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McLaughlin v. City of Lowell (Lawyers Weekly No. 11-093-13)

NOTICE: The slip opinions and orders posted on this Web site are subject to formal revision and are superseded by the advance sheets and bound volumes of the Official Reports. This preliminary material will be removed from the Web site once the advance sheets of the Official Reports are published. If you find a typographical error or other formal error, please notify the Reporter of Decisions, Supreme Judicial Court, John Adams Courthouse, 1 Pemberton Square, Suite 2500, Boston, MA 02108-1750; (617) 557-1030; SJCReporter@sjc.state.ma.us James McLAUGHLIN vs. CITY OF LOWELL.   No. 11-P-2072.   Middlesex. February 7, 2013. – July 25, 2013. Fire Fighter, Retirement, Incapacity. Municipal Corporations, Fire department, Retirement board. Public Employment, Accidental disability retirement, Reinstatement of personnel. Public Employee Retirement Administration Commission. Division of Administrative Law Appeals. Contributory Retirement Appeal Board. Administrative Law, Judicial review. Collateral Estoppel. Practice, Civil, Summary judgment, Judgment notwithstanding verdict. Employment, Discrimination. Anti-Discrimination Law, Employment, Handicap. CIVIL ACTION commenced in the Superior Court Department on May 24, 2004. Motions for summary judgment were heard by Joseph M. Walker, III, J., and the case was tried before him. Betsy L. Ehrenberg (Alfred Gordon with her) for the plaintiff. Kimberley A. McMahon, Assistant City Solicitor, for the defendant. Present: Cypher, Kantrowitz, & Fecteau, JJ. FECTEAU, J. The plaintiff, James McLaughlin, and the defendant, city of Lowell (city), each appeal from orders and judgments of a judge of the Superior Court. McLaughlin, a former fire department captain retired on a disability pension, sought restoration to service. He appeals the entry of summary judgment in favor of the city with respect to his reinstatement claim under G.L. c. 32, ยง 8(2). Having successfully brought handicap discrimination and interference claims, however, which resulted in jury verdicts in his favor, McLaughlin avers that the trial judge improperly eviscerated the remedial scheme of G.L. c. 151B and arbitrarily reduced the amount of his attorney’s fees and costs. [FN1] On the other hand, the city contends that the Superior Court lacked jurisdiction over McLaughlin’s discrimination claims and erroneously allowed McLaughlin to relitigate matters already decided before the Division of Administrative Law Appeals (DALA) and the Contributory Retirement Appeal Board (CRAB). The city additionally argues that McLaughlin did not prove a prima facie case of handicap discrimination or interference, and further, that the judge erred in giving certain jury instructions. [FN2] We affirm in part and reverse in part. 1. Background. McLaughlin began working as a firefighter with the Lowell fire department (LFD) in 1974, ultimately attaining the rank of captain. On July 8, 1996, McLaughlin suffered an asthma attack after responding to a small outdoor mulch fire without wearing protective gear. Thereafter, McLaughlin applied for and was granted accidental disability retirement under […]

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Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - July 25, 2013 at 6:15 pm

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