Tag Archives: Massachusetts

Adams Massachusetts Truck Accident Attorney

Adams Massachusetts Truck Accident Attorney

Video Transcript:

I’m attorney Paul Harding with the law firm Martin, Harding and Mazzotti – the Heavy Hitters
Here in Adams, Massachusetts.
There are about 500,000 truck accidents every year in the US.
The ones that involve large commercial trucks like 18-wheelers tend to cause much more damage than your average wreck.
That’s because the weight of a big rig can be 25 times heavier than a car.
And with that kind of difference in size, even a small hit can turn out to be catastrophic.
Medical bills, debilitating injuries, even death. Who do you turn to?
Well, the answer is: a lawyer you can trust.
We’ve been handling cases for the victims of truck accidents – victims just like you
for over 20 years.
If you’ve been injured in a truck accident
And would like to speak with a lawyer you can trust,
Call 1800LAW1010 for a free, no obligation case evaluation
Or visit us online for more information at www.1800LAW1010.com.
We’re Martin, Harding and Mazzotti – the Heavy Hitters.
And we look forward to helping you get the money you deserve.

Controlled Affiliates Under the Massachusetts Tort Claims Act: New Case Law

Does a property owner who is a “controlled affiliate” of a
public housing authority also qualify as a public entity by its affiliation?
More importantly for purposes of personal injury law, is an injured tenant
limited in recovery against the controlled affiliate under the Massachusetts
Tort Claims Act? These questions were addressed by the Appeals Court in
the Massachusetts case of
Acevedo v. Musterfield Place.

In the case, the plaintiff
slipped and fell while he was walking down the stairs in his apartment in a public housing
authority in Framingham. He suffered serious
injuries and sued the housing authority, the property owner, and the managing agent
in order to recover for his
damages. The property owner and manager filed a motion for summary judgment, asking
that they be regarded as public employers under the Massachusetts Tort
Claims Act. The effect of that would be to limit their liability to $100,000
in damages, which is the limit for public entities prescribed by the act.

The property owner in this case was classified as a “controlled affiliate”—it
is more than a private contractor, as it purchased the property from the
public housing authority in order to assist with its rehabilitation and
maintenance. Under the Code of Massachusetts Regulations, the controlled
affiliate is required to maintain the property in the same manner and
to the same effect as if it were a public housing authority.

The trial judge denied the defendants’ motion, noting that the act
clearly defines public employers, and that “controlled affiliates”
of public entities, such as the defendants, are not considered public
employers. The judge then reported the case to the Appeals Court, recognizing
that this was a case of first impression in Massachusetts.

The Appeals Court concluded that neither a controlled affiliate nor the
manager of a controlled affiliate is a “public employer” as
defined in the Massachusetts Tort Claims Act, noting that the language
of the act does not include controlled affiliates, and in fact, specifically
excludes private contractors.

The Court compared the situation to private contractors. “[I]f a
housing authority that owned a housing development were to retain a private
contractor to manage the development (including delegating to that private
contractor the responsibility for maintenance and repairs in the housing
development), a suit brought by a tenant of the housing development against
the private contractor for injuries arising from the negligent failure
to maintain or repair the premises could not be brought under the act
and, accordingly, would not be subject to the limitations on liability
in the act,” the Court stated. Simply having a contract that required
the contractor to perform the same duties of maintenance and repair that
a housing authority would have does not transform the contractor into
a public housing authority or public employer, the Court noted.

“Accordingly, if a private contractor that manages property owned
by a housing authority is not a public employer (even if it were contractually
obligated to manage the property as if it were a housing authority), then
a controlled affiliate that purchased the property from the housing authority,
but is required by regulation to manage the property “in the same
manner and to the same effect as if it were” a housing authority…is
also not a public employer,” the Court said. “It would be
strange indeed if the sale of the public property by the housing authority
to a private entity could enable that private entity to become a public
employer.” The Appeals Court affirmed the trial judge’s decision
to deny the defendants’ motion.

