Select Massachusetts and federal court cases for "law about" pages: T-Z

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

Table of Contents

Taxation

Telemarketing

Tenants in foreclosed buildings

Tenants' security deposits

Testimonial and non-testimonial evidence in criminal cases

Note: Confrontation Clause jurisprudence is always evolving. Please update your research by checking for the latest cases on your particular issue.

Ticket reselling

Time

Bemis v. Leonard, 118 Mass. 502 (1875)
"In this Commonwealth, the general rule, as applied in a variety of circumstances, and now well established, is, that in computing time from the date, or from the day of the date, or from a certain act or event, the day of the date is to be excluded, unless a different intention is manifested by the instrument or statute under which the question arises."

Booker v. Chief Engineer of the Fire Department of Woburn, 324 Mass. 264 (1949)
"The word 'day' when not qualified means a calendar day...And a calendar day is the space of time that elapses between two successive midnights."

Comm. v. Melo, 65 Mass.App.Ct. 674 (2006)
Defendant challenged length of incarceration, arguing that the extra days in leap years must be counted. The court determined that "Simply stated, the defendant was sentenced to a term of years, not to a term of days or months, and a calendar year is one year of the defendant's sentence regardless of the number of days which comprises any particular year."

Leach v. Burr, 188 U.S. 510, 23 S. Ct. 393, 47 L. Ed. 567 (1903)
"A week is a definite period of time, commencing on Sunday and ending on Saturday."

Shaw’s Supermarkets, Inc. v. Melendez, 488 Mass. 338 (2021)
Court applied plain meaning of the word “all” in interpreting Supreme Judicial Court, Third Updated Order Regarding Court Operations Under the Exigent Circumstances Created by the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Pandemic (June 24, 2020) which tolled “all civil actions statutes of limitations”  to mean each and every civil statute of limitations, not just those where the statutory period of limitation expired between March 17, 2020, and June 30, 2020.

Stevenson v. Donnelly, 221 Mass. 161 (1915)
"In computing any period of time less than a week, Sunday is to be excluded ." Also: unless there is specific evidence to the contrary, days means full days and not "a projection of the exact hour of the first day permitted by the earlier statute to the same hour" on the final day.

Thayer v. Felt, 21 Mass. 354 (1826)
Where a time period is longer than one week, Sundays are counted unless they are expressly excluded.

Thornton v. Civil Service Commission, 80 Mass.App.Ct. 441 (2011)
The requirement for a hearing prior to a suspension of more than five days in the civil service laws, MGL c.31, s.41, "we conclude that the words "a period of five days" must be read... to describe a single, continuous period covering five twenty-four hour days."

Title 5

Traffic violations

Comm. v. Buckley, 478 Mass. 861 (2018) 
Pretextual stops. Police may stop a vehicle for an observed traffic violation, even if it is actually a pretext to investigate other crimes. 

Comm. v. Goncalves-Mendez, 484 Mass. 80 (2020)
Allowing passenger to take custody of vehicle. When police arrest a driver, and know that a passenger is a licensed driver, they should offer the driver the option of having the passenger take the car, rather than impounding it.

Comm. v. Larose, 483 Mass. 323 (2019)
Lane violation - moving onto shoulder. Moving from the travel lane onto the shoulder of the road, crossing the "fog line" marking the right side of the lane, without first determining that it is safe to do, is a lane violation.

Comm. v. Long, 485 Mass. 711 (2020)
Pretextual traffic stops and racial profiling.

Comm. v. Mansur, 484 Mass. 172 (2020)
Having an open container of alcohol in your vehicle is a civil, not criminal, offense.

Comm. v. Mongardi, 26 Mass. App. Ct. 5 (1988)
A person issued a citation for a civil Motor vehicle infraction has no right to jury trial.  

Comm. v. O'Leary, 480 Mass. 67 (2018)
Extensive discussion of the "no-fix" law, MGL c.90C, § 2.  "A Superior Court judge properly dismissed indictments charging the defendant with various  motor vehicle offenses, where a State police trooper did not give the defendant a copy of the  citation at the time and place of the violation, and where the nine-day delay in the issuance  of the citation, in the absence of any justification, contravened the antiabuse purpose of the  “no-fix” provision of G. L. c. 90C, § 2."

