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.
In a landmark decision, hailed by equal rights advocates all over the country, a divided U.S. Supreme Court struck down a section of DOMA (the Defense of Marriage Act) that denied legally married same-sex couples the same federal benefits that are provided to heterosexual spouses. Prior to the Court’s ruling, DOMA defined marriage as only between a man and a woman.
“Although Congress has great authority to design laws to fit its own conception of sound national policy, it cannot deny the liberty protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment,” said Justice Anthony Kennedy. Kennedy was joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.
The case before the Court examined whether the federal government could deny heath, tax and pension benefits to same-sex couples in states where they can legally marry. For example, in Massachusetts same-sex couples can be lawfully married, but before yesterday’s ruling their marriage wasn’t recognized by the federal government under the DOMA. Now, the federal government will have to recognize same-sex marriages from other states like Massachusetts and provide equal benefits to all.
In the Court’s written opinion, Justice Kennedy affirmed the rights of same-sex couples by recognizing that for those who “wished to be married, the state [of New York] acted to give their lawful conduct a lawful status. This status is a far-reaching legal acknowledgment of the intimate relationship between two people, a relationship deemed by the state worthy of dignity in the community equal with all other marriages…DOMA seeks to injure the very class New York seeks to protect.”
While the decision is seemingly sweeping in scope, it is limited to providing federal benefits to those who are lawfully married in states that recognize same-sex marriage. Currently thirty-five states have laws that ban same-sex marriage according to a report on CNN.com.
Independent Foreclosure Review Shows Banks Lied About Foreclosing on Military Families; Massachusetts Servicemen Retain All Their Legal Rights
We have been receiving an increase in calls and contacts from military servicemen and women whose homes were foreclosed on by banks while they were on active military duty. This practice is the lowest of the low. While these servicemen and women were putting their lives on the line for their Country, opportunistic banks seized their homes, threw out their possessions and sold off their homes at auction prices.
Foreclosing on an active duty member of the military without a court order is a violation of the federal law known as the Servicemember’s Civil Relief Act (SCRA). Banks even need a court order in states where “non-judicial” foreclosures are allowed.
We now know that many banks lied about the number of illegal military foreclosures when the issue first became news at the height of the foreclosure crisis. A document posted on the Federal Reserve’s website called “Independent Foreclosure Review Payment Agreement Details” indicates that the 11 biggest mortgage servicers foreclosed on 1,082 active duty military families and attempted to foreclose on another 116. The number of actual foreclosures is much higher than previously reported. It is evident that these big bank servicers lacked procedures for complying with the SCRA.
Many servicemen and woman are now being notified of their eligibility for payments from the national mortgage settlement. The settlement damage matrix indicates that military families are entitled to $125,000 from the settlement fund. Depending on your circumstances, a $125,000 payment may be fair. In many cases, particularly where possessions were removed from a home and thrown out, $125,000 may not even come close to the amount of money necessary to fairly compensate a military family.
The good news is that servicemen and women do not waive or release any legal claims they have against the banks and their servicers. They can accept the payment from the settlement and still pursue legal action against the bank and its servicer. In states that have long statutes of limitation, evaluating your legal claims is a good idea. For example, Massachusetts has a consumer protection statute with a four year statute of limitations that allows for double or triple damages for unfair and deceptive business acts and practices, with a violation of the SCRA creating a per se violation of the Massachusetts consumer protection statute. Other states may have similar laws, including punitive damages. The bottom is military families who receive a payment under the national mortgage settlement may be entitled to even more damages in court.
The real unanswered question is whether the banks and their servicers have changed their policies and practices when foreclosing on military families. Or will they continue with their “Shoot First, Ask Questions Later” culture which led directly to mortgage meltdown in the first place.
More more on Independent Foreclosure Review, go to http://www.federalreserve.gov/consumerinfo/independent-foreclosure-review-payment-agreement-faqs.htm
Boston, Massachusetts, ranked as the 5th city in the nation with the most frustrated drivers, according to a story published at Forbes.com. That should come as no surprise for anyone who’s tried to commute to Boston and has been caught up in the snarl of the Southeast Expressway, the Mass. Pike, Routes 3 and 128, and now even Route 24 heading north or south.
The results of this “frustration examination” article were based on a study by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, which examined the 50 largest urban areas and rated them according to 1) average annual hours delayed in commuter traffic, 2) average gasoline prices, and 3) population density.
Increased driver frustration can not only cause higher blood pressure, but it can also logically lead to more aggressive driving, increased auto accidents and even “road rage” incidents. To avoid some of these dangers, officials a the Washington State Patrol suggest tips like allowing plenty of time for your trip, improving the comfort in your vehicle, being polite – even when others around you are not, and avoiding conflict on the roads if at all possible.
In July 2012, one such incident of road rage on Route 495 resulted in a 16 year old girl being shot in the arm by a gunshot from a Honda Accord. According to police, witnesses reported that there’d been some sort of highway dispute between the drivers of the two cars.
While Boston is ranked nationally as the 5th city with the highest level of frustrated drivers, it should come as no surprise that New York City is ranked number 1 given it’s density, population and long commutes. Here’s a list of the top 5 as reported in Forbes:
New York City – annual hours of commuter delay: 59
Chicago – gas cost per national average: 35-40 cents more/gal
San Francisco – annual hours of commuter delay: 61
Los Angeles – population per square mile: 17,179
Boston – commuter delay: 53 hrs/year; gas costs: 3.04
This week Attorney Carlin Phillips will be traveling up to Toronto to attend the ABA (American Bar Association) annual meeting and take part in a mock trial along with Jury Group. We will be updating out facebook an twitter pages from Toronto and our Dartmouth offices to give you an exciting look into the ABA annual meeting and a mock trial, which Carlin will be participating in.
Here is some history of the ABA compliments of their wikipdia page:
The ABA was founded on August 21, 1878, in Saratoga Springs, New York, by 100 lawyers from 21 states. According to the ABA website,
“The legal profession as we know it today barely existed at that time. Lawyers were generally sole practitioners who trained under a system of apprenticeship. There was no national code of ethics; there was no national organization to serve as a forum for discussion of the increasingly intricate issues involved in legal practice.”
The purpose of the original organization, as set forth in is first constitution, was “the advancement of the science of jurisprudence, the promotion of the administration of justice and a uniformity of legislation throughout the country….”