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Massachusetts General Laws

Friday, April 22, 2022

Massachusetts Wage Act Provides for Automatic Treble Damages for Late Wage Payments


If an employer does not provide an employee leaving the company with his or her wage payments on time but quickly corrects the problem, that is the end of the issue, correct?  Not so fast, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court recently held.  Even if the employer fails to make timely wage payments to a departing employee by mistake, the employer will be on the hook for automatic treble damages.  The SJC’s recent ruling and clarification of the Massachusetts Wage Act is essential information for all employers in Massachusetts to be fully informed about before failure to comply with the Act becomes a very costly mistake.

Massachusetts General Law c.149 § 148 states that "any employee leaving his employment shall be paid in full on the following regular pay day, and, in the absence of a regular pay day, on the following Saturday; and any employee discharged from such employment shall be paid in full on the day of his discharge.
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Thursday, January 20, 2022

Massachusetts Road Deaths Highest Since 2009


Massachusetts had more deaths on its roads in 2021 than in any year since 2009.  According to a new report from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, four hundred and eight people died on Massachusetts road last year, including drivers, passengers, bicyclists, and pedestrians.  This death total is nineteen percent higher than the 2020 total of 343 fatalities.

There are many explanations for this increase in fatalities.  Beginning in April of 2020, there was an increase of reckless driving and speeding which was explained by the Covid-19 pandemic emptying roadways which used to home congested streets.
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Thursday, December 23, 2021

Charlie’s Law Could Strengthen Distracted Drivers Laws in Massachusetts


On October 6, 2021, Charlie Braun was killed when he was struck by a car while riding his bicycle in Northampton, Massachusetts.  The driver that hit and killed Charlie Braun is facing charges of negligent motor vehicle homicide, failing to stop for a stop sign, and FaceTiming while driving.  As a result, there has been a new push to further reduce distracted driving in Massachusetts and it involves strengthening the state's current hands-free driving law and closing an existing loophole regarding broadcasting video content while driving.

The state's hands-free law, which went into effect in February 2020, already prohibits drivers from holding their phones while operating their vehicles, but, in a bit of a loophole, it does not prohibit operates from filming while driving.  More specifically, while the Massachusetts law bans drivers from viewing video displayed on a mobile electronic device, it does not ban drivers from recording or broadcasting video of themselves while driving, using apps like FaceTime or Zoom.
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Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Massachusetts Emergency Vehicle Law


Recently a colleague asked me what the law required when an emergency vehicle is traveling on the same road but in the opposite direction.  He was not sure if he had an obligation to pull over to the right if the emergency vehicle had an unobstructed path forward in its lane of travel.  The law does require drivers in the opposite lane of travel to pull over as far to the right as is safely possible even if the emergency vehicle has a clear path forward in the opposite travel lane.  Failure to do so can lead to a fine, jail time, loss of license, and have a significant repercussions on a possible automobile accident claim.

The important law to be aware of is Massachusetts General Law chapter 89 § 7 and §7A.


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Friday, May 21, 2021

SJC Puts a 3 Year Limit on MassHealth Estate Claims


A recent Supreme Judicial Court decision confirmed that MassHealth has a statute of limitations of three years from a beneficiary’s death to file its claim for reimbursement on the beneficiary’s estate or MassHealth’s Claim is completely barred.

The Court recently made this ruling In the Matter of Estate of Kendall, 486 Mass. 522 (2020).  In this matter, Jacqueline Ann Kendall died intestate on August 7, 2014.  At the time of her passing, Ms.
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Thursday, April 22, 2021

Not Giving a Terminated Employee their Final Pay on the Day of Termination Can Lead to Triple Damages and an Award of Attorney’s Fees


Massachusetts wage and hours laws provide employers with guidance as to how, when, and how much workers must be paid.  One common issue that arises is when and what employees that resign or are terminated need to be paid.  Generally speaking, an employee is voluntarily quits or resigns may be paid on the next regular pay date after his or her last day of work but an employee who is involuntarily terminated must be paid in full on the day of discharge.  Failing to adhere to these rules can have significant consequences.

Massachusetts General Laws chapter 149 § 148 states “any employee discharged from such employment shall be paid in full on the day of his discharge.
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Thursday, January 14, 2021

Deponents Can Force Virtual Depositions During COVID-19 Pandemic


One of the most important parts of the discovery process in any claim or civil litigation are the depositions.  In a personal injury claim, the injured party is almost always deposed and the defendant is often deposed as well (unless liability is not disputed).  In an employment law claim, depositions can take place not only of the people directly involved in the claim, but often all of the employees of the company.  Any litigator will tell you the importance of depositions to a legal claim.  They can make or break a lawsuit, sometimes only with one wrong answer.
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Friday, September 25, 2020

The Importance of a Health Care Proxy in Massachusetts


One of the three most basic estate planning documents is the health care proxy.  This is the document where an individual gives permission to another person to make health care decisions on their behalf in the event they are incapacitated or unable to make health care decisions for themselves.  This document is especially important in Massachusetts because under Massachusetts law, there is no identified law that allows for the appointment of a default surrogate under any circumstances.  That means that your spouse, parents, and children have no legal right to make health care decisions for you.

Massachusetts is in the minority with regards to the treatment of health care proxies.
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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, 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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