Select Massachusetts and federal court cases for "law about" pages: E-F

Includes case law, selected and curated by the Trial Court law librarians, on popular legal topics.

Table of Contents


Elders' issues

Elections and voting

1A Auto, Inc. v. Director of the Office of Campaign and Political Finance, 480 Mass. 423 (2018)
"Massachusetts's current ban on corporate contributions, G. L. c. 55, § 8, prohibits business corporations and other profit-making entities from making contributions with respect to State or local candidates."

Anderson v. Attorney General, 479 Mass. 780 (2018)
Ballot questions must address topics "which are related or which are mutually dependent."

Brnovich v. Democratic Nat'l Comm., 594 U.S. ___, 141 S.Ct. 2321 (2021)
Arizona rule requiring in-person voters to vote in their assigned precincts did not violate the Voting Rights Act.

Chelsea Collaborative v. Secretary of the Commonwealth, 480 Mass. 27 (2018)
"[C]ourt concluded that a twenty-day voter registration blackout period prior to an election is not a substantial enough interference with the right to vote to justify the application of strict scrutiny…where the deadline does not disenfranchise any voter, where the Commonwealth takes sufficient steps to minimize the number of qualified voters who miss it, and where registration itself is sufficiently simple and accessible."

Chiafalo v. Washington, 591 U.S. ___, 140 S.Ct. 2316 (July 6, 2020) 
"A State may enforce an elector's pledge to support his party's nominee--and the state voters' choice--for President" and "penalize an elector for breaking his pledge and voting for someone other than the presidential candidate who won his State's popular vote."

Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 558 U.S. 310 (2010)
"The Government may regulate corporate political speech through disclaimer and disclosure requirements, but it may not suppress that speech altogether."

Crawford v. Marion County Election Board, 553 U.S. 181, 128 S.Ct. 1610 (2008)
In a 6-3 split, the US Supreme Court upheld an Indiana law "requiring citizens voting in person to present government-issued photo identification."

Libertarian Association of Mass. v. Secretary of the Commonwealth, 462 Mass. 538 (2012)
Substitution of candidate. Interprets G.L. c. 53 § 14, concerning filling the vacancy of a candidate nominated for "state, city, or town office."

Lyons v. Secretary of the Commonwealth, 490 Mass. 560 (2022)
The Legislature "did not act beyond its plenary constitutional authority" in enacting a law expanding access to voting in the Commonwealth.

McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, 572 U.S. 185 (2014)
The Supreme Court concluded that "aggregate limits, [which restrict] how much money a donor may contribute in total to all candidates or committees," are "invalid under the First Amendment."

Moore v. Harper, 600 U.S. 1, 143 S. Ct. 2065 (2023)
"The Elections Clause does not vest exclusive and independent authority in state legislatures to set the rules regarding federal elections."

Minnesota Voters Alliance v. Mansky, 585 U.S. ___, 138 S. Ct. 1876 (2018)
Dress code for voters. Minnesota law prohibiting voters from wearing political items inside a polling place on Election Day is unconstitutional.

Electronic discovery

Emancipation of minors

Eminent domain

Employee privacy

Employee uniforms

Employment leave for domestic violence

Employment termination

Barbuto v. Advantage Sales and Marketing, LLC, 477 Mass. 456 (2017)
"The issue on appeal is whether a qualifying patient who has been terminated from her employment because she tested positive for marijuana as a result of her lawful medical use of marijuana has a civil remedy against her employer. We conclude that the plaintiff may seek a remedy through claims of handicap discrimination in violation of G. L. c. 151B, and therefore reverse the dismissal of the plaintiff's discrimination claims."

Brookline v. Alston, 487 Mass. 278 (2021)
"The Civil Service Commission, in the context of its analysis whether a tenured firefighter was fired without just cause in violation of basic merit principles, could consider evidence of discriminatory or retaliatory conduct more typically addressed in the context of a claim under G. L. c. 151B."

Electronic Data Systems Corp. v. Attorney General & another, 454 Mass. 63 (2009)
"The Wage Act requires that an employer pay an employee for unused vacation time remaining at the time of the employee's involuntary discharge..."

Knous v. Broadridge Fin. Sols. Inc., 991 F.3d 344 (2021)
"[A] 'discharge from employment' under the Wage Act 'occurs upon the severance of the employment relationship,' not merely when an employer instructs an employee to stop performing work."

