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April 2014 Archives

Proposed Bill Prohibits Sex in Marital Home

A Massachusetts state senator has filed a bill that could prohibit a divorcing parent from having sex in his or her own home. The bill states: "In divorce, separate, or 209A proceedings involving children and a marital home, the party remaining in the home shall not conduct a dating or sexual relationship within the home until a divorce is final and all financial and custody issues are resolved, unless the express permission is granted by the courts." 

Massachusetts Partition Actions: Division of Sale Proceeds

Massachusetts partition actions do not always end with the court-ordered sale of the real estate in question.  After a property being partitioned is sold, the proceeds of the sale must be divided between the co-owners.  The law presumes that the proceeds should be divided in accordance with each owner's respective ownership interest.  For example, if there are two owners who each own 50% of the property, the law presumes that the owners should each receive 50% of the sale proceeds.

Supreme Court Breathes New Life Into $185M Arbitration Award Against Argentina

BG Group plc won a major victory at the U.S. Supreme Court last month when the Court upheld an arbitration award requiring Argentina to pay BG Group more than $185 million.  The case is yet another example of the deference that arbitration awards receive in U.S. courts.

Supreme Judicial Court Expands Discovery Rule to Require Knowledge of "Whom to Sue"

The "discovery rule" delays the three-year statute of limitations period for plaintiffs to bring tort claims "where the plaintiff did not know or could not reasonably have known that he or she may have been harmed by the conduct of another" until the plaintiff gains actual or constructive knowledge of the wrong. See Koe v. Mercer, 450 Mass. 97, 101 (2007). In an opinion issued last week, the Supreme Judicial Court broadened the discovery rule to include knowledge of the responsible person's identity, reasoning that such knowledge "seems implicit in the requirement that a plaintiff know that the defendant's conduct caused him harm; without such knowledge, the plaintiff does not know whom to sue." Harrington v. Costello, 467 Mass. 720, 2014 WL 1362630 at *4 (April 9, 2014)

Electronic Submissions to the Appeals Court

The Massachusetts Appeals Court requires some pleadings to be filed electronically, rather than through hard copy.  Although the Standing Order concerning electronic filings has been effective for nearly three years, it is still a confusing process that is ripe for errors.  

New MA Domestic Violence Bill

With unanimous approval, members of the Massachusetts House of Representatives recently advanced An Act relative to domestic violence, new legislation aimed at preventing domestic violence (the "Act").  Said to be driven by the high profile case of Jared Remy, who is alleged to have brutally murdered his girlfriend only one day after he was released from custody on charges that he had assaulted her, the Act calls for increased training for law enforcement officers and court personnel, and the establishment of further legal remedies and protections for victims of domestic and sexual violence.

RICO Claims By Government Agencies Against MERS Fail

The United States Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit has held that government land recording offices cannot state a claim under the federal RICO statutes for loss of revenue due to fewer filing fee revenues or for allegedly inaccurate records.  Welborn v. Bank of N.Y. Mellon Corp., No. 13-30103, 2014 WL 843262 (5th Cir. March 5, 2014).

Cover Two?

Arbitration clauses are common in corporate agreements, but can an employee invoke her company's arbitration clause in a contract with a plaintiff to compel arbitration? In a recent decision, the First Circuit held a defendant employee could do just, calling the plaintiff's arguments to the contrary "illogical and impractical." Grand Wireless, Inc. v. Verizon Wireless, Inc., No. 13-1149, 2014 WL 1054418 at *9 (1st Cir., Mar. 19, 2014).

Working into Arbitration: Binding Arbitration Pursuant to Employee Handbooks

Employers and employees everywhere should check their employee handbooks - if it has an arbitration provision, it is likely any disputes between the two will take place in arbitration rather than in court.

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