Benjamin M. McGovern is an attorney in Holland & Knight's Boston office and a member of the firm's Litigation Section. Mr. McGovern is an experienced trial attorney who focuses his practice primarily on high-stakes litigation involving trusts, estates and other fiduciary disputes.
Mr. McGovern represents financial institutions, individuals, families and charities in a broad variety of matters, including will and trust contests, trustee removal actions, trust interpretation actions and fiduciary disputes arising in both the trust and close corporation context. He also has substantial experience handling other types of complex business litigations and class actions, including noncompetition and trade secret matters, employee wage and hour disputes, defense of employee claims for discrimination and wrongful termination, education-related litigation involving student discipline and sexual misconduct, healthcare insurance fraud, and the defense of claims brought under the False Claims and Fair Debt Collection Practices Acts.
Mr. McGovern has significant experience in all phases of litigation. He has tried cases in federal and state courts, and has argued appeals before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit and the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. He has defended clients in both single-party and class arbitration matters, and frequently represents clients in the negotiated resolution or mediation of complex multiparty disputes.
Prior to joining Holland & Knight, Mr. McGovern served as a judicial clerk for the Honorable Justice Joseph A. Grasso Jr. of the Massachusetts Appeals Court.
While attending law school, Mr. McGovern was elected executive editor of the Boston College Environmental Affairs Law Review, and authored an article that was cited by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in Commonwealth v. Clemmey, 447 Mass. 121 (2006).
- Defended co-trustees in removal and trust interpretation actions arising from dispute over administration of family trusts holding assets in excess of $600 million
- Defended trustee against claims for breach of fiduciary duty action alleging claims in excess of $100 million in damage to family trust; served as a member of trial team in bench trial before Delaware Court of Chancery and subsequent appeal to Delaware Supreme Court
- Represented a minority owner of limited liability company (LLC) asserting corporate freeze-out and breach of fiduciary claims against controlling owners in connection with $14 million buy-out of minority stake
- Defended a national financial institution in breach of fiduciary duty action alleging misadministration of multimillion-dollar family trust
- Represented a national charitable institution as beneficiary in will/trust contest involving an estate worth in excess of $5 million
- Defended closely held LLC and majority owner against corporate freeze-out claims asserted by minority owner alleging millions of dollars in lost income after termination of employment
- Obtained an advantageous settlement for a residuary beneficiary mistakenly omitted from class of beneficiaries permitted to receive residue of trust corpus
- Served as lead appellate counsel in successful appeal before Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) to reverse permanent injunction entered against client to enjoin hiring of competitor's employees; in unanimous 41-page ruling, SJC ruled that trial court abused its discretion by entering injunction absent a finding that monetary damages would provide inadequate relief, and also resolved issues of first impression under Massachusetts employment law regarding authority of courts to extend term of restrictive covenants through equitable relief and critical distinctions between covenants arising in "employee/employer" versus "sale of a business" context
- Served as lead appellate counsel in successful appeal before Massachusetts Appeals Court to affirm dismissal of time-barred claims asserted against college for tortious interference with rental business of local landlord
- Served as lead appellate counsel in successful appeal before U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit to summarily affirm dismissal of copyright infringement claims asserted against national publisher
- Served as lead appellate counsel in successful pro bono appeal before U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit to revive Section 1983 civil rights claim brought by incarcerated prisoner alleging deliberate indifference to bodily injuries inflicted by prison guards
- Represented healthcare insurance plans in a successful defense against a single-justice appeal in the Massachusetts Appeals Court by a service provider seeking to enjoin termination from an insurance network
- Served as lead trial counsel in bench trial before Business Litigation Session in Massachusetts Suffolk Superior Court to defend group of automobile dealerships against claims for breach of restrictive employment covenant; obtained ruling denying competitor's request to enjoin client's continued employment of key personnel
- Served as co-lead trial counsel in jury trial before U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia to defend global instrument company against claims for false advertising and unfair competition under the Lanham Act
- Served as lead pro bono trial counsel in jury trial before U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts on behalf of incarcerated prisoner alleging deliberate indifference to bodily injuries inflicted by prison guards; obtained $550,000 jury verdict after one-week trial
- Served as trial counsel in jury trial before U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts defending global logistics and express delivery company in a personal injury action related to the movement of cargo containers at Boston Logan International Airport; obtained complete defense verdict after one-week trial
- Served as trial counsel in a bench trial conducted in Fiduciary Litigation Session of Massachusetts Family and Probate Court on behalf of a charitable institution wrongfully removed from the trust instrument by the successor trustee after the death of the donor; obtained post-trial finding that the removal represented breach of the trustee's fiduciary duty
- Represented the Atlantic Coast Conference in lawsuits brought in North Carolina and Maryland arising from a former member's refusal to pay $52 million withdrawal payment upon move to the Big Ten Conference; obtained dismissal of antitrust claims alleged in Maryland action on motion to dismiss and subsequently obtained favorable settlement of the North Carolina action through mediation
- Represented healthcare insurance plans asserting claims against an in-network service provider for billing fraud and assisted plans in defending against the service provider's efforts to enjoin its removal from the insurance network
- Defended a national trade association in an antitrust lawsuit alleging industry-wide conspiracy to suppress innovation in market for polystyrene recycling; successfully obtained summary judgment dismissing all claims in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts and affirmance of that ruling in U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
- Defended Fortune 500 company against claims for reimbursement of defense costs asserted by insurance insolvency fund in U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts; obtained complete dismissal of all claims on motion for summary judgment
- Defended a national long-term care pharmacy in federal qui tam action alleging claims in excess of $1 billion arising from alleged unlawful promotion of drug
- Defended a national debt collection company in numerous putative class actions alleging Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) violations, as well as appeal raising issues of first impression regarding licensure for passive debt collectors in Commonwealth of Massachusetts
- Boston College Law School, J.D.
- Duke University, B.A.
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
- U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts
- Boston Bar Association
- Holland & Knight Pro Bono All-Star, 2021
- Massachusetts Super Lawyers magazine, 2013-2015
- Rising Star, Massachusetts Super Lawyers magazine, 2010