Law Alerts


SRBC periodically issues Law Alerts to inform its clients and friends about important developments in the law. These Alerts are, of course, not intended to be a substitute for legal advice about a particular case or issue. Each Alert identifies an SRBC attorney who can be contacted for more information about the issue presented.

February 03, 2017 -
Expanded Liability for Estate Planning Professionals? Superior Court decision in Hanna v. Williams opens new litigation avenue for disgruntled heirs
In denying a motion to dismiss in the case of Hanna v. Williams, the Business Litigation Session of the Superior Court has decided that settlement of a contested estate in the Probate and Family Court does not necessarily bar a subsequent suit for the tort of intentional interference ...
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December 19, 2016 -
3 Things You Need To Know About the Massachusetts Public Records Law
On January 1, 2017, for the first time in over four decades, the Massachusetts public records law will undergo a significant overhaul.  ...
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December 02, 2016 -
SJC Provides Alimony Deviation Guidelines
This case involves a Husband’s complaint for modification seeking a termination of his alimony obligation to his Wife after paying said obligation for a time period which surpassed the durational limits proscribed under the Alimony Reform Act.  The Trial Court Judge denied Husband’s ...
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August 11, 2016 -
SJC Reverses Appeals Court on Inclusion of Discretionary Trusts in Marital Estate
In a closely watched case involving the division of assets in a divorce, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court reversed a decision by a divided Appeals Court and reaffirmed the longstanding rule in Massachusetts that discretionary trusts are generally not ...
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August 01, 2016 -
Employment Law Alert: Pay Equity Act
On Monday, August 1, 2016, Massachusetts Governor Baker signed the Act to Establish Pay Equity  (“Pay Equity Act”) which will become effective July 1, 2018.  Below are the big takeaways for employers:

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July 29, 2016 -
#PokemonNO #CallYourLawyerFirst
Do You “Gotta Catch ‘Em All”?  Think Before You “Lure”
The smartphone game, “Pokémon GO,” is all the rage right now with adults and kids alike.  Retailers and hospitality-based businesses have gotten into the craze, declaring themselves to be “Pokéstops” and ...
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June 15, 2016 -
Opportunity for Profit in Failed Children’s Book Development Deal May Bar Coverage, Appeals Court Says
Insurance coverage for company directors and officers is typically limited by an exclusion for cases in which the insured executive gained a personal profit. In a recent case, the Massachusetts Appeals Court held that this exclusion can apply and bar coverage even where the executive merely ...
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June 10, 2016 -
Self-Help Discovery May Constitute Protected Activity
Verdrager v. Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky & Popeo, P.C., et al.

On May 31, 2016, in a case of first impression, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (“SJC”) ruled that an employee who accesses and copies confidential company documents and shares those documents ...
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June 06, 2016 -
Law Firms Primarily Engaged in Debt Collection Activities Are Not Required to Obtain a Debt Collector's License
On April 1, 2016, the Division of Banks for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (the “Division”) reversed course on the issue of whether a law firm that engages primarily in debt collection work must register as a debt collector in Massachusetts, and stated that the Division will not require law ...
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May 26, 2016 -
Constructive Discharge: Under Title VII, Limitations Period Starts When Employee Gives Notice of Resignation
On May 23, 2016, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in Green v. Brennan that the statute of limitations for a federal employee's constructive discharge claim under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 begins to run on the date the employee gives notice of his or her ...
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May 19, 2016 -
New DOL Overtime Rule Regarding "White Collar Exemptions" Key Provisions and Compliance Options
On May 18, 2016, the U.S. Department of Labor ("DOL") released its highly anticipated Final Rule Defining and Delimiting the Exemptions for Executive, Administrative, Professional, Outside Sales and Computer Employees (the "Final Rule").  The Final Rule extends overtime pay eligibility to ...
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March 14, 2016 -
SJC’s Esler Decision Is A Reminder of the FMLA’s “Proscriptive” Reach
In Esler v. Sylvia-Reardon and Massachusetts General Hospital, SJC-11899, 2015 WL 10435938 (Mar. 9, 2016),  the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (“SJC”) revived a verdict in favor of an employee who claimed that her employer’s refusal to reinstate her after she exhausted all ...
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March 08, 2016 -
Insurance Law Alert: Massachusetts SJC Rejects Doctrine of Selective Tender
In a March 7, 2016 decision, Ins. Co. of the State of Pennsylvania v. Great Northern Ins. Co., No. SJC-11897, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court confirmed that the Commonwealth recognizes claims for “equitable contribution” between co-insurers, but, as a matter of first ...
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March 07, 2016 -
Employment Law Alert: Bulwer v. Mount Auburn Hosp., No. SJC-11875, 2015 WL 10376073 (Mass. Feb. 29, 2016).
In a decision published on February 29, 2016, Bulwer v. Mount Auburn Hospital, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court clarified the evidentiary burden a plaintiff must meet to overcome a motion for summary judgment in an employment discrimination claim under Mass. Gen. Laws ...
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May 14, 2015 -
Attorney General Proposes Regulations on Sick Time
Massachusetts's Earned Sick Time law, passed by voters via ballot initiative last November, will take effect on July 1, 2015. The Office of the Attorney General has released proposed regulations to implement and clarify the scope of the new law. The ...
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September 08, 2014 -
Massachusetts Domestic Violence Leave Act
In August, Governor Patrick signed a new law providing leave for victims (or family members of victims) of domestic violence, “An Act Relative to Domestic Violence” (to be codified at M.G.L. c. 149, § 52E.). The law is effective immediately.

