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The Attorney General’s decisions to certify Initiative Petition 17-07 and not to certify the related petition, Initiative Petition 17-08, were correct. Initiative Petition 17-07 would limit the number of patients who may be assigned to a registered nurse in the Commonwealth’s healthcare facilities and would prohibit facilities from reducing certain other healthcare staff. Initiative Petitioner 17-08 contained the same provisions as the first petition and added a section that would require publicly funded hospitals to make annual public disclosures of their financial assets. While certifying that the first petition met the requirements of article 48 of the Amendments to the Massachusetts Constitution, the Attorney General declined to certify the second petition on the grounds that the mandate for financial disclosure was not sufficiently related to or mutually dependent upon the other provisions in the petition. The Supreme Judicial Court held that the Attorney General’s decisions to certify Initiative Petition 17-07 and not to certify Initiative Petition 17-08 were in compliance with the requirements of article 48. View "Oberlies v. Attorney General" on Justia Law

Posted in: Constitutional Law

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Initiative Petition 15-17 should not have been certified by the Attorney General as “in proper form for submission to the people” because the petition did not contain only subjects “which are related or which are mutually dependent” pursuant to article 48 of the Amendments to the Massachusetts Constitution, as amended by article 74 of the Amendments. The initiative petition in this case would ask voters to decide whether to amend the existing flat tax rate mandated by the Massachusetts Constitution in order to impose a graduated tax on residents with incomes in excess of $1 million. The initiative petition provided that all revenues received from the proposed tax “shall" be earmarked for education and transportation, subject to appropriation by the legislature. Plaintiffs filed a complaint challenging the Attorney General’s certification of the initiative petition and seeking to enjoin the Secretary of the Commonwealth from placing the petition on the 2018 statewide ballot. The Supreme Judicial Court held that the petition may not be put before the people because it contained subjects that were not related. View "Anderson v. Attorney General" on Justia Law

Posted in: Constitutional Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed Defendant’s convictions for murder in the first degree on the theory of extreme atrocity or cruelty and other crimes, holding that, although certain of the prosecutor’s questions and comments concerning Defendant’s prearrest silence were improper, these errors did not create a substantial likelihood of a miscarriage of justice. The Court further held (1) there was ample evidence to support the prosecutor’s statement during closing argument that Defendant struck the victim repeatedly with a hammer; and (2) there was no error in the judge’s instructions on the lesser included offenses to murder in the first degree. View "Commonwealth v. Gardner" on Justia Law

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At issue was when a right of first refusal may be exercised under the terms of the agreements executed in connection with the project in this case. The parties here were partners in a limited partnership formed for the purpose of rehabilitating and operating an affordable housing complex under the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program set forth in 26 U.S.C. 42. Under the agreements executed in connection with the project, the majority owner of the general partner held a right of first refusal to purchase the partnership’s interest in the property in accordance with section 42(i)(7). Plaintiffs commenced this action seeking a declaratory judgment as to the parties’ rights under the relevant agreements, arguing that the right of first refusal could be exercised once a third party makes an enforceable offer to purchase the property interest. Defendants argued that the right of first refusal could not be exercised unless the partnership received a bona fide offer from a third party and decided, with the special limited partner’s consent, to accept that offer. The superior court granted summary judgment in favor of Plaintiffs. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that the superior court judge correctly granted summary judgment to Plaintiffs under the facts of this case. View "Homeowner's Rehab, Inc. v. Related Corporate V SLP, L.P." on Justia Law

Posted in: Contracts

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In this appeal arising from a construction contract dispute, the Supreme Court held (1) complete and strict performance is required for all construction contract terms relating to the design and construction itself, but ordinary contract principles, including the traditional Massachusetts materiality rule, apply to breaches of other provisions, such as the one at issue in this case governing payment certifications; and (2) as recovery sought under a theory of quantum meruit, good faith applies to the contract as a whole, and the intentional commission of breaches of individual contract provisions must be considered in the overall context. A superior court judge in this case concluded that Plaintiff was barred from seeking recovery on the contract or under quantum meruit because it intentionally filed false certifications of timely payments to subcontractors. It also concluded that Defendant could not maintain a fraud action against Plaintiff, in which it sought damages in addition to a payment Defendant had already withheld, because any recovery would be duplicative. The Supreme Judicial Court held (1) Plaintiff’s false certifications and intentional subcontractor payment delays constitute a material breach of the contract and precluded recovery for breach of contract; (2) disputed material facts precluded summary judgment on the quantum meruit claim; and (3) the dismissal of Defendant’s fraud claim against Plaintiff was error. View "G4S Technology LLC v. Massachusetts Technology Park Corp." on Justia Law

