Bellermann v. Fitchburg Gas & Elec. Light Co.Annotate this Case
Plaintiffs, twelve residential and business customers of Defendant Fitchburg Gas and Electric Light Company who lost power during a major ice storm, filed suit on behalf of themselves and those similarly situated, asserting claims of gross negligence and violation of Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 93A. Plaintiffs moved to certify a class, and the parties filed cross-motions for partial summary judgment on Plaintiffs’ chapter 93A claims. In their motion for partial summary judgment, Plaintiffs sought issue preclusive effect of findings made by the Department of Public Utilities (DPU) in two previous administrative adjudications related to Defendant’s conduct during the storm. The superior court judge (1) denied Plaintiffs’ motion for class certification; and (2) primarily denied the motions for summary judgment after applying offensive issue preclusion to factual findings made by the DPU. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that the judge did not abuse his discretion in declining to certify a class and in applying issue preclusion to facts found after evidentiary hearings at the DPU.