Articles Posted in Massachusetts Supreme Court

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Plaintiff, a private college, brought suit against a town and a local zoning authority (defendants), seeking, among other things, a declaration that its proposed development of residential and education facilities for older adults (Regis East) qualified for protection under the Dover Amendment, G.L.c. 40A, section 3, second par. The Dover Amendment exempted from certain local zoning laws or structures that were to be used by nonprofit educational institutions for "educational purposes." Because the court could not conclude that plaintiff "has no reasonable expectation" of demonstrating that Regis East would primarily operate in furtherance of educational purposes, the court vacated and remanded. View "Regis College v. Town of Weston & others." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff appealed from a superior court judge's order granting defendants' motion for summary judgment on her complaint alleging violations of her state civil rights. Plaintiff contended that she had a right, secured by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution and by art. 16 of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights, to attend a lecture that was open to the public, held on the campus of Tufts and that defendants violated the act when they excluded her from the lecture. Tufts, through its office of continuing education, presented a publicly advertised lecture on its campus entitled, "Dangers of Feeding Your Pet a Raw Diet." Plaintiff, who was an advocate of raw food diets for animals, sought to attend the lecture. At the time, she had not paid her bill for services rendered to her horse and defendants informed plaintiff that she was ineligible for continuing education services at Tufts. The court concluded that the circumstances of plaintiff's exclusion from the lecture did not amount to an interference with any claimed free speech right, and thus that the allowance of summary judgment on this claim was proper. The court also concluded that the allowance of summary judgment for defendants' on plaintiff's claims of intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligence was correct. View "Roman v. Trustees of Turfts College & others." on Justia Law

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This case concerned the way by which the costs of financing the school district were apportioned among the city of New Bedford, the town of Dartmouth, and the town of Fairhaven, which were municipalities comprising the school district. Dartmouth commenced an action in the superior court against defendants challenging the funding obligations imposed on the member municipalities by the Education Reform Act of 1993, G.L.c. 70, section 6. Fairhaven filed a cross claim asserting that the funding obligations imposed by the Act were a disproportionate tax on property and income in violation of the state constitution. The court held that the complaint filed by Dartmouth and cross claim filed by Fairhaven were properly dismissed because Dartmouth and Fairhaven failed to state a claim on which relief could be granted. View "Town of Dartmouth v. Greater New Bedford Regional Vocational Tech. High Sch. Dist. & others" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff challenged his expulsion from Weston High School for allegedly possessing and distributing a "marijuana cookie" on school property. The court held that the judge abused his discretion where the record did not suggest that the judge either considered the proper legal standards for the allowance of a motion for a preliminary injunction or evaluated the factual circumstances relevant to plaintiff's alleged misconduct. Therefore, the order regarding plaintiff's motion for a preliminary injunction was vacated in its entirety and the matter remanded. View "Doe v. Superintendent of Schools of Weston" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, a teacher with professional teacher status, was dismissed by the superintendent of the school district for multiple instances of conduct unbecoming a teacher. On appeal, plaintiff argued that G.L.c. 71, section 42, which compelled arbitration of a wrongful dismissal claim made by a public school teacher with professional teacher status, violated art. 30 of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights because it impermissibly delegated to a private individual (an arbitrator) a judicial function and denied meaningful judicial review. The court concluded that this statute's provision authorizing arbitration of a principal or superintendent's dismissal decision did not interfere with core judicial functions and that the scope of judicial review set forth in the statute did provide for meaning judicial review such that there was no art. 30 violation. Plaintiff also contended that, pursuant to G.L.c. 150C, section 11, the arbitration award should be vacated because the arbitrator acted in excess of her authority, engaged in misconduct, and exhibited bias against him. The court concluded that the judge properly concluded that the arbitrator did not exceed her authority or act in manifest disregard for the law. The court also rejected plaintiff's claims that the arbitrator engaged in misconduct and exhibited bias. Accordingly, the judgment was affirmed. View "Atwater v. Commissioner of Education" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff served as an elementary school nurse during the 2007-2008 and 2008-2009 school years but did not acquire professional teacher status under G.L. c. 71, sections 41 and 42. Defendant sent plaintiff a notice that she would not be employed for the following 2009-2010 school year because she did not have the proper professional standards. Plaintiff sued defendant asserting that she was entitled to reemployment where defendant failed to comply with the requirements under G.L. c. 71, section 42. At issue was whether the nonrenewal of plaintiff's employment should be treated as a "dismissal" within the meaning of section 42 and subject to the protections therein. The court held that the decision not to rehire a teacher on the experience of his or her term of employment cannot be equated to dismissal of a teacher during his or her term of employment. Therefore, plaintiff was not dismissed from her position and was not entitled to safeguards under section 42.