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September 05, 2014 -
MCAD Issues Annual Report
The MCAD recently issued its Annual Report for 2013 providing a useful window into the activities of the agency this past year.  The report reflects that, as in past years, the Commission remains woefully understaffed in relation to its workload, resulting in long delays in processing ...
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September 04, 2013 -
Malpractice Insurance Coverage for Lawyers Caught in Check Scams?

SRBC partner William Boesch recently helped a malpractice-insurer client to a summary-judgment victory before a New Hampshire federal district court, in a case involving a lawyer who unwittingly fell for a common type of e-mail scam and sought coverage under his professional liability policy to ...
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July 12, 2013 -
Supreme Judicial Court: In-Firm Communications Are Privileged

Entering what it acknowledged were “uncharted jurisprudential waters,” the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court on July 10 became the first last-resort appellate court anywhere in the United States to address whether the attorney-client privilege applies to communications between lawyers in ...
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June 04, 2013 -
Massachusetts Court Rules on Regulatory Violations and Chapter 93A
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has decided an important case on liability under the state’s consumer-protection statute, Chapter 93A. In Klairmont v. Gainsboro Restaurant, Inc., which involved the death of a college student after he fell down a flight of stairs at a bar, the ...
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April 02, 2013 -
Collection of Zip Codes by Massachusetts Retailers Constitutes Unfair Business Practice
Massachusetts's highest court has issued an important decision about the collection of zip-code information by retailers, a decision that is likely to generate more lawsuits against retailers who do business in Massachusetts.

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February 26, 2013 -
New FMLA Final Rule: Summary of Changes and Next Steps for Employers
On February 6, 2013, commemorating the 20th anniversary of the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”), the U.S. Department of Labor issued its Final Rule (the “2013 Regulations”) on the FMLA.  The 2013 Regulations become effective March 8, 2013.

