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.

I was leaving the construction site after a day’s work and was struck by falling debris causing injury. Do I have a workman’s comp claim?

Workers’ compensation is a benefit used by states to compensate employees when they are injured at work. In Massachusetts, the Department of Industrial Accidents (DIA) oversees the workers’ compensation system. Workers’compensation insurance covers almost all employees in Massachusetts.

You are entitled to file for workers compensation benefits, if you suffer a work-related injury or illness, or are a dependent of a worker killed on the job. Employers must display the name and address of its Workers’ Compensation insurer and mandated policy information.

To qualify for workers’ comp benefits, you must have a work-related injury or illness causing disability for five full or partial calendar days. However, the days do not need to be consecutive. Injuries need to be reported to your employer, who is then required to file the Employer’s First Report of Injury or Fatality (Form 101) with the insurer.

In the event your employer does not send the Form to the insurer within 30 days of your injury, you need to report your injury in writing to the insurance company yourself. Keep documentation of when and how the injury occurred and all records related to the injury such as medical visits.

Employers or insurers do not dispute most injured worker claims, but, in the event your claim is disputed, having legal counsel to protect your rights and interests is highly recommended due to the complex nature of the workers’ compensation law.

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.

Arbitrator Issues Award Concluding That A Danvers Police Sergeant’s Ten Day Suspension Was Unjustified

RJA recently obtained a major victory for one of its clients, a sergeant with the Danvers Police Department. In 2017, the Danvers Police Department received a call that a firearm had been discharged into a residence while no one was home, with the bullet striking the exterior of the building and penetrating into the home. The Town later accused a sergeant involved in the police response that day of having violated a number of different rules of the Department for the way that he handled the response. The Town suspended the sergeant for ten days.

RJA appealed the discipline to an arbitrator, who presided over a two day hearing. After lengthy closing briefs were submitted by counsel on both sides, the arbitrator issued a seventy-one page award concluding that the Town violated the union contract by suspending the sergeant.

In her award, the arbitrator agreed with RJA’s arguments almost entirely and rejected every rule violation brought forward but one. The one rule violation left standing at that point was a regulation that required members of the Department to notify the command staff of any serious or unusual incident occurring in Town, with a list of examples that included “shootings.” During the hearing, RJA was able to present evidence that, in the past, while the command staff would be notified of a “shooting” when it was a person that had been shot, the command staff was not notified when a gun was used to shoot at a building. A captain in the Department at the time of the prior event told the sergeant that the command staff did not have to receive notification in that type of shooting because the rule applied to the shooting of a person, not the shooting of a building. That was why, in this instance, the sergeant did not make a notification to the command staff. To the extent that the present administration of the Department interpreted the rule differently, the arbitrator concluded that the sergeant should have received no more than a verbal directive as to how this administration was going to apply the rule. The arbitrator found that no other action was warranted, the ten day suspension was improper and the sergeant should receive his lost pay and benefits suffered from the wrongful suspension.

RESULT: An award from the arbitrator concluding that the suspension was unjustified.
RJA Counsel: Andrew J. Gambaccini

Chartrand Attorney: Civil Service Commission Decision ‘Last Piece Of Puzzle’ For Civil Rights Lawsuit

Chartrand Attorney: Civil Service Commission Decision ‘Last Piece Of Puzzle’ For Civil Rights Lawsuit

By Lisa Redmond | Your Dracut Today

DRACUT — The attorney for Deputy Police Chief David Chartrand has vowed to file a civil rights lawsuit against the town after Chartrand won a major victory last month when the state Civil Service Commission sided with the veteran cop and reduced his 10-day suspension to a letter of reprimand.

The commission’s Nov. 8 decision is part of an ongoing legal battle that has raged since 2016, when Town Administrator James Duggan suspended Chartrand for 10 days claiming Chartrand improperly released to the media – as part of a public records request – documents from Dracut Police Lt. Michael Fleury’s personnel file.

“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’’ a majority of the commission wrote.

Describing it as a “misstep,’’ and given Chartrand’s “solid record of past performance,’’ the commission is “warranted in exercising its discretion to modify the discipline and to reduce it to no more than a written reprimand,’’ the decision reads.

Commission Chairman Christopher C. Bowman took a tougher stance writing that in his opinion, any discipline against Chartrand, as the public records officer, “could have a chilling effect on the need for transparency in government affairs.’’

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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