Municipal Law News

Coronavirus – Materials, Links, Resources

 MATERIALS, LINKS, OTHER RESOURCES-
MUNICIPAL LEGAL ISSUES RELATING TO THE COVID-19 VIRUS
(updated 3/30/20)

From what you have shared with us on MMLA’s ListServ we have been able to identify and publicize information important to public sector attorneys and their municipal clients during this COVID-19 pandemic.  MMLA thanks all who have contributed to this effort. 

Open Conference CallWednesday, April 1:  2:00 PM to 3:00 PM ,>.  Our Wednesday, April 1 (no fooling) Covid-19 Conference Call will feature a discussion on legislative issues of interest to municipal counsel.  The call will be moderated by David Shapirto, Esq. and our presenters will be MMLA member Lauren Goldberg, Esq. andMMLA Legislative Chair Matthew Feher, Esq., both of K-P Law in Boston.  The presentation will cover recent legislation and pending legislation on municipal issues, such as moving  local elections, open meeting law, moving annual town meetings, etc, as well as an opportunity for you to suggest other areas of legislation that is needed to deal with the current situation.  We value your thoughts. Conference Call Telephone Number is 712-451-0833, and the Conference Code is:  476090#

[ State House – Bill Tracker:  Click here to search for bills pending in the Massachusetts Legislature ]

LegislationH 2612, Amending S. 2619   Suggested by Dan Skrip (3/3020)

Legislation:  Senate passes  S.2619 – Challenges faced by municipalities – changes to H.4598.  (3.30/20)

Executive Order No. 17Order Suspending State Permit Deadlines and Extending Validity of State Permits.  Suggested by Crystal Barnews.  (3/30/20)

Emergency Responders & Health Care Providers:  DOL- Excerpts from Agency Q &A document.   Suggested by Amanda Kellar,IMLA.  (3.30.20)

Legislation:    House passes “H.4598 – An Act to address challenges faced by municipalities and state authorities resulting from COVID-19.” (3/27/20)

CARES UPDATESenate version as of 3/26/20. Suggested by Chuck Thompson, IMLA.  (3/26/20)

Key Federal and State Developments:  Memo of Tad Heuer of Foley, Hoag on:  COVID-19 Key Federal and State Developments.  Suggested by David Shapiro –  Updated through 3/30/20.

Governor’s Legal OfficeGuidance on Governor’s EO of 3/23/20 on Essential Services, Workplace Closings, Gatherings:  Construction Sites, Workers at All Public Work.   Suggested by Tad Heuer.  (3/25/20)

DOL Wage & Hour DivisionDOL Wage & Hour Division Required Poster.  Submitted by Jim Cosgrove.  (3/25/20)

Approval of Warrants:   DLS Memo on Approval of Warrants under G.L. c. 41, Sec. 56.  Suggested by Patricia Hunt.  (3/25/20)

Emergency Paid Sick & FMLA LeaveDOL Initial Guidance on How to Implement Emergency Paid Sick and Paid FMLA Leave.  Memo of Jeff Nowak of Litter Mendelson.  Suggested to Jim Cosgrove.  (3/25/20)

Governor’s Poposed Legislation:   Governor Baker’s Bill – House Docket No. 4974.-  Challenges Faced by Municipalities.  (3/24/20).  See Summary of bill. (3/24/2000)

Cannabis Control CommissionCease & Desist Order No. 2020AM-0001.  Licensed Marijuana Establishments, Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers conducting adult-use retail at non-colocated premises.   935 CMR 500.350.  Suggested by Jim Cosgrove (3/24/20)

Workplace:  AG’s Fair Labor Division FAQ on:  COVID-19 – Employee Rights and Employer Obligations (undated). Suggested by Kay Hodge.  (3/23/20)

Legislation:  H.4580 (formerly H.4572) – Text of bill addressing challenges in municipal governance resulting from COVID-19.  As reported out by Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government.  Suggested by Rebekah Lacey.  (3/23/20)

Elections:  S.2608 – .Summary of Bill as sent to the Governor.  Submitted Anthony Savastano.  (3/23/20)

Governor’s Emergency OrderALERT
Link to Emergency Services & Revised Gatherings Order – (3/23/20) …
Link to Order Exhibit ACOVID-19 ESSENTIAL SERVICES EXHIBIT A OF THE ORDER OF THE GOVERNOR ASSURING CONTINUED OPERATION OF ESSENTIAL SERVICES IN THE COMMONWEALTH, CLOSING CERTAIN WORKPLACES AND PROHIBITING GATHERINGS OF MORE THAN 10 PEOPLE (3/23/20)
Link to DPH’s Revised Guidance on Assemblages of More than 10 People (3/23/20)

Emergency Expenditures:  DLS ALERT –  DLS Bulletin 2020-1  Emergency Expenditures Relating to COVID-19.  DOR Division of Local Services.  Here is the full text of the bulletin: BUL-2020-1 (3/20/20) Submitted by Patricia Hunt.  (3/23/20)

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SJC: ATTORNEY GENERAL v. DISTRICT ATTORNEY FOR PLYMOUTH DISTRICT

Keywords:  Public Records. Criminal Offender Record Information. District Attorney

