Attorney James C. Wood successfully obtained the denial of a motion to disclose his client’s personal assets in a wrongful death action filed in Middlesex Superior Court.
The plaintiff decedent was crossing a street in Stoneham, Massachusetts, when he was struck and fatally injured by the 92-year old defendant motorist. The plaintiff pedestrian’s estate brought an action against the defendant driver and filed a Motion for Pre-Judgment Order to Disclose and Preserve Personal Assets of the defendant driver. Plaintiff counsel argued that there was a likelihood of an excess judgment over and above the applicable motor vehicle policy limits and also an immediate danger of defendant’s assets being fraudulently conveyed and/or depleted before the plaintiff could secure a judgment against the defendant. In support of her argument, plaintiff counsel signed an affidavit in which she referenced a telephone conversation with defendant’s personal attorney in which personal counsel stated the defendant does have assets, but he was unwilling to voluntarily reveal the nature or location of said assets.
Attorney Wood opposed plaintiff’s motion on the grounds that the plaintiff had no legal or factual support for the motion, that the affidavit relied upon unsubstantiated hearsay and that there was no support for a finding of any intent of fraudulent conveyance by the defendant. Further, Attorney Wood argued that the plaintiff was not entitled to discovery regarding plaintiff’s assets prior to the issuance of any judgment and, as a result, the court lacked any authority to grant the motion to disclose and preserve assets. Lastly, Attorney Wood argued that the defendant would suffer irreparable harm should she be required to disclose her assets at the pre-judgment stage of the case.
Middlesex Superior Court Judge Jon T. Lu denied plaintiff’s motion to disclose and preserve the defendant driver’s assets.