Justia Massachusetts Supreme Court Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Transportation Law
Smiley First, LLC v. Dep’t of Transportation
In this case considering whether an easement (2018 easement) taken by eminent domain by the Department of Transportation (MassDOT) exceeded the scope of an easement taken in 1991 by the Department of Public Works (DPW), MassDOT's predecessor in interest, with respect to Plaintiff's land in South Boston (burdened land), the Supreme Judicial Court held that summary judgment was improperly granted for MassDOT.DPW's 1991 order of taking created an easement over the burdened land for purposes of constructing a haul road. In 2017, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority began planning the construction of a test track on a portion of Plaintiff's land burdened by the 1991 easement. MassDOT recorded the 2018 confirmatory order of taking and then, contending that the taking merely confirmed that rights it held under the 1991 taking, refused to pay Plaintiff any compensation. Plaintiff responded with this litigation, and the superior court judge entered summary judgment in favor of MassDOT. The Supreme Judicial Court reversed, holding (1) while the intent of the parties should not be considered when an easement is taken by eminent domain, the ordinary rules of interpretation for easements otherwise apply; and (2) because the 1991 easement was more limited in scope than the 2018 easement, summary judgment for MassDOT must be reversed. View "Smiley First, LLC v. Dep't of Transportation" on Justia Law
Casseus v. Eastern Bus Company, Inc.
The bus drivers in this case were not entitled to overtime payment because their employer was licensed and regulated pursuant to the common carrier statute.Plaintiff-bus drivers worked for Eastern Bus Company. Eastern Bus provided charter service, for which it must hold a license under the common carrier statute, and transportation of school students between home and school, which does not constitute charter service. The bus drivers, who performed both of these services, claimed that they were entitled to overtime payment because, among other things, the exemption to the Massachusetts overtime statute (see Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 151, 1A(11)) only applied during the hours Eastern Bus was providing charter service. The superior court concluded that Eastern Bus did not enjoy “a blanket exemption” for all employees, regardless of the particular duties they perform, that the overtime exemption did not apply, and that Plaintiffs were entitled to summary judgment on their claim for overtime wages. The Supreme Judicial Court reversed, holding that the bus drivers were not entitled to overtime payment because their employer was licensed and regulated pursuant to the common carrier statute. View "Casseus v. Eastern Bus Company, Inc." on Justia Law
Bay Colony R.R. Corp. v. Town of Yarmouth
The town of Yarmouth entered into a transportation contract with the Bay Colony Railroad Corporation whereby Bay Colony was to transport solid waste from the town’s waste transfer station to a facility in Rochester. The town later notified Bay Colony that it would terminate Bay Colony’s lease of certain rail lines, which meant that Bay Colony would no longer be able to transport the town’s waste by rail. A provision in the contract provided that, in the event the lease of the rail line was terminated, the town would permit Bay Colony to continue to transport the waste by “other modes of transportation.” Bay Colony notified the town that it would continue to transport waste by truck rather than rail. The town, however, began transporting its waste with the railroad operating company that was awarded the rail lease. A jury found that the town had committed a breach of the contract. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) the town’s affirmative defense that it was barred by Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 160, 70A from allowing Bay Colony to transport its waste by truck failed as a matter of law; (2) a permit issued to the town by the Department of Environmental Protection did not render Bay Colony legally unable to perform the contract after it lost its rail lease; and (3) the contract remained in effect at the time of the town’s breach. View "Bay Colony R.R. Corp. v. Town of Yarmouth" on Justia Law
Murphy v. MA Turnpike Auth.
Before 1997, the authority operated the Massachusetts Turnpike, the Boston extension of the turnpike, and the Sumner and Callahan Tunnels, crossing under Boston Harbor to connect downtown o the East Boston section. In 1997, while the massive "Big Dig" project was underway, the Legislature placed within authority stewardship the integrated system of roadways, bridges, tunnels, and other facilities known as the MHS, which included the Boston extension and the tunnels it had operated before, as well as the central artery, the central artery north area, and the Ted Williams Tunnel. G.L. c. 81A, 3. The authority was authorized to charge tolls "for transit over or through the [MHS] or any part thereof," and to adjust tolls so that, when supplemented by other revenues, they pay all the expenses of the MHS. The authority required drivers traveling through the Sumner and Williams Tunnels, and the Weston and Allston-Brighton interchanges of the Boston extension, to pay a toll, but did not charge a toll to drivers traveling through the Callahan Tunnel, the central artery, or the CANA. Plaintiffs claimed that tolls were unconstitutional to the extent they were spent on the nontolled portions of the MHS. The trial court dismissed. The Massachusetts Supreme Court affirmed. View "Murphy v. MA Turnpike Auth." on Justia Law