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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, 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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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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Sunday, August 5, 2018

Is the Law Keeping Up with Technology


Technological advances are one of the most exciting and innovative aspects of our times.  Whether it be the new features on the latest Android or iPhone or high definition drones capturing memorable moments in the sky, advances in technology are happening at more and more rapid pace.  But can the law keep up with technology?

Drones are heavily regulated but these regulations are both not well known to the public and not always followed.  There have been reported personal injury claims associated with drones from defective drone equipment and drone operator negligence.  Sometimes it is not clear which was the cause of someone's injury (and considering how frequently drones are being used at large public events, the risk of injury is only getting higher and higher).
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Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Accidents and Injury Related to Snow, Ice, and Winter Weather in MA and RI


Considering today is New England's third nor'easter in the last two weeks, it may be a good time to discuss how Massachusetts and Rhode Island handle personal injury claims that occur during snowy conditions.

For slip and fall accidents, the State of Rhode Island follows what is called the "Connecticut Rule."  This rule makes it a legal duty for a property owner (of a private residence, retail store, restaurant, and government entities) to remove natural hazards from common areas on the property within a "reasonable time."  Of importance, the "reasonable time" typically lasts at least up until the snowfall has ended.   

While it may not be your first instinct, it is important to document the accident scene at the time of the accident.
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Thursday, November 9, 2017

Do Third Party Witnesses/Deponents Need Legal Representation?

One of the most important elements of the discovery process for any type of litigation are the depositions.  Some lawsuits or claims do not require any deposition notices; others require depositions in the double digits. 

One common misconception is that only parties to a lawsuit can be deposed.  In fact, any witness, whether a party or not, with any relevant information to the case can probably be deposed.  So, if you are a third-party deponent, do you need to contact a lawyer?


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Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Are Social Media Profiles Discoverable in Personal Injury Litigation?


As our technology expands, so do the legal liabilities and consequences that accompany it.  Fifteen years ago the only real prevalent "social media" was AOL Instant Messenger better known as AIM.  Today, there are dozens of social media platforms including Facebook, WhatsApp, QQ, WeChat, QZone, Tumblr, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, Baidu Tieba, Skype, Viber, Sina Weibo, Line, Snapchat,Vkontakte, Pinterest, Telegram, Reddit, Taringa, Foursquare, Renren, Tagged, Badoo, MySpace, StumbleUpon, The Dots, Kiwibox, Skyrock, Delicious, Snapfish, Reverbnation, Flixster, Care2, Cafemom, ravelry, NextDoor, Wayn, CellUFun, Vine, Classmates, MyHeritage, Viadeo, Xing, Xanga, LiveJournal, Friendster, and YouTube - just to name a few.

While there are many great aspects to the ability to connect to so many people both known and unknown in the world, as with all technology, there are important legal ramifications to consider.  Specifically, one question that is becoming more and more prevalent is who has the right to access a person's social media profiles.


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