Discrimination Claims Against Waltham Police Lieutenant Rejected By The Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination

In this case, the complainant, a female dispatcher with the City of Waltham, filed a lengthy charge of discrimination with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (“the MCAD”) alleging that she was the victim of sexual harassment and a sexually hostile work environment, and also that she was subjected to gender discrimination, disability discrimination (arising out of severe chemical sensitivities) and illegal retaliation by a police lieutenant and others.

After the filing of the charge of discrimination, RJA Attorney Andrew Gambaccini filed with the MCAD on behalf of the named police lieutenant a seventy-eight page response that detailed the complainant’s employment history with the City and that also carefully explained why the complainant’s claims were bogus and fabricated. In particular, as to the disability discrimination claim, the response explained and supported with evidence the consistent and appropriate steps that were taken to accommodate the complainant’s needs and requests concerning her disability.

On April 27, 2019, the MCAD issued its determination on the complaint. The MCAD dismissed the complainant’s charge of discrimination on each and every claim, finding no probable cause existed to support any of the complainant’s various theories of liability.

I sustained a serious injury while working out at my gym. Is the gym liable?

Gym injuries are common, especially minor sprains and pulled muscles. If your own carelessness contributed to the incident, the gym may not be liable. However, when malfunctioning equipment or employee negligence causes an injury, you may have a personal injury case.

Gyms are responsible for maintaining a reasonably safe workout environment. The gym should clean equipment regularly and maintain it properly. If you sustain an injury by slipping on a wet floor, by improperly kept equipment, or by catching a serious illness, such as a staph infection, from unsanitary equipment, then the gym may be liable to you for that injury.

Equipment manufacturers and other gym-goers can also be liable for your injuries. If someone else intentionally or carelessly injures you at the gym (for example, a free weight user drops a weight, and it hits you), they may be responsible for any injuries you sustain. Similarly, if you sustain an injury due to a faulty or improperly documented workout machine, you may have a case against the equipment manufacturer.

When joining a gym, it’s important to read the liability waiver and ask questions. While many gym members think that a liability waiver means they cannot pursue legal action against a gym, that is not always true. While a liability waiver may prevent you from taking specific actions, it does not fully protect gyms from personal injury liability.

Depending on the incident, you may have an opportunity to challenge the validity of a waiver. Keep in mind that no waiver protects a gym establishment from liability for intentional or grossly negligent acts. If you sustain an injury due to no fault of your own while on gym property, consider talking to a personal injury attorney.

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.

I recently discovered toxic mold in my apartment. Am I allowed to withhold rent until the mold is removed?

Landlords are urged to take mold seriously under Massachusetts law. Mold is considered a top environmental concern because it grows quickly if the indoor isn’t properly build or prepared. Long term exposure to black mold is potentially harmful to health and may cause a wide range of symptoms and consequences, specially for people with lung diseases or weakened immune systems; Even when most people only relation mold with moisture, it can easily grow on a house or apartment if these don’t have enough ventilation, fresh air flow or polluted buildings. An easy way to prevent that is using air filters or indoor air cleaner systems, here you can see an example https://a-1certifiedenvironmentalservices.com/indoor-air-quality-testing-los-angeles-county/

Regardless of the provisions of a written lease agreement, landlords in Massachusetts are bound by “implied warranty of habitability.” This legal doctrine requires the landlord to providetenants with apartments in livable condition. Tenants in Massachusetts have the right to pursue two common legal self-help strategies.

The first, known as “rent withholding,” is when tenants stop paying rent, claiming the mold has made their apartment uninhabitable. The second strategy, known as “repair and deduct,” involves tenants taking care of mold cleanup on their own and then subtracting the cost from their rent.

Several conditions need to be met under Massachusetts law for these options to be legal. For example, most rent withholding laws do not permit you to withhold rent, if you are behind in the rent or in violation of a relevant lease clause. You  also must report the problem and give your landlord a reasonable opportunity to fix the issue. Additionally, the problem must be severe, not just annoying, and must imperil your health or safety.

Tenants who believe they have been harmed by the presence of high concentrations of mold in their apartment can try to recover damages from their landlord in court to compensate them for their loss. For help regarding harmful mold, give our legal team a call.

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 | lowellsun.com

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.

Read more: lowellsun.com

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…]