Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral argument in a pair of cases that question the role of the U.S. court system in holding companies accountable for profiting from child slavery in foreign countries. The Alien Tort Statute (ATS) gives federal courts jurisdiction to hear lawsuits filed by non-U.S. citizens for some violations of international law. In two related cases, the Supreme Court will decide whether U.S. corporations--as opposed to individuals--may be liable under the statute, and whether the allegations of corporate wrongdoing in these cases were sufficiently connected to the U.S.
The False Claims Act prohibits employers from discriminating against an employee "because of" his or her protected conduct. In a case of first impression recently decided, Lestage v. Coloplast Corp., the First Circuit explained the meaning of "because of." Lestage, a salesperson, sued Coloplast alleging that, after it learned she had filed a qui tam action against it and against one of its customers, Coloplast retaliated against her in violation of the False Claims Act by placing her on leave and then assigning her inferior accounts when she returned. A jury trial awarded Lestage $762,525 in compensatory damages. Coloplast unsuccessfully moved for judgment as a matter of law and new trial, and then appealed. The First Circuit affirmed the judgment.
In Nettles v. Midland Funding LLC the Seventh Circuit recently held Plaintiff Ashley Nettles did not have standing to bring a claim against Defendant Midland Funding LLC under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act ("FDCPA") on the grounds that Plaintiff suffered no harm in fact for receiving a debt collection letter that overstated her remaining balance owed to Defendant.
In many divorce cases, the parties and their children maintain common health insurance coverage, often through a plan that is available as the result of one party's employment. If both parties are employed at the time of their divorce, then it is commonplace for each of them to agree to obtain and pay for his or her own individual health insurance post-divorce. However, in cases where one party will not have the ability to access reasonably priced health insurance post-divorce - normally because he or she is not eligible to receive full health insurance coverage through employment - the parties' Separation Agreement or Judgment of Divorce must address how each party will obtain and pay for their health insurance. Luckily, and depending on the specific insurance plan(s) at issue, Massachusetts allows individuals to remain on their ex-spouse's health and dental insurance plans post-divorce, as provided for in G. L. c. 175, 110I. Importantly, this right is not automatic; if one party intends to stay on an ex-spouse's health insurance plan post-divorce, then that entitlement must be specifically incorporated into the parties' Separation Agreement or Judgment of Divorce in order to be enforceable.
In United States v. Ackerly, the government appealed the District Court's decision to grant a new trial on the basis of the defendant's argument that the government violated the Confrontation Clause. In that case, the defendant and her co-defendants were alleged to have conducted a fraudulent scheme, which consisted of bribing an employee of a firm (ISS) in exchange for non-public information about ISS's proxy-voting advice, and to have concealed their scheme by falsely invoicing their own employer's (Georgeson, Inc.) clients for a portion of the cost of the bribes.
In July 2020, the European Court of Justice invalidated the use of the Privacy Shield framework, which thousands of companies had been using to transfer data between the European Union (EU) and the United States. The Court reasoned that the Privacy Shield did not provide the required level of protection to the transferred data, as the level of protection required for data in the European Economic Area is not diminished merely because that data is transferred outside of the EU.
The United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit has held that, where a foreclosing mortgagee is required by HUD regulations incorporated into the mortgage, to make reasonable efforts to hold a face-to-face meeting with a borrower before foreclosure, there is no requirement that those efforts to arrange such a meeting must be made by someone with the "qualifications or authority to conduct a face-to-face meeting for the purpose of resolving mortgage delinquencies." Donahue v. Federal National Mortgage Association
The liability of aircraft carriers is governed by the Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules for International Carriage by Air, May 28, 1999, S. Treaty Doc. No. 106-45 (2000) (the "Montreal Convention"), a multilateral treaty to which the United States is a signatory. The Montreal Convention superseded the Warsaw Convention of 1934 and some of the provisions are essentially the same in both conventions.
On April 20, 2020, Massachusetts Governor Baker signed into law An Act Providing for a Moratorium on Evictions and Foreclosures During the COVID-19 Emergency. The moratorium was originally set to expire on August 18, 2020, but Governor Baker had previously extended the moratorium until October 17, 2020. While Governor Baker had the option to extend the moratorium further, he declined to do so, and the moratorium expired at midnight on October 17, 2020.
Large, multi-unit, multi-building real estate developments can be seen all over the greater Boston area these days. As with any major project, problems can arise, and what looked like perfect, shiny new building may start to form a few cracks. Once cracks start to appear, when does the statute of limitations clock begin to run?
Different states have different rules regarding when a parent's child support obligation ends. In some states, a parent's child support obligation ends when a child turns 18 years old. In Massachusetts, a parent's child support obligation generally lasts at least until the child reaches age 18, but could continue until when the child turns 21 if the child is living with a parent and dependent upon that parent, or up until the child turns 23 if the child principally lives with a parent and is dependent upon that parent due to the child's enrollment in an educational program (excluding educational costs beyond an undergraduate degree). See M.G.L. ch. 208, §28.
In Massachusetts, the amount of weekly child support to be paid by a parent is calculated by relying on the Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines, which are published by the Executive Office of the Massachusetts Trial Court and updated every three years. Although it is a simple proposition to say that child support orders are largely based on the parents' respective incomes, it is important to understand what is included as "income" by the Probate and Family Court in determining a child support obligation. The Guidelines themselves take the broadest possible approach to defining income, stating that "income is defined as gross income from whatever source, regardless of whether that income is recognized by the Internal Revenue Code or reported to the Internal Revenue Service or state Department of Revenue or other taxing authority." The Guidelines go on to list 29 different types of income which are presumptively included in a parent's income for child support purposes, including, among other items, salaries, wages, overtime, tips, commissions, severance pay, royalties, interest and dividends, bonuses, certain government benefits, workers' compensation, distributions from trusts, pension and annuity income, capital gains, lottery or gambling winnings, prizes and awards, and rental income.
