March 2009

First Circuit Weighs in on the Law of Unjust Enrichment in Massachusetts

The terms “unjust enrichment,” “restitution,” “quasi-contract” and “constructive trust” cause the average lawyer to recoil with apprehension (although she doesn’t show it, of course). We were forced to grapple with some of these ancient legal concepts in law school, but we quickly migrated to more modern legal principles, and although we may have remembered the terms (any lawyer worth his salt can throw around the terms unjust enrichment and restitution), the depth of knowledge of most lawyers on these topics is shallow at best. We were relieved when we could move on to things like the Uniform Commercial Code, which dates back only to the early 1950’s.

In fact, it’s easy to trace “unjust enrichment” and related terms back as far as the 1600s, and earlier. A search on Google Book Search reveals a volume titled “Unjust Enrichment in England before 1600.” References to Roman Law are also not difficult to find.… Read the full article

It’s perfectly monstrous the way people go about nowadays saying things against one, behind one’s back, that are absolutely true”

Oscar Wilde

“Gossip needn’t be false to be evil – there’s a lot of truth that shouldn’t be passed around.”

Frank A Clark

“The defendant in an action for writing or for publishing a libel may introduce in evidence the truth of the matter contained in the publication charged as libellous; and the truth shall be a justification unless actual malice is proved”

Entire text of Mass. Generals Laws, Chapter 231, Section 92, enacted in 1902

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“The truth is an absolute defense to a claim of defamation.”  This is something that all lawyers know, and we have told this to clients countless times.  However, we will have to temper this advice following a recent decision from the  First Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.  The case, for reasons that should be apparent, is attracting a lot of attention.… Read the full article