Municipal Law News

Appeals Court: SARROUF v. CITY OF BOSTON and ANOTHER

The Appeals Court, in its decision in Sarrouf v City of Boston and Boston Gas and Another issued yesterday, upheld the trial court’s dismissal of the case at the close of the plaintiff’s case on the issue of inadequate notice. The case had been brought by the Plaintiff, Daneil Sarrouf under the “defective way” statute (G. L. c. 84, §§ 15 & 18). Sarrouf stepped into an uneven depression in the road and suffered serious injury to her left foot, and then notified the City of Boston within thirty days, as required by the statute.

The Court, in its ruling, stated: “We decline to read into the statute an exception to timely notice when the responsible party is not reasonably ascertainable.  The statute excuses late notice only if “by reason of physical or mental incapacity it is impossible for the person injured to give the notice within the time required.”  G. L. c. 84, § 19.  The inclusion of one exception implies that the Legislature intentionally refrained from creating additional exceptions.  See Harborview Residents’ Comm., Inc. v. Quincy Hous. Auth., 368 Mass. 425, 432 (1975) (“a statutory expression of one thing is an implied exclusion of other things omitted from the statute”).”

Click here for the full text of the Appeals Court decision.

AG Disapproves Charlton Marijuana Host Agreement Bylaw Provisions as “Unreasonably Impracticable”

In the Attorney General’s letter sent today to the Town of Charlton, the AG disapproved most of a proposed general bylaw amendment regulating community host agreements. The AG determined that the amendment “conflicts with G.L. c. 94G, § 3, and interferes with the contracting authority of the Board of Selectmen. Under Article 13, a citizen petition warrant article, the Town voted to amend the Town’s general by-laws to add a new Chapter 157 Marijuana and Section 157-4, “Host Agreement” to require that Town Meeting approve any community host agreements regarding marijuana establishments. The proposed by-law also declares “null and void” any previously signed host community agreements that do not comply with G.L. c. 94G (“Regulation of the Use and Distribution of Marijuana Not Medically Prescribed”).”  The AG concluded that proposed amendment “conflicts with G.L. c. 94G, § 3, in that it imposes “unreasonably impracticable” by-law requirements and interferes with the contracting authority of the Board of Selectmen.  Click here for the full text of the Attorney General’s letter.

U S Supreme Court Rules in Qualified Immunity Case From 9th Circuit

With permission from IMLA (International Municipal Lawyers Association), MMLA passes along an excellent memo from IMLA Deputy General Counsel Amanda Kellar, summarizing the U. S. Supreme Court’s per curiam decision in Escondido vs. Emmons.  The decision includes a reversal and a remand of the 9th Circuit’s denial of qualified immunity for police officers.  Click here for the full text of Amanda Kellar’s summary.

Chapter 337, Acts of 2018 (Short-Term Rentals) – MMLA’s Overview

Chapter 337 of the Acts of 2018 (the “Act”), the Short-Term Rental Bill, was signed into law by Governor Baker on December 28, 2018. The law, which takes effect on July 1, 2019, amends M.G.L c. 64G (Room Occupancy Excise) to include definitions and provisions applicable to short-term rentals made through internet hosting platforms such as Airbnb.

MMLA member Amanda Zuretti, of the Framingham offices of Petrini & Associates, has shared with our membership an explanatory memorandum outlining and summarizing the provisions of the Act.  Click here to read the full text of Attorney Zuretti’s memo.

Also, MMLA member Bob Galvin, in a memo drafted for the Town of Norwell, has shared with us his overview of the new law.  Click here for Attorney Galvin’s memo.

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.