Comm. v. Ortiz, 478 Mass. 820 (2018)
A "driver's consent to allow police officers to search for narcotics or firearms 'in the vehicle' did not authorize an officer to search under the hood of the vehicle."

Comm. v. Rijo, 98 Mass. App. Ct. 871 (2020)
A charge of leaving the scene of an accident after causing personal injury, under G. L. c. 90, § 24 (2) (a 1/2) (1), requires proof that the defendant knew that personal injury or collision with a person occurred.

Crawford v. Blue, 271 F.Supp.3d 316 (2017)
Massachusetts' non-refundable $25 filing fee to challenge a motor vehicle ticket violates due process, and so motorists who successfully challenge their ticket before a Clerk-Magistrate are entitled to a refund of their $25 filing fee by the Registry of Motor Vehicles.

Gillespie v. City of Northampton, 460 Mass. 148 (2011)
"[T]he imposition of $275 in filing fees to obtain judicial review of a final decision of a municipal parking clerk regarding a parking citation [does not offend] the Massachusetts Constitution."

Police Department of Salem v. Sullivan, 460 Mass. 637 (2011)
Court OKs substantial filing fees to contest civil motor vehicle citations. In footnote 7, the court states, "the requirement in St.2009, c. 27, § 74, of a fifty dollar fee to appeal the clerk-magistrate's finding is in conflict with rule VII(b)(3) of the Trial Court Rules, the Uniform Rule on Civil Motor Vehicle Infractions (LexisNexis 2010–2011), which states that '[t]here shall be no filing fee for an appeal to a judge from the finding and disposition of a clerk-magistrate. We recognize that, where a court rule is in irreconcilable conflict with a statute, 'the statute supersedes the rule.'"

Trusts

Unemployment

Cape Cod Collaborative v. Director of the Department of Unemployment  Insurance, 91 Mass. App.Ct. 436 (2017)
Excellent summary of the principles of judicial review that apply to unemployment insurance cases.

Crane v. Commissioner of the Department of Employment and Training, 414 Mass. 658 (1993)
Employee bears burden of proof that he left for good cause attributable to employer.

DiGiulio v. Director of Dept. of Unemployment Assistance, 94 Mass. App. Ct. 292 (2018)
Under MGL c. 151A, § 25 (e), a claimant is not eligible to collect unemployment where their reason for leaving their job was to accompany a spouse who had been relocated.

New England Wooden Ware Corp. v. Commissioner of the Department of Employment and Training, 61 Mass. App Ct. 532 (2004)
Even though the employee violated the employer's policy designed to curb absenteeism, the policy was not uniformly enforced and he was therefore entitled to unemployment benefits. 

Still v. Commissioner of the Department of Employment and Training, 423 Mass. 805 (1996)
Includes discussion of the term "knowing violation" of an employer's rule or policy, as appearing in G. L. c. 1.51, s. 25(e)(2), which can provide the basis for the denial of unemployment benefits to a discharged employee. 

Torres v. Director of the Division of Employment Security, 387 Mass. 776 (1982)
“The Unemployment Insurance statute presumes eligibility unless the circumstances of a worker’s separation from employment fall within a particular statutory disqualification.”

Tri-County Youth Programs, Inc. v. Acting Deputy Director of the Division of Employment and Training, 54 Mass. App. Ct. 405 (2002)
Discrimination and sexual harassment. The Appeals Court held that (1) the “claimant resigned for good cause due to sexual harassment, and (2) fact that claimant's sexual assault was a foreseeable risk of her job at residential facility for emotionally troubled youth did not preclude claimant from receiving unemployment benefits after she resigned, alleging sexual harassment.”

Unions and collective bargaining

Board of Higher Education v. Commonwealth Employment Relations Board, 483 Mass. 310 (2019)
Approved a union contract provision that placed a cap on the percentage of classes taught by part time faculty at public colleges.

