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Thursday, April 30, 2020

Employee Rights During COVID-19


March 1, 2020, the day that the Coronavirus was declared a global pandemic, seems so far away as we head into the month of May.  Like a bad dream or childhood cartoon, the days have begun to morph into a singular, collective day for many as the uncertainty, fear and rapid changes continue. As the state with the third highest number of cases in the United States, Massachusetts has closed public and private schools for the rest of the year, postponing jury trials until at least July 1st, 2020, issued stay at home orders, social distancing guidelines, and a plethora of other measure sin an effort to keep citizens safe.

For many, the stay at home orders are a question in and of themselves. With some industries being deemed essential and childcare centers closed, there has been repeated questions as to what that means for employees.


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Thursday, March 26, 2020

Force Majeure Provisions & COVID-19


On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared the novel coronavirus (more commonly known as COVID-19) to be a pandemic.  For many Americans, this was their first experience with a disease that had a power to disrupt life on such a global scale.  Many of us had watched movies such as Contagion or Outbreak, and thought those we were scary, but unlikely, stories.  In the world of commercial and contract law, there is a term of art that is often thrown about but not very often utilized: force majeure.

A force majeure event involves an occurrence which is outside the reasonable control of a party and which prevents a party from performing his, her, or its obligations under an otherwise valid contract.
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Friday, February 28, 2020

Massachusetts General Law c. 90 §13b


In some ways, we are all guilty of sneaking a glance at the screen of our phones while behind the wheel, whether stuck in traffic or stopped at a red light. A quick scroll through the email, a lightning fast response to the repetitive chime of incoming text messages. Now, as of February 23, 2020, to do so in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is illegal. Under new Massachusetts General Law chapter 90 section 13b, any use of a mobile device while stationary and or in an operational capacity while on a public roadway, unless the phone is being used as a navigational device and affixed firmly to the vehicle, is banned. This includes use at red lights and stop signs, or even pulled over to the shoulder, for even the briefest of moments, which means no more responding to emails or Snapchat streaks.
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Thursday, January 23, 2020

Massachusetts Home Improvement Contractor Law


Contractors hired to work on a residential home in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts must provide written contracts with required information provided if the amount of the work will exceed one thousand dollars.  In fact, so-called "handshake deals", verbal agreements, or simple invoice contracts more likely than not will violate Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 142A.

In 1992, the Massachusetts legislature passed the Home Improvement Contractor Law which became Massachusetts General Laws chapter 142A.  This law lays the foundation for agreements between contractors and homeowners when the value of the work being performed will exceed one thousand dollars.

A firm understanding of this law (as well as the requirements of a contract) will help protect both the homeowner and the contractor.
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Monday, December 30, 2019

The Court Denies Corporation's Request to Enforce Non-Competition Agreement


          Recent changes in Massachusetts' laws regarding non-competition agreements have started leading to interesting court rulings in Superior Court.  In the matter of Genzyme Corporation and Bioverativ, Inc. v. Keith Hanglin and BioMarin Pharmaceutical, Inc., the Court has recently ruled that Genzyme cannot block a former employee from joining BioMarin Pharmaceutical Inc, where he would help launch a gene therapy treatment for hemophilia that would compete with a drug his ex-employer markets.
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Wednesday, November 27, 2019

The Prejudice Against Bicycle Accidents


If you have been to a Boston Celtics or Boston Bruins game recently, you may have noticed an extensive (and relatively) confusing bicycle path lining Causeway Street and the surrounding areas.  Even in the suburbs, bicycle lanes which share the road with automobile traffic are becoming more and more commonplace.  Not surprisingly the more bicycles that are on the road, the more bicycle related accidents that have been occurring.  Unlike cases involving automobile versus automobile or automobile versus pedestrian, it is not always easy to determine liability in automobile versus bicycle cases.

There are many ways in which a bicycle accident can occur.
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Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Event Data Recorder (EDR) Technology and Personal Injury Litigation


It is amazing to think about how far technology in automobiles has come over the years.  It may seem like ancient history, but there was a time when there was no way to make a telephone call while driving.  Then technology brought us large corded phones that you could pull out of little portable suitcases that could be carried into the car.  Now we keep our mobile device in our pocket and makes calls using our vehicle's operating system.  Automobiles now have lane departure detection technology, GPS tracking, cameras at all angles to assist with parking, and some vehicles can even operate the car for you.
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Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Digital Assets in Estate Administration (the Ajemian case)


Online and digital profiles and currency have only increased in popularity over the past decade and will likely do so for the foreseeable future.  Cash is being replaced by PayPal, Venmo, and BitCoins; the phone book has been replaced by Yelp, Facebook, and TripAdvisor; and bank and financial institutions send bills and statements through e-mail as opposed to regular mail.  While all of these technological innovations have their benefits, there is still the lingering question of what happens to your digital estate after you have passed away.  A recent Massachusetts case has analyzed a personal representative's authority to obtain access to the contents of a decedent's email and digital assets without express instructions from the decedent.

On August 10, 2006, John Ajemian passed away unexpectedly leaving no will.
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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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