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Leonard H. Kesten

E-mail MeLeonard H. Kesten

Founding Partner
Location:
Boston, Massachusetts
Phone:
617-880-7104 (Direct Line)
Fax:
617-880-7171
Email:

Leonard H. Kesten is one of the preeminent trial lawyers in Massachusetts.  Mr. Kesten has conducted over 100 jury trials in the United States District Court and the Superior Court. He has also conducted numerous public hearings before the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination. He has argued appeals before the Supreme Judicial Court, the Massachusetts Court of Appeals, and the United States Court of Appeals.  Many of the reported decisions obtained by Mr. Kesten and BHPK appellate specialist Deidre Regan have established important precedents in the areas of civil rights, employment, and school liability.

Mr. Kesten devotes much of his practice to the representation of cities and towns in Massachusetts and their officials and employees. He is considered one of the leading defenders of police officers as he has developed an extensive expertise in the areas of use of force, the constitutionality of searches, and the right to arrest.

He is also considered an expert in discrimination and all forms of employment litigation. He has litigated high profile employment matters in the areas of gender and race discrimination as well as wrongful discharge in violation of public police and sexual harassment. He has successfully represented both employers and employees and has obtained a number of significant verdicts in these matters.

Mr. Kesten has lectured extensively in the areas of trial practice, civil rights, and employment, both nationally and in Massachusetts.  He was recently named in Lawyer's Weekly's Power List of Most Influential Attorneys in 2009.  In addition, he has been recognized as a Lawyer of the Year by Lawyer's Weekly, has been named as a Super Lawyer each year since the award began, has been named as one of the 100 top trial lawyers in Massachusetts by the American Academy of Trial Lawyers, and is rated a perfect 10 (superb) by AVVO.  He has been honored with a Citizens Award given by the Town of Yarmouth Police Department and has been honored by the United States Police K9 Association for his work in the areas of canine use of force.

Before becoming an attorney, Mr. Kesten worked for both the Connecticut and Massachusetts Departments of Correction.  He began work as a corrections officer/counselor and eventually ended his career as a prison superintendent.  He also worked as a special education teacher in the Boston Public Schools.  

After graduating from law school in 1983, Mr. Kesten became an associate at Morrison Mahoney and Miller.  In 1990, he was named as a partner.  In 1995, Mr. Kesten became a founding partner of BHPK.  

Mr. Kesten was born in Poland and is a child of Holocaust survivors. He and his family moved to Israel and then to the United States when he was 10 years old. He was raised on a farm in Connecticut.

Significant Trials

Mr. Kesten has been lead counsel on over 100 jury trials.  Some of the more significant ones include:

Auty v. Mendon, et al
USDC, Judge Swartwood
Civil Rights allegations
Represented: Mendon Police
Verdict: Defense verdict, and verdict for Defendants in counterclaim which alleged conspiracy to commit perjury.

Orton v. Yarmouth
USDC, Judge Keeton
Use of K9 force
Represented: Shadow the K9
Verdict: Defense verdict

Grossmith v. Foxboro
USDC, Judge Young
False arrest and excessive force
Represented: Foxboro Police Department
Verdict: Defense verdict

Snow v. Town of Hamilton
USDC, Judge Gertner
Sexual discrimination
Represented: Town of Hamilton
Verdict: Defense verdict

Buckland v. Town of Westford
Superior Court Judge Hinkley
Excessive force, use of baton
Represented: Westford Police Department
Verdict: Defense verdict

Starczewski v. Town of Dudley Police
Superior Court Judge Toomey
Excessive force, death
Represented: Dudley Police Department
Verdict: Defense verdict

Jarrett v. Yarmouth K9
USDC, Judge Tauro
Use of K9 force
Represented: Shadow the K9
Verdict: Plaintiff verdict for $1.00, reversed on appeal.