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Unpreserved arguments on appeals from sexual dangerous proceedings under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 123A are to be reviewed for a substantial risk of a miscarriage of justice. In 2011, Petitioner was committed to the Massachusetts Treatment Center as a sexually dangerous person pursuant to Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 123A, 12. In 2012, Petitioner filed a petition for examination and discharge. The jury found Petitioner continued to be sexually dangerous, and the trial court entered an order continuing his commitment. On appeal, Petitioner argued, among other things, that a written report of a psychological examination conducted one day before trial was improperly admitted at trial. In response, the Commonwealth argued that the issue was waived because Petitioner did not object to the report’s admission at trial. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) unpreserved arguments on appeals from sexual dangerous proceedings under chapter 123A are to be reviewed for a substantial risk of a miscarriage of justice; (2) the trial court did not err in admitting the report; and (3) trial counsel did not provide ineffective assistance. View "In re R.B." on Justia Law

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Neither a controlled affiliate nor the manager of a controlled affiliate is a “public employer” as defined in the Tort Claims Act (Act), Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 258, 2. Plaintiff allegedly injured himself when he slipped and fell while descending stairs at his apartment in a public housing development. Plaintiff filed a complaint against the Farmington Housing Authority (authority); Musterfield Place, LLC, a controlled affiliate of the authority, which owns the property (owner); and FHA Musterfield Manager, LLC, the managing agent for the owner (manager). The owner and manager moved for partial summary judgment arguing that they should be deemed public employers under the Act and therefore may not be held liable for damages in excess of $100,000. The trial judge denied the motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the owner and manager were not public employers under the facts of this case. View "Acevedo v. Musterfield Place, LLC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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A pharmacy has a limited legal duty to take reasonable steps to notify a patient and his or her prescribing physician of the need for prior authorization each time the patient tries to fill a prescription. Only the pharmacy, and not the physician or the patient, is notified by a health insurer when a prescribing physician must complete a prior authorization form and submit it to the insurer. In this case, prior authorization was necessary for Yarushka Rivera to obtain insurance coverage for Topamax, a medication she needed to control life-threatening seizures. When Rivera reached age nineteen, her insurer refused to pay for the prescription because it had not received the necessary prior authorization form. Rivera, who was unable to afford the medication without insurance, suffered a fatal seizure at the age of nineteen. Plaintiff brought this action for wrongful death and punitive damages against Walgreen Eastern Co., Inc. The superior court concluded that Walgreens had no legal duty to Rivera to notify Rivera’s prescribing physician of the need for prior authorization. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Walgreens owed a legal duty of care to take reasonable steps to notify Rivera and her prescribing physician of the need for prior authorization each time Rivera tried to fill her prescription. View "Correa v. Schoeck" on Justia Law

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At issue was whether Defendant, who operated a motor vehicle after his license was administratively suspended pursuant to Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 90, 24(1)(f)(2), was properly charged under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 90, 23, third paragraph. Section 23, third paragraph proves for a mandatory minimum sentence of sixty days in a house of correction on a conviction of operating a motor vehicle after the suspension or revocation of an individual’s driver’s license for operating while under the influence (OUI). The trial judge dismissed the OUI portion of the charge, concluding that section 23, third paragraph did not apply to Defendant. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that Defendant was not properly charged because section 24(1)(f)(2) is not enumerated in section 23, third paragraph. View "Commonwealth v. Nascimento" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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At issue was whether Defendant, who operated a motor vehicle after his license was administratively suspended pursuant to Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 90, 24(1)(f)(2), was properly charged under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 90, 23, third paragraph. Section 23, third paragraph proves for a mandatory minimum sentence of sixty days in a house of correction on a conviction of operating a motor vehicle after the suspension or revocation of an individual’s driver’s license for operating while under the influence (OUI). The trial judge dismissed the OUI portion of the charge, concluding that section 23, third paragraph did not apply to Defendant. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that Defendant was not properly charged because section 24(1)(f)(2) is not enumerated in section 23, third paragraph. View "Commonwealth v. Nascimento" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law