Leominster School Department, 263 F. Supp. 2d 195 (D. Mass. 2003)
  • Serrell v. Franklin County, 47 Mass. App. Ct. 400 (1999)
  • Brum v. Town of Dartmouth, 428 Mass. 684 (1999)
  • Brayton v. Monson Public Schools, 950 F. Supp. 33 (D. Mass. 1997)
  • Aubuchon v. Commonwealth, 933 F. Supp. 90 (D. Mass. 1996)
  • Armstrong v. Lamy, 938 F. Supp. 1018 (D. Mass. 1996)
  • Canney v. City of Chelsea, 925 F. Supp. 58 (D. Mass. 1996)
  • Carista v. Berkshire Mutual Ins. Co., 394 Mass. 1009 (1985)

Awards & Honors:

  • Martindale-Hubbell National Law Directory, AV® Preeminent Peer Review Rating
  • Selected to The Best Lawyers in America© list in Employment Law – Management, 2016 – 2021
  • Selected to Massachusetts Super Lawyers List, 2017-2020

Speaking Engagements:

  • On August 12, 2020, Mr. Davis will participate in a panel discussion at the MCLE 20th Annual School Law Conference on the topic “Preventing and Responding to Harassment in the #MeToo Era”
  • On September 9, 2020, Mr. Davis will speak at the 18th Annual MCLE-MMLA Municipal Law Conference on the topic “Employment Law Update – Handling the Rogue Official”
  • 2018 MIIA Fall Conference, “Boundaries in an Electronic Age: Social Media in the Municipal Workplace,” Speaker (October 30, 2018)
  • 2018 Regional MIIA Conference, “Legal Liability Arising from the use of Social Media by Municipalities and Public Schools, ” Speaker (April 10, 2018)
  • 16th Annual MCLE-MMLA Municipal Law Conference, “Hot Topics in Employment Law,” Speaker (March 7, 2018)
  • National Business Institute’s School Law: Social Media and Apps, Cyberbullying, Privacy and Other Technology Issues Seminar, “Cyberbullying and Threats: School Authority and Liability,” Speaker (February 2, 2018)
  • MIIA Risk Management Booth – Municipal Quick Talks at the MMA Annual Meeting and Trade Show, “The Limits of Local Zoning: Protecting Religious and Educational Uses,” Speaker (January 19, 2018)
  • 2017 SNEAPA Conference, “From Dudley to DC: Religion, Land Use, Planning, and the Courts,” Panelist (October 26, 2017)
  • 2017 MMLA Annual Meeting & Conference, “Employment Discrimination – Defending the Municipal Client,” Speaker (September 15, 2017)
  • 15th Annual MCLE-MMLA Municipal Law Conference, “Hot Topics in Employment Law,” Speaker (March 15, 2017)
  • National Business Institute Conference, “Special Education Law: The Ultimate Guide,” Panelist (May 17, 2016)
  • 2016 Mid-Year Seminar of the International Municipal Lawyers Association, “Issues in Municipal Insurance: Minding the Gaps,” Panelist (April 16, 2016)
  • 14th Annual MCLE Municipal Law Conference, “Hot Topics in Employment Law,” Speaker (March 16, 2016)
  • 2015 Mid-Year Seminar of the International Municipal Lawyers Association, “The Ethical Litigator,” Panelist (April 27, 2015)
  • 13th Annual MCLE Municipal Law Conference, “Hot Topics in Employment Law,” Panelist (March 18, 2015)
  • MCLE Seminar, “Chapter 258, the Massachusetts Tort Claims Act, Section 10 Immunities and The Recreational Use Statute,” Speaker (October 20, 2014)
  • 79th Annual Conference of the International Municipal Lawyers Association,”When the Defense is Offered Under a Reservation of Rights,” Panelist (September 5, 2014)
  • Massachusetts Municipal Lawyers Association Seminar, “Chapter 84: The Public Way Defect Statute and Massachusetts Public Accommodation Statute,” Speaker (August 7, 2014)
  • National Business Institute Conference, “Disciplining Students with Behavioral Issues,” Speaker (June 3, 2014)
  • 12th Annual MCLE Municipal Law Conference, “Employment and Labor Law – Hot Topics in the Municipal Field,” Speaker (March 12, 2014)
  • MCLE Seminar, “Chapter 258, the Massachusetts Tort Claims Act, Section 10 Immunities,” Speaker (November 20, 2013)
  • Massachusetts Municipal Lawyers Association Law Program, “Wind Turbines: A Case Study,” Speaker (August 8, 2013)
  • National Business Institute Conference, “Lawfully Managing Student Records Without Violating Privacy Rights,” Speaker (June 11, 2013)
  • 2013 Mid-Year Seminar of the International Municipal Lawyers Association, “Insurance Coverage for Municipalities and Municipal Officials,” Presenter (April 16, 2013)
  • 11th Annual MCLE Municipal Law Conference, “Personnel Law,” Panelist (March 13, 2013)
  • 2013 Annual Conference of the New England Plumbing, Gas & Mechanical Inspectors Association, “Inspectors’ Liability,” Co-presenter (January 22, 2013)
  • 2012 Annual Conference of the Massachusetts City Solicitors and Town Counsel Association, “Federal Court Practice for the Municipal Lawyer,” Panelist (September 28, 2012)
  • 10th Annual MCLE Municipal Law Conference, “First Amendment Retaliation: The Public Employer’s Perspective,” Speaker (March 14, 2012)
  • National Business Institute Conference, “Student Privacy: The Top Hot Button Legal Issues,” Speaker (October 4, 2011)


Association Memberships:

  • Massachusetts Bar Association
  • Rhode Island Bar Association
  • Massachusetts Municipal Lawyers Association
  • International Municipal Lawyers Association


Boston University School of Law, J.D., 1981

Tufts University, B.A., cum laude, 1978

Bar & Court Admissions

Commonwealth of Massachusetts (1981)

State of Rhode Island (1992)

U.S. District Court, District of Massachusetts (1982)

U.S. District Court, District of Rhode Island (2009)

U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit (1982)

Supreme Court of the United States (2008)