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Wednesday, June 3, 2020

The Process of (and Hope in) Reopening


As I write this, we are three months and one day into the declared Coronavirus Pandemic, where many of us have spent our time at home practicing social distancing. We have all watched as the confirmed cases and casualties have climbed with Massachusetts a hotbed of activity. For many this has been an unprecedented experience, and, in some ways, it has brought us all metaphorically closer as we keep our minimum six feet apart. With daily and weekly updates, a plethora of broadcasts and articles, we have waited anxiously for this moment and as of May 15, 2020, the Baker-Polito Administration have unveiled their four-phase plan to reopen the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Any dates that have been projected are currently tentative as the Commonwealth begins to take into account the probable cases going back to March 1st when the declaration was made and continues to reevaluate based on data trends.
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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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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, 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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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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