Posts tagged "1103918"

St. Laurent, et al. v. Middleborough Gas & Electric Department (Lawyers Weekly No. 11-039-18)

NOTICE:  All slip opinions and orders are subject to formal revision and are superseded by the advance sheets and bound volumes of the Official Reports.  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;   17-P-835                                        Appeals Court   ALLISON ST. LAURENT & another[1]  vs.  MIDDLEBOROUGH GAS & ELECTRIC DEPARTMENT.     No. 17-P-835.     April 4, 2018.     Municipal Corporations, Municipal electric plant, Governmental immunity.  Middleborough.  Massachusetts Tort Claims Act.  Statute, Construction.     Middleborough Gas & Electric Department (MGED) appeals from a Superior Court order denying its motion to dismiss for lack of presentment.  The motion judge denied the motion on the ground that MGED is not a “public employer” subject to the Massachusetts Tort Claims Act, and thus the presentment requirement of G. L. c. 258, § 4, did not apply.  We disagree and remand so that the Superior Court can address whether the presentment requirement was satisfied on the facts here.   Background.[2]  The complaint alleges that the plaintiffs were injured in October, 2013, when a ladder they were near came into contact with an “arc[ing]” electrical current.  They claim that the current came from an “improperly grounded” line maintained by MGED, and that MGED was negligent.  Between November, 2013, and July, 2015, and prior to filing suit, the plaintiffs’ attorney communicated with representatives of MGED multiple times, both orally and in writing.  Eventually efforts at presuit resolution failed, and the plaintiffs filed this lawsuit on April 19, 2016.   MGED filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the plaintiffs had failed to make presentment as required by the Massachusetts Tort Claims Act, G. L. c. 258, § 4.  The plaintiffs responded (1) that no presentment was required because MGED is not a “public employer” as defined in G. L. c. 258, § 1, as amended by St. 1993, c. 110, § 227, and thus the Tort Claims Act does not apply and (2) that in any event the plaintiffs had satisfied the presentment requirement through correspondence with representatives of MGED.  The motion judge denied MGED’s motion on the ground that MGED was not a public employer, but rather was a “commercial business.”   Discussion.  The question before us turns on the definition of “public employer,” found at c. 258, § 1, which provides that “public employer” includes “any . . . town . . . and any department . . . thereof . . . including a municipal gas or electric plant.”  In construing a statute we begin with its plain language, and we think the language here admits of only one interpretation.  See Commonwealth v. Stewart-Johnson, 78 Mass. App. Ct. 592, 600 (2011) (“A statute is to be interpreted according […]


Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - April 4, 2018 at 3:57 pm

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