Boston Firefighters Union, Local 718, International Association of Fire Fighters, AFL-CIO, & others vs. City of Boston & another, 491 Mass. 556 (2023)
"...where awarding injunctive relief does not promote the public interest, the single justice abused her discretion in issuing the preliminary injunction because the potential harm to the city and the public resulting from the spread of COVID-19 clearly outweighed the economic harm to the employees."

Boston Housing Authority v. National Conference of Firemen and Oilers, Local 3, 458 Mass. 155 (2010) 
An "evergreen clause" extending the terms of a lapsed contract during negotiation, "was rendered invalid by G. L. c. 150E, § 7 (a), which prohibits extending the duration of a CBA beyond three years."

Branch v. Commonwealth Employment Relations Board, 481 Mass. 810 (2019)
Public employee unions can no longer collect agency fees from nonunion members but still continue to provide exclusive representation in negotiating wages and working conditions for nonmembers within their bargaining units.

Commonwealth v. Hunt, 45 Mass. 111, 4 Metcalf 111 (1842)
Case is considered a landmark decision in the legalization of labor unions. 

Department of Labor Relations-Commonwealth Employment Relations Board Recent Decisions, 2016-date.

Harris v. Quinn, 573 US 616 (June 30, 2014) 
Limiting agency fee. In a case involving a narrow class of employees, who are considered state employees only for the purposes of collective bargaining, but are otherwise not state employees, the court held that the "First Amendment prohibits the collection of an agency fee from Rehabilitation Program PAs who do not want to join or support the union."

Janus v. AFSME Council 31, __ US __ ; 138 S. Ct. 2448 (June 27, 2018)
Government workers who choose not to join unions may not be required to pay agency fees to the union for collective bargaining services.

Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination and Maureen Reed, Complainants v. Pipefitters Association of Boston, Local 537 and Leo Fahey, Respondents (2021)
Labor organizations must provide reasonable accommodation to its disabled members so they may participate in the Union's meetings.

NLRB v. Weingarten, 420 US 251 (1975)
Union members have a right to have a representative present if the interview may result in disciplinary consequences. "The right arises only in situations where the employee requests representation."

Unmarried couples and domestic partnerships

Vacation leave

Vaccination and immunization

Veterans

Allen v. Principi, 237 F.3d 1368 (Fed. Cir. 2001) 
38 U.S.C. § 1110, which precludes disability benefits for injuries caused by a veteran's alcohol or drug abuse, does not preclude benefits for a veteran whose alcohol or drug problem is a result of or evidence of a service-connected injury.

Casey v. Casey, 79 Mass. App. Ct. 623 (2011)
A veteran's disability benefits constitute income for purposes of child support.

Cushman v. Shinseki, 576 F.3d 1290 (Fed. Cir. 2009)
Veterans cannot be denied benefits without due process, including notice and fair opportunity to be heard.

D'Amico v. West, 209 F.3d 1322 (Fed. Cir. 2000) 
States the five elements of a claim for veterans’ disability benefits, as well as other information on eligibility.

Jeffrey Machado v. Goldberg, Suffolk Superior Court 1784CV02056 (December 24, 2018)
Decision ordered the state to reconsider its ruling that veterans with "other than honorable" discharges are not eligible for Welcome Home bonuses.

Stacy v. Stacy, 97 Mass. App. Ct. 160 (2020)
Federal law preempts Massachusetts courts from treating veterans' disability payments as marital property subject to equitable distribution.

U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims
Searchable opinions and orders as well as information on appeals, forms and rules.

Veterinary practice

Victims and witnesses of crimes

A brief history of Supreme Court cases regarding victim impact statements and the Eighth Amendment.

Booth v. Maryland, 482 U.S. 496 (1987)
The U.S. Supreme Court decided in Booth v. Maryland that the Eighth Amendment prohibits a sentencing jury in a death penalty case from considering victim impact evidence that does not directly relate to the circumstances of the crime including statements regarding opinions about the crime, the defendant, and the appropriate punishment.

Payne v. Tennessee, 501 U.S. 808 (1991)
The U.S Supreme Court held in Payne v. Tennessee that testimony in the form of a victim impact statements involving “the emotional impact of the crimes on the victim’s family” are admissible during the sentencing phase of a trial and, in death penalty cases, do not violate the Eighth Amendment.

