Does Massachusetts allow pain-and-suffering claims?

Massachusetts allows pain-and-suffering claims in some cases and up to a certain amount. Pain-and-suffering claims are “non-economic” in that they are not seeking to compensate for a financial loss, such as damage to property, medical bills or lost income, which are “economic” damages.

In Massachusetts, pain-and-suffering claims must usually be filed alongside economic claims. In the case of car accidents, the medical expenses must exceed $2000 before a pain-and-suffering claim may be filed. For car accidents, Massachusetts law also expects victims to rely on their own no-fault insurance coverage for medical expenses before suing.

Some states put “caps” on non-economic damage claims. In Massachusetts, there is no cap, except in medical malpractice cases, where there is a cap of $500,000 for pain-and-suffering claims.

If you are seeking compensation for the financial and emotional toll of an injury, call our office today to discuss your options.

My neighbor allows her dog to run loose. While walking my own dog, the neighbor’s bit me. What recourse do I have under the law?

An aggressive dog is a menace to the neighborhood and, potentially, a source of great legal trouble for the owner. In Massachusetts, a dog and its owner are not granted any leniency in terms of civil liability, even if this is the first occasion on which the dog has bitten someone. Additionally, since Massachusetts is a “strict liability” state, even if a dog is restrained or an owner otherwise takes “reasonable precautions,” the owner may still be liable.

If you plan on filing a claim or a lawsuit, be sure to take pictures of your injuries and bring documentation from your doctor. If you’ve previously taken pictures of the dog running loose, that is also helpful. There may be additional, local ordinances against unleashed dogs that come into play. An experienced personal injury attorney, such as one of our partners, will be able to assess the individual circumstances of a dog attack. All this assumes, however, that neither you nor your own dog did anything to provoke the neighbor’s animal. The law waives liability for the owner of a dog, if the victim of the bite was trespassing or in any way harassing or tormenting the dog.

Call our office today to discuss your options for compensation following a dog bite or another injury.

Chartrand vs. Duggan: It’s not over quite yet

Chartrand vs. Duggan: It’s not over quite yet

A Sun staff report by The Lowell Sun

DON’T EXPECT the feud between Dracut Town Manager Jim Duggan and Deputy Police Chief David Chartrand to simmer down. In fact, look for it to intensify.

Last week, the state’s Civil Service Commission rejected the 10-day suspension Duggan imposed on Chartrand, over the latter’s handling of documents in Police Lt. Michael Fleury’s personnel file.

Chartrand had been suspended without pay. The commission ruled 3-2 in favor of Chartrand.

Andrew Gambaccini, Chartrand’s lawyer, said he and his client are pleased with the ruling.

Gambaccini said the commission did not allow his team’s recent motion to reopen the record to uncover “additional evidence” that he said they discovered. He hinted of alleged recordings and emails from Duggan in which the town manager discussed “his apparent plot to go after Deputy Chief Chartrand.”

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Civil Service rules in favor of Dracut deputy

Civil Service rules in favor of Dracut deputy

By Amaris Castillo |

DRACUT — The state’s Civil Service Commission ruled 3-2 in favor of Deputy Police Chief David Chartrand over the town of Dracut in an appeal of the town’s decision to suspend Chartrand for 10 days.

Chartrand in 2016 was suspended for two weeks without pay, following a civil service inquiry into his handling of documents in a Dracut lieutenant’s personnel file. Police Lt. Michael Fleury had accused Chartrand of improperly releasing a letter in his personnel file to The Sun.

The majority opinion by three commissioners is that Chartrand’s appeal should be allowed in part and that his 10-day suspension should be modified and reduced to a written reprimand, according to the 44-page decision obtained by The Sun.

“We agree that the Town has not established just cause for discipline for violation of the most serious charges, including no violation of the public records laws or other misconduct, save for his failure to provide proper due process to the subject of an internal affairs investigation, as required by the department’s rules and regulations,” the majority opinion reads.

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Superior Court Judge Dismisses All Claims Against Two Waltham Police Officers In Civil Rights Lawsuit

In 2018, the plaintiff amended his complaint in an existing civil rights lawsuit to name two Waltham police officers as defendants. In the amended complaint, the plaintiff alleged that he was defamed by the police officers’ filing of false police reports about him, that one of the officers sought a criminal complaint against the plaintiff without prior notice or respecting his right to a show cause hearing on the charges, that the officers conducted negligent investigations concerning the plaintiff, that the officers prosecuted the plaintiff maliciously and that one of the officers gave false testimony during a probation hearing.

A motion to dismiss was filed on behalf of the officers, explaining that the plaintiff’s claims were subject to dismissal prior to any discovery being taken. After a hearing on the motion in November, 2018, the Superior Court has dismissed all claims against both officers.

RESULT: Dismissal of all claims against the officers.
RJA Counsel: Andrew J. Gambaccini

At a shopping center, I slipped on the wet floor and broke my tailbone. Would I sue the owners of the particular store, or of the entire complex?

Liability depends on many factors, including the exact location where you slipped and the cause of the wet floor.

Typically, an individual or corporation owns the building that comprises the shopping center. The owner then rents out specific units to other individuals or corporations. While the tenants are responsible for conditions within their rented units, the landlord typically remains responsible for conditions in the common spaces of the mall or shopping center. Managing a rental place requires fast and efficient decision-making process. The first factor to consider is whether you slipped inside a tenant’s store or in an area for which the landlord is usually responsible, such as a corridor, a food court, a parking lot, or a restroom.