Lawless v. Steward Health Care System, LLC, 894 F.3d 9 (1st Cir. 2018)
"So viewed, the Wage Act establishes a mandatory obligation to pay an employee any accrued 'wages' by the day of her discharge. An employee who does not receive her due wages by that date--even an employee who is paid in full a day later--suffers a cognizable injury within the purview of the statute."

Meehan v. Medical Information Technology, Inc., 488 Mass. 730 (2021)
"Termination of an at-will employee simply for filing a rebuttal expressly authorized by G. L. c. 149, § 52C, constitutes a wrongful discharge in violation of public policy."

Mui v. Massachusetts Port Authority, 478 Mass. 710 (2018)
Payment for accrued, unused sick time does not count as "wages" under the Wage Act, G. L. c. 149, §§ 148, 150.

Reuter v. City of Methuen, 489 Mass. 465 (2022)
In a civil action in which the plaintiff, a custodian at a school, alleged that the defendant city violated the Wage Act, G. L. c. 149, § 148, in not paying her accrued vacation time on the day that the defendant terminated the plaintiff's employment, the judge erred in limiting damages to treble interest on the vacation pay not paid until three weeks after the termination, where the express language of G. L. c. 149, § 150, required trebling the amount of late-paid wages as liquidated damages, but there was no support in § 150 for an award of interest, and an award of interest was inconsistent with the purpose of the Wage Act.

Engagement rings



Adjartey v. Housing Court Central Division, 481 Mass. 830 (2019)
Provides a long review of the housing court eviction process. This case explains the procedure to be followed to waive court fees and costs, and includes an appendix explaining the eviction process in depth.

Boston Housing Authority v. Y.A., 482 Mass. 240 (2019)
Even though the tenant did not tell her landlord that domestic violence was one reason she couldn't pay her rent, she did mention it in court to the judge, and so the judge should have asked further questions to decide if the tenant was entitled to protection under the Violence Against Women Act, 34 U.S.C. §§ 12291 et seq.

Cambridge Street Realty, LLC v. Steward, 481 Mass. 121 (2018)
A defective notice to quit does not affect Housing Court's jurisdiction. The SJC held "we make explicit today that a defective notice to quit 'represents merely the failure to comply with a condition precedent to suit and cannot properly be said to affect the court's jurisdiction.'"

Davis v. Comerford, 483 Mass. 164 (2019)
Discusses at length the liability of a "tenant at sufferance" (a tenant who stays after their lease or tenancy at will has expired)  for "use and occupancy" payments, the equivalent of rent while an eviction proceeding is going on.

Glendale Associates v. Harris, 97 Mass. App. Ct. 454 (2020)
A landlord who chooses to get an order to vacate under M.G.L. c.139, § 19, rather than an eviction under c.239, is bound by the 30-day appeals period in c.139. Also, in this case, the Housing Court required an unreasonable plan as an accommodation of the tenant's disability, and so the case was remanded back to Housing Court. 

Lenders Commercial Finance LLC v. Pestilli, et al, Southeast Housing Court (Feb. 3, 2017)
A bank that purchased a home at foreclosure could not evict the former owners with just a 30-day notice to quit. "The Court finds that there is no evidence in this action that there was ever any agreement between the parties for the defendant to pay any rent to the plaintiff, or for any definite rental period. Accordingly, the court finds that G.L. c. 186, s.12 requires that the plaintiff terminate the defendant's tenancy at will by service of a 90 Day Notice to Quit for possession."

Meikle v. Nurse, 474 Mass. 207 (2016) 
The SJC held that "a violation of the security deposit statute... may be asserted as a defense to a landlord's possession in a summary process action under G. L. c. 239, § 1A" However, "The statute does not impose an obligatory tenancy on the landlord. Nothing in the statute prevents the landlord from bringing a second summary process action for possession after he or she has remedied the violation of the security deposit statute."

Rental Property Management Services v. Hatcher, 479 Mass. 542 (2018)
"Where the plaintiff in a summary process action is neither the owner nor the lessor of the property, the court must dismiss the complaint with prejudice for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, regardless of whether a motion to dismiss has been presented by the defendant."

Youghal LLC v. Entwistle, 484 Mass 1019 (2020)
[A] notice taped to a door is not “given to the tenant” until the tenant receives actual or constructive notice of it.” Landlord’s summary process complaint was “dismissed because the summary process summons and complaint were served before the full fourteen-day period provided in the notice to quit had elapsed.”

Eyewitness identification

Commonwealth v. Bastaldo, 472 Mass. 16 (2015)
Witnesses have more difficulty identifying persons of other races. “In criminal trials that commence after the issuance of this opinion, a cross-racial instruction should always be included when giving the model eyewitness identification instruction, unless the parties agree that there was no cross-racial identification.” 