Lasota v. Topsfield
USDC, Judge Gertner
Right to Association 1st Amendment
Represented: Topsfield
Verdict: Defense verdict

Doe v. Westlake
Sexual Assault
Represented: Plaintiff Doe
Verdict: Plaintiff's verdict for $1.6 million

Anderson v. Partners
Superior Court Judge Connolly
Traffic accident
Represented: Plaintiff Anderson
Verdict: Plaintiff's verdict for $2.3 million

Davignon v. Clemmey
USDC, Judge Young
Emotional distress
Represented: Plaintiff Davignon
Verdict: Plaintiff's verdict for $4.8 million

Gomez v. Yarmouth K9
USDC, Judge Keeton
Use of K9 force
Represented: Shadow the K9
Verdict: Defense verdict

Cippoletta v. Whitfield Sharp
Superior Court Judge Botsford
Defamation
Represented: Plaintiff Cippoletta
Verdict: Plaintiff's verdict for $150,000

Ciulla v. Gloucester Police
USDC, Judge Young
False arrest and sex discrimination
Represented: Gloucester Police
Verdict: Defense verdict, Judge found that Plaintiff had lied

Surrett v. Yarmouth Police
USDC, Judge Stearns
Sexual assault and excessive force
Represented: Yarmouth Police
Verdict: Judgment for Defendant, Judge found that Plaintiff had lied

Russel v. Reading Police
USDC, Judge Collings
Racial profiling
Represented: Reading Police
Verdict: Defense verdict

Wilson v. Mendon Police
USDC, Judge Swartwood
Excessive force
Represented: Mendon Police
Verdict: Defense verdict

Palazolla v. Foxboro
Superior Court Judge Rausse
Injuries from goalpost teardown at Patriots' game
Represented: Foxboro Police
Verdict: Plaintiff's verdict, reversed by Supreme Judicial Court

Chase v. Fitchburg Police Department
USDC, Judge Young
False arrest
Represented: Fitchburg Police Department
Verdict: Defense verdict

Herreira v. MIT Police
USDC, Judge Stearns
False arrest and excessive force
Represented: MIT Police
Verdict: Defense verdict

Beck v. State Police
Superior Court Judge Brassard
False arrest of lawyer
Represented: State Police
Verdict: Defense verdict

Fruforminduh v. Chelmsford Police Department
USDC, Judge Young
False arrest and excessive force
Represented: Chelmsford Police Department
Verdict: Defense verdict

Gallerani v. Plymouth
USDC, Judge O'Toole
Wrongful discharge
Represented: Town of Plymouth
Verdict: Defense verdict

Jones v. Wareham
USDC, Judge Zobel
False arrest and excessive force
Represented: Wareham Police Department
Verdict: Defense verdict

Significant reported decisions include the following:

Cuddyer v. Stop & Shop

Jarret v. Yarmouth

Lasota v. Topsfield

Howe v. Marblehead

Wilson v. Mendon

Furtado v. Plymouth

Palazzola v. Foxboro

Porto v. Tewksbury

Areas of Practice

  • Municipal Liability Practice
  • Employment Law and Land use
  • Civil Rights
  • Sexual harassment
  • Defamation
  • Exigent Circumstances
  • Excessive Force
  • Emotional Distress
  • Wrongful Discharge

Bar Admissions

  • Massachusetts, 1983
  • U.S. District Court District of Massachusetts, 1983
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 1st Circuit, 1983

Education

  • Northeastern University School of Law, Boston, Massachusetts
    • J.D., Doctor of Jurisprudence - 1983
  • University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut
    • B.A. - 1970
  • Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts
    • M.Ed. - 1975

Classes/Seminars

  • Lecturer, Civil Rights and Employment Law, Massachusetts Criminal Justice Training Council
  • Lecturer, Civil Rights, Employment Law, Premises Liability, and Trial Advocacy, Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education (MCLE)
  • Lecturer, Civil Rights, Employment Law, Premises Liability, and Trial Advocacy, Defense Research Institute
  • Lecturer, Civil Rights and Employment Law, Massachusetts Police Chiefs Association
  • Lecturer, Civil Rights and Employment Law, Massachusetts Municipal Association
  • Lecturer, Civil Rights, Employment Law, and Premises Liability, National Advisory Board for Public Entity Insurance

Professional Associations and Memberships

  • Massachusetts Bar Association, Member
  • Federal Bar Association, Member
  • American Bar Association, Member
  • Boston Bar Association, Member
  • Massachusetts Academy of Trial Attorneys, Member
  • Massachusetts Defense Lawyers Association, Member
  • Massachusetts Municipal Lawyers Association, Member
  • Defense Research Institute, Member
  • Over the Hill Basketball
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