Bosse v. Oklahoma, 580 U.S. ___ (2016)
The U.S Supreme Court clarified in Bosse v. Oklahoma that Payne v. Tennessee did not completely overrule Booth v. Maryland, and that victim impact statements including opinions on appropriate punishment are still in violation of the Eight Amendment.

Mass. Supreme Judicial Court cases

Commonwealth v. McGonagle, 478 Mass. 675 (2018)
"We all stand equal before the bar of justice, and it is neither cruel nor unusual or irrational, nor is it violative of a defendant's due process guarantees, for a judge to listen with intensity to the perspective of a crime victim" when making a sentencing decision.

Commonwealth v. Rand, 487 Mass. 811 (2021)
The Supreme Judicial Court ruled that statements a victim made to a 911 operator were nontestimonial in nature and could be used as evidence and their usage as such did not violate Rand's confrontation rights.

Commonwealth v. Potter, 39 Mass. App. Ct. 924 (1995)
Intimidation of witness.

Commonwealth v. Torres, 479 Mass. 641 (2018)
Victim compensation records are subject to normal discovery rules for confidential, third-party records.

Wages

Blake v. CRNC Operating, LLC, 2015 Mass. App. Div. 156 (2015)
A non-payment of wages claim may be brought in Small Claims Court when the amount claimed is up to $7000, even though the amount, when trebled, would exceed the $7000 limit.

Camara v. Attorney General, 458 Mass. 756 (2011)
An employer may not serve as the sole decision maker when assessing liability and damages if an employee is found to be at fault in an accident involving the employer’s vehicles, and then go on to deduct expenses from his or her wages in lieu of discipline. "Massachusetts law holds employee wages sacrosanct, and right or wrong, employers must think twice before getting creative with wage deduction policies." (Nicholas F. Ortiz, "What is a 'valid set-off' under the Massachusetts Wage Act?")

Hovagimian v. Concert Blue Hill, LLC, 488 Mass. 237 (2021)
Waitstaff are entitled to the proceeds of payments collected by a country club from banquet patrons that were designated as "service charges" pursuant to the Massachusetts Tips Act, MGL c. 149, § 152A.

Meshna v. Scrivanos, 471 Mass. 169 (2015)
No-Tipping Policy. "An employer would not be liable under MGL c.149, § 152A if it clearly communicates a no-tipping policy to customers, who nonetheless leave tips that are retained by the employer."

Norrell v. Spring Valley Country Club, Inc., 98 Mass. App. Ct. 57 (2020)
Detailed discussion of the application of the Tips Act, MGL c.149, § 152A, to service charges, specifically when an employer does not label a supplemental charge a service charge, tip or gratuity, but a reasonable patron would have understood it as such.

Reuter v. City of Methuen, 489 Mass. 465 (2022)
The Wage Act statute entitles employees to three times their late wages, regardless of whether the employer pays the employee before a lawsuit.

Tze-Kit Mui v. Massachusetts Port Authority, 478 Mass. 710 (2018)
The Appeals court concluded that payment for accrued, unused sick time is not the payment of "wages" under the Wage Act.

Viscito v. Nat'l Planning Corp., 34 F.4th 78 (2022)
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit recently agreed with the district court finding that the Massachusetts Wage Act did not apply to a person who mostly lived and worked in Florida. This case offers guidance for employers trying to determine what law applies to their out-of-state employees or "wandering workers."

Weems v. Citigroup Inc. & others, 453 Mass. 147 (2009)
"The Act (MGL c. 149, § 148) expressly states that holiday and vacation pay due under an agreement, as well as commissions that are definitely determined and due and payable to the employee are wages within the meaning of the act."

Wills and estates

Winter heating

Berman & Sons v. Jefferson, 379 Mass. 196 (1979)
Rent abatement begins when tenant gives notice to landlord  of State Sanitary Code violations such as loss of heat.

Conroy v. Toomay, 234 Mass. 384 (1920)
The tenant was not responsible for rent under a written lease, because there was a later oral agreement that the landlord would provide adequate heat and failed to do so.

