A biker was killed on Thursday near the Sullivan Square MBTA Station in Charlestown, Massachusetts, after he was struck by what witnesses described as a white sanitation truck with black lettering. The hit-and-run accident happened at the busy intersection of Cambridge Street and Spice Street at about 1:40 pm, on Thursday, April 3, 2014.
Police later identified Ricky Prezioso of Swampscott as the driver who left the scene of the accident. Prezioso’s arraignment was sheduled to be held Friday morning in Chelsea District Court for leaving the scene of an accident after causing death. If found guilty, Prezioso could face imprisonment for 2 1/2 to 10 years and fines between $1,000 – $5,000.
In addition to the driver facing criminal responsibility, the owner of the commercial truck involved could face civil liability to the victim’s family. Under the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Reguldations, owners of certain types of commercial trucks that are used in the course of trade or commerce must ensure that their trucks meet minimum safety standards, are inspected regularly and that their drivers have ongoing training. Any misstep by an owner of a commercial truck could trigger tremendous exposure to the owner’s business.
According to the Boston Globe, this is the first bicycle fatality of the year in Boston. There were five other bicycle deaths in Boston in 2012. There was no accurate data for bicycle deaths in 2013 according to the news report.
MassBike, an advocacy group dedicated to promoting a bicycling friendly environment and encouraging bicycling fun, fitness and transportation, supported two pieces of legislation in 2013 to increase safety for bicyclists and other “vulnerable users.” The legislation identifies vulnerable users as bicyclists, pedestrians, wheel chair users and other non-motorized road users.
A Massachusetts judge found that a Boston business violated the Massachusetts wage law when it deducted money from an employee’s weekly paycheck for a retirement contribution but then never deposited the wages into a retirement account. The judge then awarded triple damages of $25,814 plus attorney’s fees to be paid to the employee.
The Boston real estate investment and development company had promised its employee that it would set up a retirement account into which the employee could make contributions. In December 2005, the employer began deducting money from the employee’s weekly paychecks. These deductions went on for at least two years.
During those next two years, the employee made inquiries about the status of his retirement account and his funds, but the employer’s administrators ignored him. The judge found that the employer never bothered getting around to setting up the account and instead withheld the money. The amount of the weekly deductions over this time frame was $8,604.80.
Sometime in the Spring of 2009, the company offered the employee a check for the $8,604, but as a condition for the money, the employee was to release any claims. The employee refused and then filed the lawsuit alleging that by withholding the money from his paycheck but not putting it into a retirement account as promised was a violation of the Massachusetts Wage law.
There are important messages to learn from this case as an employee:
First, the Wage Act states that an employer must pay an employee his wages within six days of the ending of the pay period during which those wages were earned. So, for example, if a weekly pay period is Monday through Saturday, then an employee must receive his wages by the following Friday. In this case, by withholding weekly deductions from its employee and not putting them into a retirement account as promised, the judge found the employer had failed to pay its employee within the six day time period allowed under the law.
Second, the Wage Act has very harsh penalties in an employee’s favor. Under the version of the Wage law adopted in July 2008, when an employee proves that the employer violated this section of the Act, then the court must award triple damages. It is mandatory. And, the employee is entitled to recover his attorney’s fees and expenses. So, in this case the judge multiplied the employee’s back wages of $8,604 by three and ordered damages of $25,814. The judge also allowed the employee to seek an award of his attorney’s fees and costs (that amount had not been decided as of the publication of this news story).
It is extremely enlightening to know that not only can you win such a case against your employer, but the judicial system has been set up to compensate you at triple the damages.
Staples Settles Overtime Wage Class Action Lawsuits for $42 Million.