From here, the issues of liability become more complicated, revealing why it is important to consult a personal injury attorney as you pursue compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering:

• Why was the floor wet? Was it sloppy housekeeping? Was the landlord or the tenant responsible for housekeeping in the area where you fell? Was a third party hired for housekeeping, making them partially liable as well?

• Did the wet floor resulted from leaking pipes, poorly maintained pavement, or unmarked hazards? These hazards may have resulted from the negligence of the landlord, even if you slipped and fell.

As you have seen, liability is a complicated question. Call our office today to discuss your options. Our experienced personal-injury attorneys will work to make sure you receive the absolute maximum for your suffering.

Fired Provincetown chief’s contracts bucked legal advice

By KC Meyers | Cape Cod Times

PROVINCETOWN — Former Town Manager Sharon Lynn went against town counsel’s advice and granted generous contracts to Police Chief Jeff Jaran in 2008 and 2011 that could end up costing the town hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to a series of emails released by the Board of Selectmen.

Jaran was fired in December 2013 for urging his staff to support Selectman Austin Knight, whom he viewed as a pro-police candidate, in that year’s town election. He also instructed a lieutenant to get campaign signs from Knight’s garage so they could be distributed at the police station to his staff. An independent investigator and an arbitration panel found Jaran’s campaigning violated local, state and federal laws.

The campaigning came in the wake of a town meeting vote defeating an article that sought to replace or renovate the aging police station.

Jaran appealed the termination, and an arbitration panel found last week that he should have been suspended without pay for a year but not fired. The panel ordered the town to pay Jaran for 13 months remaining on his five-year contract, as well as a few additional months of back pay. His annual salary was about $127,000 in 2013. The town also must pay Jaran’s legal fees, which come to at least $90,000, according to his attorney, Andrew Gambaccini. The town’s own legal expenses have come to about $45,000 for the arbitration, said Dan Hoort, director of municipal finance. [Read more…]

Federal Court Rejects Claims Against Lawrence Police Chief and Captain

In November, 2010, a police officer with the Lawrence Police Department was in Lawrence District Court to support the son of the Department’s Deputy Police Chief, who had been charged with various crimes. While in the courthouse, the officer had an interaction with three civilians who were involved in the prosecution of the Deputy Chief’s son. Based upon that interaction, the three civilians complained to an Assistant District Attorney.

An investigation by the Lawrence Police Department and the Massachusetts State Police was conducted and, based upon that investigation, the police officer was charged with counts of witness intimidation and was arrested. After a grand jury elected not to indict him on the charges, the police officer sued the Lawrence Chief of Police, a Captain with the Lawrence Police Department, the City of Lawrence and members of the Massachusetts State Police. The officer alleged that his rights had been violated because he had been targeted and arrested falsely.

RJA represented the Lawrence Chief of Police and the Lawrence Captain. Through motion to dismiss paperwork, the argument was made that the officer’s claims were untimely and were insufficient as a matter of law to continue. The federal judge agreed and dismissed all claims against all of the defendants and the officer has decided not to pursue an appeal of that decision.

RESULT: Full and final dismissal of all claims.
RJA Counsel: Andrew J. Gambaccini

RJA Scores Important Victory For Law Enforcement In Constitutional Claim

Most civil rights claims against police officers in Massachusetts are made by former criminal defendants who, for one reason or another, were not found guilty of the criminal charges brought against them. Going forward, those plaintiffs will have one less claim that they can make against police officers involved in their arrest or prosecution.

RJA represented a Sergeant with the Springfield Police Department in connection with a federal civil rights claim made by a former criminal defendant who had been found not guilty of the charges brought against him by the District Attorney’s Office. Included among those claims was an allegation that the Sergeant was liable civilly because a piece of evidence, which the plaintiff claimed was exculpatory and would have been helpful in his defense, was not turned over during the criminal prosecution.

After the filing of a motion to dismiss by RJA, a federal judge in Springfield agreed with the arguments made and concluded that, as a matter of federal constitutional law, a civil rights plaintiff is not able to make a claim that he or she was wronged by a failure to turn over evidence if the plaintiff was not convicted criminally.

This authority, the first time that a federal court in Massachusetts has issued such a determination, now can be used to benefit police officers in future lawsuits and effectively has eliminated an entire category of claims that can be brought against law enforcement officials.

RJA Counsel: Andrew J. Gambaccini and John Vigliotti

Selectmen oust Saugus town manager Crabtree

By Mike Gaffney | WickedLocal

Scott Crabtree is out as Saugus town manager.

The Board of Selectmen voted 4-1 last Wednesday to adopt with good cause a final resolution for the removal of Crabtree as town manager. Selectman Debra Panetta cast the lone vote against the motion.

Crabtree had requested a public hearing in the wake of the board’s 4-1 vote Sept. 15 to support a preliminary resolution for his removal and to suspend him from his duties. But the afternoon of Oct. 29 Crabtree’s attorney Andrew Gambaccini wrote in a letter to the selectmen that he was withdrawing his request for a public hearing because “the hearing contemplated would be nothing more than a farce where the result is predetermined.”

In the letter Gambaccini outlined that Crabtree vehemently denies the content of the nine allegations Selectmen Chairman Ellen Faiella levied against him as just cause for his removal. He contended that Crabtree desires a fair process to clear his good name. [Read more…]