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Monday, July 22, 2019

Order Regarding Amount-in-Controversy Requirement


Today, the Supreme Judicial Court announced that it will increase the procedural amount for civil actions in Boston Municipal and District Courts from $25,000 to $50,000,  thus increasing the minimum procedural amount required for cases filed in the Superior Court to $50,000.  This change will go in to effect on January 1, 2020. 

The reason for this procedural change is to try and reduce delays that are common with the disposition of civil cases.  This will also have a far reaching effect with the filing of cases that had damages which hovered around the $25,000 cut-off, including personal injury cases and contract disputes.

The Order Regarding Amount-in-Controversy Requirement under Massachusetts General Laws chapter 218, § 19 and chapter 212, §3 states:

"Under G.
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Monday, June 24, 2019

Mass Health and Testamentary Trusts


In order to qualify for Mass Health, individuals must have no more than $2,000 in assets.  Oftentimes this leads to people panicking and trying to spend or hide all of their money and assets.  Irrevocable trusts are a great tool to protect assets for Mass Health eligibility, however Mass Health has a very strict five year look back period, meaning any transfer of assets must have occurred more than five years prior to eligibility.  Unfortunately, many people do not plan far enough in advance (or there is an unexpected injury or illness at a young age) and the five year period is devastating on the healthy spouse's financial future.  There is a strategy that can avoid heartache in the future.
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Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Benefits of a Revocable Trust


While it is true that Irrevocable Trusts provide more complete and far reaching protection for your assets, there are benefits to utilizing Revocable Trusts as well.  Many clients are spooked by the idea of an irrevocable trust, which takes away both your ownership and control over your assets in exchange for protection if you have to go into a nursing home.  Revocable trusts do not offer protection from nursing homes, but there are still benefits to utilizing them.

First and foremost, if your assets are held in a revocable trust, this avoids the probate process which will save your loved ones significant money when you pass away.  A properly drafted revocable trust promotes greater efficiency and a smooth transition of assets in the manner in which you would like your assets to transfer.
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Monday, April 29, 2019

The New Non-Competition Laws in Massachusetts


One of the most debatable employment law issues in Massachusetts over the past decade or so has been changes to Massachusetts' laws regarding non-competition agreements.  Historically, employers loved them and employees (at best) tolerated them.  On August 10, 2018, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed new legislation in the form of Massachusetts General Laws chapter 149, § 24K into law.

Prior to the changes in the law, to be enforceable a non-competition agreement only needed to be supported by consideration, as non-competition agreements were believed to be necessary to protect an employer's legitimate business interests (such as confidential information or trade secrets).  Non-competition agreements needed to be reasonable in scope, in both duration and geographic area.


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Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Marijuana in the Workplace


Massachusetts voted to legalize medical marijuana in 2012 and voted to legalize recreational pot in 2016.  In November of 2018, the first recreational marijuana store opened in Massachusetts.  But what does the legalization of marijuana in the Commonwealth mean in terms of your employment?  Basically, just because marijuana is legal, that does not mean you cannot lose your job if you use it.

The legislation connecting legalized marijuana and employment law is still evolving, but it is becoming a more and more predominate legal question, both from the employer side and the employee side. 

Recreational Marijuana

As is almost always the case with everything in the law, there are exceptions, but in general, using recreational marijuana can cost an employee his or her job in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
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Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Can An Employee Be Fired from Their Job if They Are On Short-Term Disability or Workers Compensation?


One question that comes up quite a lot in the employment law world is whether or not an employee can be fired while they are out on short-term disability or workers comp.  In Massachusetts, the answer is that employees can, in fact, lose their job while out on short-term disability or workers comp - in most cases.

In most states, such as Massachusetts, employees are not entitled to job-protected workers compensation leave.  The same thing is true if an employee is out on short-term disability.  Massachusetts is an “employment-at-will” state.
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Friday, January 25, 2019

Trusts: A Brief Introduction


For individuals interested in estate planning, there seems to be a lot of interest in Trusts, but also a lot of misinformation.  There are certain situations where Trusts are the best estate planning tool to meet an individual's goals, and other situations where Trusts would unnecessarily complicate an otherwise straightforward situation.  There is also a lot of situations that exist in between those two points.  Some background information on Trusts may be helpful.    

Generally speaking, there are two types of Trusts: a testamentary trust and an inter vivos trust.
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Sunday, December 30, 2018

Estate Planning Tips for the New Year


Every year, millions of people make their "New Year's Resolutions."  These resolutions can include accomplishing a personal goal or making a change to improve a person's everyday life.  In 2019, one such New Year's Resolution could be to work on your own estate planning goals and objectives.  To kick off 2019 correctly, I am offering three complimentary and useful estate planning tips.

1.
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Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Common Areas Where Physicians Get Sued


When one thinks of medical malpractice, it is easy to just think about surgical errors or lawsuits involving unfortunate outcomes.  In June of 2018, Rhode Island Hospital entered into a consent agreement with the State Department of Health after reporting four patient errors in four consecutive weeks.  These preventable errors included  performing the wrong tests on the wrong patient and performing a spinal procedure on the wrong part of the spine.  These are the stereotypical types of claims that are associated with physicians being sued, but there are three  more common areas where physicians often find themselves embattled with litigation

1.  Failure to obtain informed consent.
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Sunday, October 28, 2018

Personal Injury and the Baseball Rule


This mantra of the soon-to-be World Champion Boston Red Sox's postseason is to "do damage."  Unfortunately, there are times when the damage done is to the fans in the seats cheering on their favorite team.  Injuries by foul balls at baseball games are rare, but can be very serious when they do happen.  So what are an individual's rights when they are struck and injured by a foul ball at a baseball game?

The longstanding so-called "Baseball Rule" has been adopted by the Court in a majority of jurisdictions.  This Rule limits a landowner's duty of care that is owed to spectators to providing reasonable protection in the form of screening behind home plate.
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Saturday, September 22, 2018

Protections for Massachusetts Employees from Employer's Retaliation and Termination


Massachusetts is a an at-will employment state, meaning that employees can typically be fired at any time for any reason.  However, there are several important exceptions to this general rule which are important for employees who have been let go (or are in fear of being terminated from their employment) to know about.

First, there are certain protected activities under the Common Law that an employee cannot be fired because he or she engaged in said activity.  These activities including: (1) asserting a legal right (such as taking vacation time or filing a workers' compensation action), (2) fulfilling a legal duty (such as attending jury duty), (3) reporting criminal wrongdoing, (4) refusing to commit illegal acts (such as embezzling or committing perjury), and (5) cooperating in a criminal investigation of the employer or the employee's superiors.  Generally speaking, if an employee is engaged in these protected activities the employer cannot terminate him or her for doing so.
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