[Excerpt] – “A reporter for Boston Globe Media Partners, LLC (Globe), made a public records request pursuant to G. L. c. 66, § 10 (public records law) to each of the offices of the Commonwealth’s eleven district attorneys and to the office of the Attorney General for information stored in an internal electronic case database maintained by each of these offices (database).  Specifically, the Globe sought data tables containing the following twenty-three categories of information for each criminal case tracked by the district attorneys and the Attorney General in their databases:

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SJC: BOSTON GLOBE MEDIA PARTNERS v. DEPT. of CRIMINAL JUSTICE INFORMATION SERVICES

KeywordsPublic Records. Criminal Offender Record Information. State Police. Police, Records. Municipal Corporations, Police, Public record. Privacy

[Excerpt] – “In the summer of 2012, the State police arrested a Barnstable law enforcement officer for operating a motor vehicle while under the influence.  The State police arrested a Tewksbury police officer for the same offense in August 2014.  Following this second incident, a reporter for Boston Globe Media Partners, LLC (Globe), made public records requests to the State police, seeking booking photographs and police incident reports related to the arrests.  The State police refused to comply with the requests, claiming that the records were “criminal offender record information” (CORI), as defined in G. L. c. 6, § 167, and therefore were not “public records,” as defined in G. L. c. 4, § 7, Twenty-sixth, because they were “specifically or by necessary implication exempted from disclosure by statute.”  The Globe also requested a police incident report involving an investigation into whether a District Court judge had taken another passenger’s watch from a bin at a security checkpoint at Logan International Airport.  The State police denied that request on the same basis.

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Appeals Court: MARIANNE BAPTISTE v. EXEC. OFFICE OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

KeywordsConstitutional Law. Civil Rights, Supervisory liability, Immunity of public official. Massachusetts Tort Claims Act. Governmental Immunity. Commonwealth, Claim against, Liability for tort. Department of Youth Services

On February 28, 2020, the Appeals Court upheld the dismissal of a suit raising issues of supervisory liability, deliberate indifference, and negligence/public duty rule.  The suit involved various claims against two state agencies and certain employees.

Click here for the full text of the Court’s decision.

SCJ: KATHERINE DRAKE v. TOWN OF LEICESTER

Keywords:   Massachusetts Tort Claims Act. Notice, Claim under Massachusetts Tort Claims Act, Timeliness. Practice, Civil, Presentment of claim under Massachusetts Tort Claims Act, Motion to dismiss. Negligence, Municipality, School. Municipal Corporations, Liability for tort, Notice to municipality. Mail

“Before suing a public employer for negligence, claimants must present their claim to the requisite public officer within two years of their alleged injury.  See G. L. c. 258, § 4.  Exactly two years after the claim arose, on Friday, January 19, 2018, Drake mailed her presentment letter, via certified mail, to the defendant, the town of Leicester (town). The town received Drake’s presentment letter on Monday, January 22, 2018.  The town denied liability for Drake’s injuries on February 7, 2018, and Drake commenced this negligence action against the town the following month.” (Emphasis added)  The SJC confirmed the lower court’s decision for the Town, noting that:  “To lay or to put an item, such as a presentment letter, before another, the receiving person or entity must have the opportunity to observe the item.  Placing the presentment letter in the mail, certified or otherwise, does not constitute proper presentment under G. L. c. 258, § 4, as that act alone would not provide the proper executive officer the opportunity to observe the letter.”

Click here for the full text of the Court’s decision.

Appeals Court: ROBERT MURPHY vs. BOARD OF APPEAL OF BILLERICA

Keywords:   Zoning, Lot size. Real Property, Merger. Trust, Revocable trust

The Appeals Court on February 18, 2020 affirmed a decision of the Land Court in a merger case.  Landowner claimed the land continued to have grandfather protection and that the ZBA erred in upholding a denial of a building permit due to inadequate lot size.  At the time the land had become non-conforming there was a more generous zoning provision that insulated the property from merger.  However, several years later that “anti-merger” provision was eliminated.  Landowner claimed the protection from merger continued.  ZBA and Land Court held otherwise.  The Appeals Court affirmed, holding that the lots did merge, notwithstanding the creative forms of ownership created by the plaintiff.  The Land Court distinguished Kneer v ZBA of Norfolk. Click here for the text of the Appeals Court’s decision.

Appeals Court: BRYNA S. KLEVAN v. CITY OF NEWTON

KeywordsPractice, Civil, Summary judgment. Sewer. Municipal Corporations, Sewers. Massachusetts Tort Claims Act. Governmental Immunity. Negligence, Governmental immunity, Duty to warn.

The Appeals Court, in an interlocutory appeal of a denial of immunity defenses raised by Newton in a case involving water and sewerage infiltrating the Plaintiffs home, reversed the Superior Court’s denial of summary judgment which was based on exemptions 10 (b) and 10 (j) of the Tort claims act.  The Appeals Court’s reversal was “because in our view § 10 (j) operates to bar the plaintiff’s claim.”  The Appeals Court only addressed section 10 (b) (discretionary function) in footnotes to the case, since its holding on 10 (j) was dispositive of the appeal.  Congrats to Newton Assistant City Solicitor (and MMLA Amicus Chair) Maura O’Keefe on this important win for municipalities.  Click here for the full decision of the Appeals Court.