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March 21, 2012 -
Appeals Court Upholds Negligence Finding in Knifing Incident, Permitting Insurance Recovery
The Massachusetts Appeals Court has upheld a finding in a superior court bench trial that a defendant who wielded a knife in a street fight, and stabbed an adversary three times—including fatally in the heart—acted negligently but not intentionally. The decision entitled the victim’s surviving ...
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February 15, 2012 -
Supreme Judicial Court Awards $22.6 Million in Punitive Damages for Insurer's Settlement Delays
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has once again emphasized the high stakes, under the state's consumer-protection statute, for an insurer who delays in settling a clear-liability case and allows the matter to go to trial. Read SRBC's analysis of the decision in Rhodes v. AIG Domestic ...
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February 13, 2012 -
Appeals Court: Insurer Protected From Liability For Conduct of Its Lawyer In Subrogation Case
A recent decision of the Massachusetts Appeals Court has extended the protection afforded to insurers against potential liability based on the conduct of the outside lawyers they hire. Read SRBC's assessment of Sandman v. Quincy Mutual Fire Ins. Co.
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May 12, 2011 -
Employment Law Alert: Expanding Federal Disabilities Law
New EEOC regulations that become effective May 24, following amendments by Congress to the Americans with Disabilities Act, will make important changes to federal disabilities law that will have a significant impact for employers. SRBC's employment lawyers summarize the changes in a new Law ...
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September 16, 2010 -
Product Liability Alert: Otis Elevator Liable for Defective Chinese Escalator
In a new Law Alert, SRBC's product liability group discusses a recent decision of the Massachusetts Appeals Court adopting a rule that makes the licensor of a trademark used on a product liable for personal injuries resulting from defects in the product--even if the licensor did not itself make or ...
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September 14, 2010 -
New Massachusetts Laws on Personnel Files, Criminal Records
In a new two-part Law Alert, SRBC's employment law group explains two recent pieces of Massachusetts legislation of significance to employers. Massachusetts law now requires that an employer notify an employee within ten days of placing negative information in the employee's personnel ...
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September 09, 2010 -
Federal Employment Law: New Rights for Nursing Mothers
As SRBC's employment group explains in a new Law Alert, a little-noticed provision of the recent federal healthcare legislation granted new rights to breastfeeding mothers in the workplace, and the U.S. Department of Labor has now added its guidance for employers on the requirements of the new ...
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August 31, 2010 -
First Circuit: Plaintiff Must Show Actual Harm From Pre-Employment Inquiry About Disability
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit has upheld the dismissal of a discrimination claim by a job applicant stemming from the prospective employer's inquiries about a prior workplace injury and worker's compensation claim. Although the inquiry violated the Massachusetts Fair Employment ...
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August 25, 2010 -
Massachusetts Court Limits Reach of Maternity-Leave Statute, Holds Employer's Attorneys Liable for Malpractice
In a new Law Alert, SRBC's employment law group writes about a recent decision of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (Global NAPs, Inc. v. Awiszus) which, in the context of a legal malpractice dispute, construed a Massachusetts statute that affords protection to employees who take ...
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August 03, 2010 -
Massachusetts Court Announces New Standard for Snow-and-Ice Cases
Since 1883, the rule in Massachusetts has been that a property owner cannot be liable to someone who slips and falls on a "natural accumulation" of snow or ice on his property. Natural accumulations were taken to be one of the commonly shared risks of winter in New England. Thus, a ...
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February 24, 2010 -
New Massachusetts Data-Security Regulations Take Effect
Massachusetts regulations taking effect March 1 will impose obligations on companies and others who maintain personal information about Massachusetts residents, including social security and bank-account numbers.
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August 09, 2009 -
Appellate Court: Employer Must Follow Employee Handbook
Employers who issue handbooks of policies and procedures to at-will employees frequently include disclaimers emphasizing that the contents are meant as guidelines and not terms of an employment contract. A Massachusetts appellate court recently found such a disclaimer ineffective, and upheld a jury ...
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August 09, 2009 -
Massachusetts High Court: Patent Lawyer Has Lien Against Client's Patent
Massachusetts has an attorney’s-lien statute providing that protects a lawyer who “appears for a client” in a court action or “any proceeding before any state or federal department, board or commission.”  The lawyer obtains an automatic “lien for his reasonable fees and expenses”—a lien ...
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July 10, 2009 -
First Circuit: Debtor Can't Sue Its Bank for Mismanagement Under
A third-party creditor of a defunct company may sometimes seek to hold the company's bank liable for contributing to its failure, by relying on a common-law "instrumentality" theory. Where permitted, such a theory allows direct recovery against a lender who asserts such extensive control over a ...
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July 10, 2009 -
Has The Appeals Court Shifted Course on Legal Malpractice Statute of Limitations?
A continuing source of uncertainty in legal malpractice cases has been application of the "discovery rule" in deciding when the statute of limitations for a client's malpractice claim begins to run. As SRBC's William Boesch writes in a new Law Alert, this uncertainty is unlikely to diminish after a ...
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July 01, 2009 -
Employer Must Pay Discharged Employees for Unused Vacation Time
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court recently held that an employer violates the Massachusetts Wage Act when it fails to pay a discharged employee for unused vacation time. SRBC's Andrea Studley Knowles discuss the decision (Electronic Data Systems Corp. v. Attorney General (June 11, ...
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April 30, 2009 -
Employment Law: New COBRA Amendments Explained
In a new Law Alert, SRBC's Jean Musiker and Andrew Kanter explain Washington's recent amendments to COBRA, the federal law that allows terminated employees to maintain health-insurance benefits. The amendments are part of the federal government's efforts to assist workers affected by the ...
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March 25, 2009 -
Superior Court: No Legal Malpractice Damages for Loss of Stock-Market Value
SRBC's William Boesch writes about a recent Massachusetts superior court decision rejecting a $60 million damages claim in a legal malpractice case, which was based on a decline in the client company's stock-market value after the SEC suspended trading in its stock. William is co-chair of the ...
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March 25, 2009 -
First Circuit: True Statement May Be Libelous If Made With
This law alert discuss the First Circuit's remarkable recent ruling in favor of a Staples employee who was fired for falsifying expense reports. The court held that a senior company executive's e-mail notifying employees of the termination could be the basis for a libel claim--even though what ...
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February 03, 2009 -
Court Holds Malpractice Insurer Should Have Defended Lawyer in Sanctions Proceeding
SRBC partner William Boesch writes on a recent Pennsylvania federal case holding that a professional liability insurance company that refused to defend a lawyer in a sanctions proceeding, on the ground that sanctions were not "damages" covered by the policy, thereby breached its insurance ...
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January 30, 2009 -
New FMLA Regulations Take Effect
New regulations recently took effect relating to the Family and Medical Leave Act. The regulations clarify and renumber some existing regulations, and impose new obligations on employers, employees, and medical providers with respect to FMLA leave. This Law Alert highlights some of ...
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December 10, 2008 -
First Circuit Allows New Lawsuit After Declaratory Judgment
SRBC discusses the First Circuit's recent decision in Andrew Robinson Int'l, Inc. v. Hartford Fire Ins. Co. that an insured who prevailed in a declaratory-judgment action against its insurer could then start a new lawsuit alleging violation of unfair claims-handling statutes.  ...
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July 31, 2008 -
SJC Says Purchase of Non-Compliant Product is Sufficient Harm for Consumer-Protection Claim
In a proposed consumer class action involving allegedly defective door handles on certain Ford vehicles, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has made clear that a consumer's purchase of a product that allegedly did not comply with federal safety standards would be a sufficient harm to ...
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July 01, 2008 -
SJC Considers Successor Liability After Asset Sale
When a corporation sells its assets to another, the general rule in Massachusetts is that the seller's liabilities are not automatically transferred with the assets. The buyer may, of course, agree to assume the seller’s liabilities, or may be deemed to have done so if the effort to avoid ...
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