Commonwealth v Collins, 470 Mass. 255 (2014) 
“[W]here an eyewitness who was present during the commission of a crime has made something less than an unequivocal positive identification of the defendant ... before trial, an in-court showup identification by the witness will be admissible ... only where there is 'good reason' for its admission, with the burden placed on the Commonwealth to move in limine to admit such an identification and, subsequently, on the defendant to show that the identification would be unnecessarily suggestive and that there is not 'good reason' for it."

Commonwealth v. Crayton, 470 Mass. 228 (2014) 
1 of 2 cases that preceded the Gomes case addressing new procedures for in-court identification. Bars “first-time in-court showups where there is no ‘good reason’ for such a showup....[W]e place the burden on the prosecutor to move in limine to admit the in-court identification of the defendant by a witness where there has been no out-of-court identification.  Once the motion is filed, the defendant would continue to bear the burden of showing that the in-court identification would be unnecessarily suggestive and that there is not ‘good reason’ for it.”  

Commonwealth v. Dew, 478 Mass. 304 (2017)
"We take this opportunity to clarify the standard governing in-court identifications preceded by an admissible out-of-court identification.  In-court identifications will not be permitted (absent good cause) where a witness participated in an out-of-court identification procedure that "produced something less than an unequivocal positive identification."   A witness makes an "unequivocal positive identification" when he or she successfully identifies the defendant as the perpetrator, such that the statement of identification is clear and free from doubt...Finally, we set forth an alternative theory for a trial judge to consider in deciding whether to permit an eyewitness to identify a defendant in the court room." 

Commonwealth v. German, 483 Mass. 553 (2019)
Requiring the police to instruct a witness prior to a “showup” identification.  

Commonwealth v. Gomes, 470 Mass. 352 (2015) 
SJC ruled that eyewitness testimony is faulty and juries must be instructed on 5 “generally accepted” scientific principles regarding eyewitness identification. Includes a provisional jury instruction regarding eyewitness identification. 

Commonwealth v. Johnson, 473 Mass. 594 (2016)
A judge may suppress an identification where the out-of-court identification arises from "highly or especially suggestive circumstances," even though it occurred through no fault of the police.

Family and medical leave

Famous cases

Flood insurance

Fortune tellers

Freedom of information and public records

Attorney General v. Plymouth County District Attorney, 484 Mass. 260 (2020)
"We conclude that the data sought by the Globe from the district attorneys would be 'specifically or by necessary implication exempted from disclosure' under the CORI act if the individuals whose cases were tracked by this data could be directly or indirectly identified, because a criminal history of these individuals could then be compiled from this data that may be more extensive than what members of the public are permitted to obtain under the CORI act. We also conclude that if the court case docket number (docket number) for each case were segregated and redacted from the remaining categories of information, these individuals could not be directly or indirectly identified from this data. We also conclude that a request such as this, which requires the extraction of categories of information from an existing database, does not impose burdens on public record holders that exceed what is required under the public records law."

Boston Globe Media Partners v. Chief Justice of the Trial Court, 483 Mass. 80 (2019)
"[We] conclude that there is not a presumptive right of public access to the records of all show cause hearings where a judicial officer finds probable cause to believe that the accused has committed a crime but declines to issue a criminal complaint. We recognize, however, that there are circumstances in which the interests of justice would require the records of particular show cause hearings to be made publicly available on request."

Boston Globe Media Partners v. Dept. of Criminal Justice Information Services, 484 Mass. 279 (2020)
"We also conclude that, had the law enforcement agencies asserted the privacy exemption…these records would not be exempt from disclosure where the subjects of the requested records are public officials and the public interests in disclosure substantially outweigh the privacy interests in rehabilitation and reintegration furthered by the CORI act. There is a substantial public interest in the disclosure of police incident reports regarding alleged offenses by police officers and public officials that do not result in arraignment."

Boston Globe Media Group, LLC v. Dept. of Public Health, 482 Mass. 427 (2019)
"It follows from these cases, and from our recognition today that there may be a greater privacy interest in a compilation of personal information than in the discrete information that a compilation summarizes, that the availability of a requested compilation itself, not merely the availability of information that makes up the compilation, will significantly reduce the privacy interest in that compilation."