In Sullivan v. Sleepy's LLC, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) answered this question in the affirmative. In Sullivan, the SJC considered whether an employer satisfied its obligations to its employees under Massachusetts Overtime and Sunday wage laws, where its employees' wages were comprised entirely of commission (or draws against commission), if their total weekly income met or exceeded one and a half times their regular hourly rate or at least one and a half times the minimum wage for each hour they worked over forty. The Court concluded that those employees were entitled to a separate payment - in addition to their draws or commissions - of one and a half times their regular rate or at least one and a half times minimum wage for every hour they worked over forty. With regard to Sunday pay, the SJC affirmed that a plain reading of that statute requires a separate and distinct time and a half payment for hours worked on a Sunday pay even when an employee received commission payments in the first instance that equaled or exceeded what the employee would be entitled to per the Sunday pay statute.
Pursuant to 2018 Session Laws Chapter 155, Section 2 (An Act Relative to Reproductive Health), Massachusetts's outdated law criminalizing adultery was repealed. The Governor approved the law on July 27, 2018.
This issue arose in the recent Massachusetts Appellate case Salem Five Mortgage Company, LLC v. Lester. In that case, a mortgage company lent a borrower $300,000 for the purchase of a home on Nantucket. After the mortgage company approved the loan, but before the closing date, the borrower requested that his wife be added to the deed as a tenant by the entirety. However, the wife's name was not added to the mortgage, which remained solely in the name of the borrower. As a result, the mortgage company received a security interest only in the borrower's undivided interest in the property. The closing attorney, who represented both the mortgage company and the borrower, was aware of way in which the title was worded and told the seller of the property that the borrower and his wife would take title as tenants by the entirety. The mortgage eventually went into default, at which time the mortgage company discovered the mistake and sued for reformation of either the deed or the mortgage.
One of the main reasons that we at FITCH recommend that the vast majority of cross-border contracts contain international arbitration clauses is because of the New York Convention. More formally called the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards, the New York Convention was ratified in 1959 and currently has 159 parties. It requires states to honor and enforce arbitral awards issued in any of the other member states, and means that by selecting international arbitration as the dispute resolution mechanism, parties can get their awards enforced virtually anywhere on the planet.
If a divorce or 209C case is pending, the court, sooner or later, will schedule what is known as a pre-trial hearing. Sometimes this is also referred to as a pre-trial conference. This will happen either on the court's own initiative once a complaint has been on file long enough, or following a case management conference. At a case management conference, the parties and judge will address a timeline for the case - the appropriate timeline for a discovery deadline and a pre-trial hearing, among other matters. The parties can, by stipulation, avoid appearing at a pre-trial hearing by submitting a written agreement that specifies the specific dates for the case timeline.
Massachusetts courts recognize two distinct types of custody of children. The first, physical custody, is what most litigants mean when they refer to having "joint custody" or "primary custody" of their child. Physical custody is a term that describes the amount of time the child spends in the care of each parent. Although physical custody is often the aspect of divorce or custody litigation that is most contentious, the second type of custody - legal custody - is also a fundamental element of parental authority. Legal custody refers to the parents' rights to make "major decisions regarding the child's welfare including matters of education, medical care and emotional, moral and religious development." M. G. L. c. 208, § 31. Legal custody can be either joint, in which the parties must confer with each other and reach shared decisions on these types of matters, or sole, in which one parent has the ability to make decisions about the child's health, education, or religion, even if the other parent disagrees. Joint legal custody, at a minimum, requires "two capable parents with some degree of respect for one another's abilities as parents, together with a willingness and ability to work together to reach results on major decisions in a manner similar to the way married couples make decisions." Rolde v. Rolde
The Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment provides that "No person shall...be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb." That clause means that no person can be prosecuted twice for the same crime. Historically, the Double Jeopardy Clause had not been held to bar separate sovereign governments from trying an individual for the same crime, a doctrine known as the separate-sovereigns doctrine. Because the federal and state governments are separate sovereignties, the Double Jeopardy Clause had historically been held not to prohibit the Federal government from prosecuting an individual for an offense for which that individual had already been tried in state court.
In Obduskey v. McCarthy & Holthus L.L.P., the Supreme Court examined whether an entity engaged in the limited purpose of enforcing a security interest in a nonjudicial foreclosure proceeding fit the definition a "debt collector," thereby subjecting it to all of the provisions of the Fair Debt Collectors Practices Act ("FDCPA"). The Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the Respondent, McCarthy & Holthus LLP ("McCarthy"), hired by Wells Fargo to enforce its security interest by acting as its agent to foreclose on a defaulting, Colorado debtor's home, in that narrow instance, was not a "debt collector" within the meaning under the FDCPA, except with regard to the confines of §1692f(6). In order to reach its decision, the Court partitioned the FDCPA's definition of a "debt collector" into two parts: (1) a 'primary' debt collector defined as "any person . . . in any business the principal purpose of which is the collection of any debt, or who regularly collects or attempts to collect, directly or in-directly, debts[;]" and (2) for the purposes of §1692f(6) of the FDCPA, a 'limited-purpose' debt collector defined as also including "any person . . . in any business the principal purpose of which is the enforcement of security interests."