Supreme Judicial Court’s Decision Agreed with Murphy, Hesse, Toomey & Lehane Attorney Regarding Tort Claims Act
On January 22nd, the Supreme Judicial Court (“SJC”) issued a decision in Magliacane v. City of Gardner which preserved key protections for municipalities facing tort claims. The SJC’s decision agreed with the arguments put forth by MHTL’s attorney Cindy Amara in an amicus brief she filed in the case on behalf of the Massachusetts Municipal Lawyers Association (“MMLA”), in support of the City of Gardner.
If the Court had not concluded that claims similar to those raised by the resident were governed by the Act, the financial impact on municipalities could have been catastrophic, considering the wide variety of activities a municipality offers for a fee (e.g. sports, recycling, trash removal). Murphy, Hesse Toomey & Lehane’s brief to the SJC laid out the magnitude of the financial impacts to a municipality if the Act did not apply to such “commercial” activities. For example, on the one issue, if residents were allowed to bring similar claims, the City could have been liable for more than forty-five percent of its annual budget for Fiscal Year 2020.
Given the important protections that the Act provides for municipalities and the potential fiscal cost that could have been imposed through this case, the SJC’s decision in Magliacane v. City of Gardner constitutes a major win for the Commonwealth and municipalities.