Cruz Management v. Thomas, 417 Mass. 782 (1994)
Tenant was entitled to compensation from landlord for State Sanitary Code violations including inadequate heat.

Hamilton v. Transportation Management Corp., 10 Mass. App. Ct. 927 (1980)
“Even though the lease required maintenance of a thermostat in the tenant's suite, the judge found that the removal of the thermostat was not intended to deprive the tenant of the use and enjoyment of its suite.”

Jordan v. Goddard, 14 Mass. App. Ct. 723 (1982)
Landlord was found negligent for injuries suffered by tenant caused by a space heater fire.

Layes v. RHP Properties, 95 Mass. App. Ct. 804 (2019)
Operator of a manufactured home community was found responsible for repairing and replacing components of oil heating systems.

Lowery v. Robinson, 13 Mass. App. Ct. 982 (1982)
Even though landlord was not able to afford to buy heating oil, tenant could recover for loss of quiet enjoyment when heat was not supplied.

McGown v. Quincy Mutual Fire Insurance Co., 4 Mass. App. Ct. 813 (1976)
The terms of an insurance policy required heat to be maintained in a building. The insured was entitled to coverage for damage caused by burst pipes in the winter, because the insurance company did not prove the oil tank was empty.

Workers' compensation

Bermudez v. Dielectrics, Inc., 94 Mass. App. Ct. 491 (2018)
The Trial Court wrongfully dismissed the employee’s retaliatory termination complaint under MGL c. 152, § 75B(2) because she exercised a right afforded by the Workers’ Compensation Act when she filed against the employer.

Cahill's Case, 295 Mass. 538 (1936)
Worker's compensation for an employee who was required to do some work at home.

Camargo's Case, 479 Mass. 492 (2018)
Independent contractors. The definition of "employee" is different in the worker's compensation statute, MGL c.152, § 1, than in the independent contractor statute, MGL c.149, § 148B. When determining eligibility for worker's compensation, the definition in  MGL c.152, § 1, and not the definition in MGL c.149, § 148B, is used.

Caswell’s Case, 305 Mass. 500 (1940)
Court found that an employee was entitled to total disability compensation after the room of his place of employment collapsed on him during a hurricane. He was present in the room during the course of his employment and was hurt by contact with something directly connected with his employment, even though the cause (a storm) was not related to his employment.

DiCarlo v. Suffolk Construction Co., 473 Mass. 624 (2016)
The workers' compensation insurance company can get a lien against money you get from someone else for your workplace injuries, but they can't get a lien against money you got for pain and suffering.

Goodwin's Case, 82 Mass. App. Ct. 642 (2012)
A "major cause" need not be more than 50%, and in fact there may be more than one major cause.

Insurance Company of the State of Pennsylvania v. Great Northern Insurance Co., 473 Mass. 745 (2016)
If an employer is covered by 2 workers' compensation policies, but only provides notice of a claim to one of them, that company can still go after the second insurance company for contribution. Massachusetts does not recognize the "selective tender" exception to the doctrine of equitable contribution.

Madden’s Case, 222 Mass. 487 (1916)
To be eligible for worker’s compensation benefits, injury must come out of course of employment even if there was a previous condition. Fault by the employer is not a factor.

PERAC v. Contributory Retirement Board, 478 Mass. 832 (2018)
"Sick or vacation payments, when used to supplement workers' compensation, ... are not 'regular compensation' ... for purposes of calculating the effective date of an employee's accidental disability retirement."

Sikorski's Case, 455 Mass. 477 (2009)
"A teacher who was injured in a skiing accident while serving as a chaperone for a school ski club trip [was entitled to workers' compensation] where the employee's injury arose out of and in the course of her employment."

Wentworth v. Becker, 459 Mass. 768 (2011)
A worker injured by a subcontractor without workers' compensation insurance can collect workers' compensation from the general contractor, and that payment by the general contractor does not bar the employee from also suing the general contractor.

Wright's Case, 486 Mass. 98 (2020)
A workers’ compensation insurer cannot be compelled to pay for an employee's medical marijuana.

Zoning

Contact   for Select Massachusetts and federal court cases for "law about" pages: T-Z

Last updated: January 11, 2024

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