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Smith Duggan Prevails Before Supreme Judicial Court for Stanley Black & Decker, Inc.

In a matter of first impression, Smith Duggan convinced the Supreme Judicial Court that Stanley did not assign its rights to a performance bond in a series of contracts concerning an environmental remediation project.  The case arose from a complicated set of circumstances in which Stanley sold real estate in Worcester, Massachusetts to an environmental remediation company.  After the remediation company went bankrupt, Stanley turned to an insurance company that issued a performance bond to remediate Stanley’s property.  When the insurer went into liquidation, Stanley and its neighbor entered into contracts to jointly clean up their properties.  Years later, a successor to Stanley’s neighbor filed a lawsuit in an attempt to take the settlement proceeds Stanley recovered from the liquidated insurer after Stanley’s property was cleaned.

After a federal court judge interpreted Massachusetts law to deprive Stanley of its settlement proceeds, the judge requested guidance on the state law by certifying a question of law to the SJC.  Through compelling briefs and oral argument, Chris Duggan, Gerard Butler, Reed Witherby, and Andrew Black persuaded the SJC to interpret Massachusetts law so that Stanley could keep its settlement.  Smith Duggan’s effective advocacy influenced the SJC’s opinion that clarified public policy on the interpretation of contracts concerning security interests.

A.J. Properties, LLC v. Stanley Black & Decker, Inc., SJC-11424