Sara Decatur Judge

Partner

Boston, MA
D: 617.345.3211

"Motor vehicle dealers often make concessions to avoid conflict with the factory, but no dealer should do so without first knowing their rights under state law. I help dealers resolve their disputes in a way that preserves their rights as well as their ongoing relationship with the manufacturer."

Overview
Bar Admissions

Massachusetts

New Jersey

New York

U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts

U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York

U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York

U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

Education

J.D., Wake Forest University School of Law, 2001

B.A., cum laude, University of Massachusetts Amherst, 1998

Sara Decatur Judge is a business litigation attorney who helps her clients solve problems. She represents businesses and individuals in a variety of industries including the automotive, distributing, and franchise industries. Sara has extensive experience representing clients in a wide range of commercial matters in federal, state and appellate courts. She has handled a variety of commercial disputes, including breach of contract, franchise terminations, product liability, unfair competition, unfair and deceptive trade practices, real estate disputes, wage and hour disputes, and insurance coverage disputes. 

A significant portion of Sara’s practice is devoted to representing motor vehicle dealers in trade regulatory matters throughout Massachusetts and New England. Her dealer clients rely on her for sound advice and counsel with respect to franchise matters, including dealer appointments, dealer protests, dealer relocations, dealer buy/sell agreements, and dealership terminations. Sara also assists dealers with advertising compliance, consumer disputes and programs mandated by the manufacturer, such as mandatory facilities upgrade and image programs. She helps dealers understand their rights under Chapter 93B, which is the dealer protection statute in Massachusetts. 

Sara is also an experienced class action defense attorney. Her experience includes defending businesses against consumer and employment related class action claims.  She routinely counsels her motor vehicle dealer clients on wage and hour issues, including the revision of pay plans and employee classification disputes. She also defends companies during Attorney General investigations and audits.

When it comes to motor vehicle dealership terminations, Sara understands that dealers need to be aggressive to preserve the dealership. Sara uses her extensive business litigation experience to defend dealerships that are pressured unfairly by the manufacturer. She understands the sales performance metrics relied upon by manufacturers in terminations and she helps dealers defend against accusations of poor sales performance. One of the biggest hurdles that dealers face is getting their manufacturer to understand the realities of the local market, which can differ significantly from the manufacturer’s expectations. Sara uses years of experience to advocate on behalf of dealers in a way that helps preserve the dealers’ relationship with the factory going forward.

Sara is an active member of the National Association of Dealers Counsel and an associate member of the Massachusetts State Automobile Dealers Association.

Representative matters:

  • Successfully litigated and obtain judgment in favor of client which allowed client to exercise a right of first refusal to purchase an interest in real property;
  • Won a favorable judgment after multi-day trial defending dealer client’s right to use an easement to unload car carriers;  decision upheld on appeal.
  • Obtained dismissal of a consumer class action lawsuit on behalf of a restaurant client;
  • Obtained dismissal of a consumer class action lawsuit on behalf of a transportation industry client;
  • Successfully represented motor vehicle dealership group in defending against manufacturer termination;
  • Forced manufacturer to allow motor vehicle dealership to relocate despite prior refusal from manufacturer;
  • Successfully negotiated favorable settlement for dealer client in an add point dispute;
  • Negotiated favorable settlement for dealer client in a warranty reimbursement dispute;


Select Reported Cases:

Goodwill Enterprises, Inc. v. Kavanagh, 95 Mass. App. Ct. 856 (2019) (client obtained specific performance of a right of first refusal over leased premises).

In re Corbett, No. 11-13667-JNF, 2018 WL 1229717 (Bankr. D. Mass. Mar. 8, 2018) (enforcing client’s right of first refusal)

In re Corbett, No. 11-13667-JNF, 2018 WL 832885 (Bankr. D. Mass. Feb. 12, 2018) (enforcing client’s right of first refusal)

Leder v. Am. Traffic Sols., Inc., 81 F. Supp. 3d 211 (E.D.N.Y.), aff'd, 630 F. App'x 61 (2d Cir. 2015) (successful dismissal of class action litigation)

Anarpet Realty Corp. v. Stutz Motor Car Co., 88 Mass. App. Ct. 1110 (2015) (defended client’s right to use easement).

Anarpet Realty Corp. v. Licensing Bd. of Salem, 85 Mass. App. Ct. 1109, 5 N.E.3d 3 (2014) (successfully defended the issuance of a Class 1 dealer license to client after challenge by unhappy neighbor).

Memberships

Memberships

National Association of Dealer Counsel

Speaking Engagements

Speaking Engagements

"Trademarks, Trade Dress and Licensing Issues for Dealers," Speaker, National Association of Dealer Counsel 2015 Member Conference, April 2015

Articles & Publications

Articles & Publications

articles

"When the AG's Office Knocks at the Dealer's Door," Massachusetts Auto Dealer Magazine, September 2018

"Contract Challenges with Selling 'Dualed' Auto Dealerships," Automotive Law360, June 2017

"Why 'Side Agreements' with Your Customers Are a Bad Idea," Texas Dealer Magazine, May 2016

"Protecting Honda and Acura Dealers During the Airbag Recall Campaign," Massachusetts Auto Dealer Magazine, February 2016

"Running Credit Reports: How to Keep Your Dealership Out of Trouble," Massachusetts Auto Dealer Magazine, April 2015

"GM Facilities Upgrade Mandate," Burns & Levinson Automotive Dealer Bulletin, March 2011

features

"People Moves of the Week," Mergers & Acquisitions Magazine, March 2014

quotes

"Governor Proposes 'Fix' for Commission-Only Employees," Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly, October 2019

"Expert Unnecessary to Support Lemon Law Claim," Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly, August 2019

"Bankruptcy Sale of Nominee Trust Interest Triggers Right of First Refusal," Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly, November 2017

"Lack Of Defect Claim No Pass For Automakers: Mass. Court," Law360, June 2014

Resources
Sara Decatur Judge
Practices
  • Automotive
  • Business Litigation & Dispute Resolution
  • Franchise
  • Employment
Education

J.D., Wake Forest University School of Law, 2001

B.A., cum laude, University of Massachusetts Amherst, 1998

Admissions

Massachusetts

New Jersey

New York

U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts

U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York

U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York

U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

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