Municipal Law News

News Update from IMLA: ADEA Applies to Local Governments

[Republished with permission of State & Local Legal Center and IMLA]

In its first opinion of the term in Mt. Lemmon Fire District v. Guido the Supreme Court ruled 8-0 that the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) applies to state and local government employers with less than 20 employees. The State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) filed an amicus brief arguing that it should not apply. State and local governments often rely on small special districts to provide services they don’t provide. 

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1st Circuit Ct. of App. – GALILEO MONDOL et al vs. CITY OF SOMERVILLE

The US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit on August 20th issued its decision in Galileo Mondol et al vs City of Somerville, in which it affirmed summary judgment for the defendants in a suit for damages related to alleged sexual assaults at a summer soccer camp.  In addressing the speculative nature of the Plaintiffs’ allegations, the Court stated that, the claims [Mondol, et al] assert against the Appellees would require the Court to create a pyramid of inferences, which the Court declined to do. “Assumptions are not a substitute for evidence.  In this instance, [Appellants’] assertion[s] pile inference upon inference until the entire pyramid topples of its own weight.” P.4.   As to [Mondol’s] allegations that the evidence could lead one to the reasonable inference that the Appellee city officials were engaged in a conspiracy, the Court stated that “[t]his is beyond speculative and borders on the preposterous.”  P. 7.  Congrats to MMLA members Leonard Kesten and his colleagues from Brody, Hardon, Perkins and Kesten, and Somerville City Solicitor Frank Wright for this successful outcome.  Click here for the full decision of the Court of Appeals.

SJC: MIRAMAR PARK ASSOC. vs TOWN OF DENNIS

KeywordsBeach. Real Property, Beach. Environment, Coastal wetlands. Wetlands Protection Act. Regulation

The SJC today issued its decision in Miramar Park Association, Inc. v. Town of Dennis, in which it vacated adverse findings against the Town made in the Superior Court and vacated an injunction against the Town.  The dispute arose over whether ” the town of Dennis violated Massachusetts environmental regulations by requiring that materials dredged from the mouth of a tidal river be deposited on a publicly-owned beach, rather than on an adjacent, privately-owned beach.”  The lower court found it did and, among other things, ordered the Town to periodically re-dredge the river and to deposit the dredged material on the plaintiffs’ private beach..  The SJC found insufficient proof that the Town violated any wetlands law.  Congratulations to KP-Law  attorney and MMLA member Greg Corbo, Esq. for his successful representation of the Town of Dennis.    Click here for the full decision of the SJC.

Appeals Court: PHILLIP CUCCHI vs. CIT OF NEWTON

Keywords:   Civil Service, Decision of Civil Service Commission, Judicial review, Promotion, Fire fighters. Fire Fighter. Declaratory Relief.

The Appeals Court today issued its decision in Cucchi v City of Newton, et al, in which it held that the strict 30 day appeal period under C. 31, sec. 44 remains unaffected by a motion for rehearing, notwithstanding c. 30A, sec. 14’s reference to motions for a rehearing. The appeal period is not tolled under the applicable law.  The case was remanded on the claim for a declaratory judgment, which the lower court had dismissed without explanation.

(Excerpt from decision) – “In Curley v. Lynn, 408 Mass. 39, 41-42 (1990), the court held that a person seeking judicial review of a Civil Service Commission (commission) decision under G. L. c. 31, § 44, as then in effect, was required to file a petition seeking such review within thirty days of receipt of the commission’s decision, and that such time was not tolled by filing a request for reconsideration with the commission.  Section 44 was subsequently amended in 1992, primarily to shift jurisdiction to conduct judicial review to the Superior Court, but also to include a cross-reference to judicial review under G. L. c. 30A, § 14.  Section 14(1) provides that the timely filing of a petition for rehearing with an agency tolls the time for seeking judicial review of the agency decision.

The question we face here is whether § 44, as now in effect, continues to impose the strict thirty-day deadline for seeking review of commission decisions identified in Curley, or instead whether its cross-reference to § 14 means that the time for seeking review is tolled by the timely filing of a petition for rehearing.  We conclude that § 44 continues to impose a strict thirty-day deadline and, thus, we affirm the portion of the judgment dismissing, as untimely, the plaintiffs’ claim for judicial review.  As for the plaintiffs’ claim for declaratory relief, however, which was dismissed without explanation, we vacate that portion of the judgment and remand for further proceedings.”

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

Appeals Court: JOANNE DELAPA vs FALMOUTH CONSERVATION COMMISSION

Keywords:   Wetlands Protection Act. Zoning, Wetlands. Municipal Corporations, Conservation commission. Practice, Civil, Action in nature of certiorari, Judgment on the pleadings

The Appeals Court today issued its decision in DeLapa v Conservation Commission of Falmouth in which it upheld a decision in favor of the Town on motions for judgment on the pleadings in an appeal of the denial by the Conservation Commission of an NOI under both state and local law to rebuild a pier damaged in a storm.

“In 2015, winter storms caused significant damage to a dock in Falmouth (town) owned by Joanne Delapa, as trustee of the Delcor Realty Trust (Delcor).  Delcor sought approval from the town conservation commission (commission) to repair the dock, which would involve, inter alia, driving four pilings into a protected wetlands area.  Acting in part pursuant to the town wetlands protection by-law and accompanying regulations, the commission denied Delcor’s application after finding it deficient in various respects.  Delcor brought an action in the nature of certiorari to challenge the commission’s denial, see G. L. c. 249, § 4, and on cross motions for judgment on the pleadings, see Mass.R.Civ.P. 12(c), 365 Mass. 754 (1974), a Superior Court judge ruled in the commission’s favor.  On Delcor’s appeal, we affirm the judgment.”

MMLA member and Assistant Town Counsel Patricia Harris represented Falmouth in this appeal.   Click here for the full text of Judge Milkey’s decision.

SJC: TALMO vs. ZBA OF FRAMINGHAM

KeywordsZoning, Person aggrieved. Practice, Civil, Zoning appeal, Standing, Presumptions and burden of proof, Findings by judge

In its decision today the SJC addressed the question of whether the trial judge could determine sua sponte that a direct abutter’s presumptive standing was rebutted where the defendants did not press the issue at trial.  The Court concluded that in the circumstances of the case the judge properly reached the question and affirmed the judgment of dismissal.  Click here for the full text of today’s decision.  MMLA Vice President Peter Mello represented Framingham on this appeal.