Champa v. Weston Public Schools, 473 Mass. 86 (2015)
"We conclude that the settlement agreements, regarding placement of students in out-of-district private educational institutions, are exempt from the definition of "public records" in G. L. c. 4, § 7, Twenty-sixth. The agreements qualify as "education records" under…Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), and as such, fit within exemption (a) of the definition of “public records,” G. L. c. 4, § 7, Twenty-sixth (a) (exemption [a]). The settlement agreements also contain information that relates to specifically named individuals, the disclosure of which may qualify as an 'unwarranted invasion of personal privacy,' and therefore fit within exemption (c), G. L. c. 4, § 7, Twenty-sixth (c) (exemption [c]). We further conclude, however, that the settlement agreements may be redacted to remove personally identifiable information they contain, after which they become subject to disclosure under G. L. c. 66, § 10, the Massachusetts public records law."

Comm. v. Fremont Investment and Loan, 459 Mass. 209 (2011)
"We conclude that the public records action judge held properly that the public records law does not abrogate judicial protective orders…"

Comm. v. Fujita, 470 Mass. 484 (2015)
This court concluded that the public's long-term interest in maintaining an open judicial process, as embodied in the United States Constitution and Massachusetts common law, required that a list identifying the names of jurors who have been empaneled and rendered a verdict in a criminal case be retained in the court file of the case and be made available to the public in the same manner as other court records; further, this court concluded that only on a judicial finding of good cause, which may include a risk of harm to the jurors or to the integrity of their service, may such a list be withheld.

DaRosa v. New Bedford, 471 Mass. 446 (2015)
"We no longer hold to the view declared in General Electric [v. DEP, 429 Mass. 798 (1999)] that there are no implied exemptions to the public records act, and that all records in the possession of a governmental entity must be disclosed under the act unless they fall within one of the exemptions identified in G. L. c. 4, § 7, Twenty-sixth."

Food Marketing Institute v. Argus Leader Media, __ U.S. __ (June 24, 2019)
"Where commercial or financial information is both customarily and actually treated as private by its owner and provided to the government under an assurance of privacy, the information is 'confidential' within [the Freedom of Information Act] Exemption 4's meaning."

Hull Municipal Lighting Plant v. Massachusetts Municipal Wholesale Electric Co., 414 Mass. 609 (1993)
"Public records are broadly defined and include all documentary materials made or received by an officer or employee of any corporation or public entity of the Commonwealth, unless one of nine statutory exemptions is applicable. G. L. c. 4, § 7, Twenty-sixth (a)-(l)…On request public records are subject to mandatory disclosure. See G. L. c. 66, § 10 (b). Statutory exemptions are strictly construed and the custodian of the document has the burden of proving that the requested document is not within the purview of a public record."

Lambert v. Judicial Nominating Council, 425 Mass. 406 (1997)
"Questionnaires completed by applicants for judicial appointment and submitted to the Governor through the Judicial Nominating Council (JNC) are not public records under G. L. c. 4, § 7, Twenty-sixth."

Larrabee v. Mass. Commission Against Discrimination, 96 Mass. App. Ct. 516 (2019)
"In a civil action challenging a decision of the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (commission) denying the plaintiff's public records request (for discrimination complaints and case data without regard to whether investigation of those charges was open or closed), a Superior Court judge erred in granting summary judgment in favor of the commission, where neither G. L. c. 151B, § 5, a provision of the Massachusetts antidiscrimination statute nor 804 Code Mass. Regs. § 1, created an exemption to the definition of public records…"

Rahim v. District Attorney of Suffolk County, 486 Mass. 544 (2020)
"[M]aterials that a district attorney requested and received from the Federal Bureau of Investigation were public records within the meaning of G. L. c. 66, § 10."

Suffolk Construction v. Dept. of Capital Asset Management, 449 Mass. 444 (2007)
Confidential communications between public officers and employees and governmental entities and their legal counsel, undertaken for the purpose of obtaining legal advice or assistance, are protected under the normal rules of the attorney-client privilege…and the provisions of the public records law…did not extinguish the protection provided by the attorney-client privilege to records made or kept by public officers or employees and governmental entities subject to that law.

Worcester Telegram & Gazette v. Chief of Police of Worcester, 58 Mass. App. Ct. 1 (2003)
"[M]aterials in an internal affairs investigation are different in kind from the ordinary evaluations, performance assessments and disciplinary determinations encompassed in the public records exemption for 'personnel [file] or information.'"

Frivolous (abusive) litigation

Contact for Select Massachusetts and federal court cases for "law about" pages: E-F

Last updated: October 3, 2023

Help Us Improve with your feedback