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SJC Ruling May Make Jury Consultants A “Luxury” Plaintiffs Can’t Afford

In Sullivan v. Five Acres Realty Trust et al., the Massachusetts SJC ruled that jury consultant fees are not recoverable as “costs” under the provisions of the state’s consumer protection statute, G.L. c. 93A. After prevailing on a c. 93A claim, the plaintiffs sought to recover over $100,000 in charges from the consultant, who provided a host of services, including conducting a mock voir dire and jury trial, preparing a report about the jury pool, and assisting throughout the trial. They argued that the jury consultant’s fees fell within the broad scope of G.L. c. 93A’s language, which allows prevailing plaintiffs to recover reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs incurred in the litigation. Even though it had already overturned the verdict on other grounds, the SJC went out of its way to reject the plaintiffs’ argument, distinguishing between reasonable litigation expenses that are typically recoverable under G.L. c. 93A, such as attorneys’ fees and expert witness fees, and the jury consultant fees, which the SJC described as a “luxury service” that is not reimbursable under the statute. The ruling may cause plaintiffs to think twice about hiring jury consultants, knowing that they will have to foot the bill themselves, win or lose.

If you have any questions about this decision or its implications, please do not hesitate to contact Michael J. Mazurczak or contact our firm for more information.