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Murphy, Hesse, Toomey & Lehane, LLP Attorney Triumphs in Mask Mandate Lawsuit

 

On November 16, 2021 a Judge ruled in favor of Attorney Peter Mello of Murphy, Hesse, Toomey & Lehane, LLP and his clients in a lawsuit regarding mask mandates in Massachusetts schools. The Plaintiff’s filed a preliminary injunction in hopes of barring the Defendants’ from enforcing mask mandates on students while in school. They argued that “the defendants lacked authority to issue and implement the mask mandates, that the mandates violate parents’ constitutional rights to make decisions regarding their children’s health, and that mask wearing is ineffective and harms children.” After hearing from the Plaintiff’s experts and past cases, the Judge ultimately denied the motion for preliminary injunction. The case made headlines in several local papers and highlighted the Judge’s strong criticism of the Plaintiff’s arguments, for example he described their argument as being “premised upon nonauthoritative cases as well as thin and heavily contradicted evidence.” He went on to provide some case examples of his own, comparing the mask mandates to previous cases at “the intersection of schools and public health, such as a 1905 challenge to requiring smallpox vaccinations.”

 

Mr. Mello focuses his practice in municipal law and general civil litigation, including in the areas of construction, land use and zoning, wetlands and school law, among others. He has advised private clients and governmental entities alike regarding myriad and diverse issues, including employment, energy-related issues, licensing, procurement, public records, meeting procedures, conflict of interest, and many others. He practices routinely before state and federal courts and state agencies in Massachusetts and has written and presented extensively on wetlands, construction and labor issues for organizations such as REBA, the Massachusetts School Building Authority, the Massachusetts Municipal Lawyers Association and the Massachusetts Bar Association. Mr. Mello was recognized as a Rising Star by New England Super Lawyers magazine in 2012, 2013 and 2014.

 

Mr. Mello earned his B.A. in Politics, with a Certificate in Legal Studies from Brandeis University and is a graduate of Boston University School of Law. While at Boston University School of Law, he served as a staff editor of the American Journal of Law and Medicine. He is admitted to practice in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts and the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.

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Legal Updates

MARIJUANA REFORM BILL BECOMES LAW

On August 12, 2022, Governor Charlie Baker signed S. 3096, “An act relative to equity in the cannabis industry,” (“Act”) into law. The Act reforms Massachusetts’s existing marijuana laws, particularly with respect to host community agreements (“HCAs”), community impact fees (“CIFs”), and social consumption sites (e.g. marijuana cafes). The Act empowers the Cannabis Control Commission (“Commission”), the state regulatory agency, to exert greater control over HCAs and their CIFs. Municipalities levy CIFs on cannabis businesses to account for the costs they impose on the municipality as a result of their operations. Additionally, the Act allows municipalities to permit on-premises social consumption of marijuana at designated sites. Other notable provisions of the Act include the new Social Equity Trust Fund (“Trust Fund”), changes to the tax law regarding cannabis businesses, and various provisions concerning those persons and communities most impacted by the prior illegality of marijuana usage and sale. Governor Baker vetoed only one section of the final bill: the provision calling on the state to conduct a study of medical marijuana usage in schools.

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