If you have any questions about motor vehicle accidents, negligence matters,
personal injury law,
tort law, intentional torts, damages, or other legal incidents, please
contact our offices. You may schedule a free consultation with an experienced professional
today. Call 978-225-9030 during business hours or complete a contact form
online, and one of our
experienced personal injury attorneys will get back to you.

The Massachusetts Rule Regarding Neighbors’ Trees: New Case Law

As the expression goes, “good fences make good neighbors.”
Under some circumstances, however, neighborly disputes can – and
do – arise. One of those circumstances deals with Mother Nature
at her finest: what happens when a neighbor’s tree branches reach
over another’s property, causing
damages?

This was the issue in a recent case decided by the Massachusetts Supreme
Judicial Court. In the case,
Shiel v. Rowell, the plaintiffs filed a complaint for private nuisance and trespass against
the defendant, a neighbor. The plaintiffs alleged that the neighbor’s
tree caused algae buildup on the roof of the plaintiffs’ home. Though
the plaintiffs asked the defendant neighbor to cut it down, the defendants
refused. The plaintiff sought money damages as well as an injunction requesting
that the overhanging branches be cut back. At trial, the judge dismissed
the plaintiffs’ claims. The plaintiffs appealed.

The case was originally decided based on the so-called “Massachusetts
rule,” which has long held that a landowner may not hold a neighbor
liable when a healthy tree on the neighbor’s property causes damage.
This rule was established by a case named
Michaelson v. Nutting–as that case pointed out, a Massachusetts landowner has the right
to use his or her land, and all of his or her land, to grow trees. In
that case, the Massachusetts courts recognized the plaintiff’s right
to cut off intruding boughs and roots in order to protect their own property
from harm.

The plaintiffs in this case urged the Massachusetts court to adopt the
so-called “Hawaii rule,” which grants neighbors the right
of action in order to resolve a dispute in court over healthy trees. The
Hawaii rule allows the neighbor to recover for damage and cut back branches
and roots if the tree causes imminent danger or sensible harm to the neighbor’s
property. The plaintiffs argued that the Massachusetts rule is outdated
and should be replaced. The plaintiff noted that today, people are living
closer to one another and on smaller tracts of land than at the time when
the Massachusetts rule was adopted. The defendants, on the other hand,
argued that the Massachusetts rule was more sensible and should not be
disturbed.

The Supreme Judicial Court sided with the defendants. In its decision,
the court discussed the steps towards disturbing precedent, and noted
that doing so would require something above and beyond mere disagreement.
“We may uproot precedent when ‘the values in so doing outweigh
the values underlying stare decisis.’ Overruling precedent requires
something above and beyond mere disagreement with its analysis,”
the Court noted.

In this regard, the Court refused to uproot the precedent set by the Massachusetts
rule. “We see no reason to consider the Massachusetts rule outdated.
It may be true that people today are living in closer proximity to one
another on smaller tracts of land than they were when the Massachusetts
rule was adopted in the early Twentieth Century,” the Court explained.
“But if changes in property ownership would lead us to believe that
tree owners are now better able to monitor their trees, the same would
be true for their neighbors to monitor and trim encroaching trees. It
may be easier to recognize impending or potential harm to one’s own
property from overhanging branches and intruding roots than it would be
for the tree owner to recognize what is happening next door. And even
if it is also true that trees today are more likely to cause property
damage to neighbors’ property, it would be ‘undesirable to categorize
living trees, plants, roots, or vines as a ‘nuisance’ to be abated.’”

If you have any questions about motor vehicle accidents, negligence matters,
personal injury law, tort law, intentional torts, damages, or other legal
incidents, please
contact our offices. You may schedule a free consultation with an experienced professional
today. Call 978-225-9030 during business hours or complete a contact form
online, and one of our
experienced personal injury attorneys will get back to you.