Major legal publication makes front page story of NPH’s Meghan Cooper

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NPH Attorney Meghan C. Cooper appeared on the front page of this week’s edition of Massachusetts Lawyer’s Weekly, in connection with the newspaper’s coverage of her significant Appeals Court victory earlier this month. The digital version of the article is below in PDF format – just click to read it in full.

In related news, Lawyer’s Weekly has named Meghan one of twenty-five recipients of its 2015 Excellence in the Law Award for Up and Coming Lawyers. We are so proud of her for receiving this prestigious honor, although not a bit surprised. We are very lucky that Meghan has chosen to dedicate her remarkable skill set to the representation of the thousands of hard working men and women who make up the NPH labor family. We will post more on the award when it is published in April.

Cop can’t be fired for refusing to testify at civil service hearing | Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly

NPH WINS MAJOR CIVIL SERVICE CASE AT APPEALS COURT – NEW RULE OF LAW CREATED

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NPH Attorney Meghan Cooper has won a major victory for civil service employees across Massachusetts.  In a case of first impression, the Appeals Court ruled that a municipality may not discipline employees for failing to testify at local appointing authority hearings that are held – as the Court found – for the benefit of the employee and not for the benefit of the City.  To that end, the Court held that employees may not be ordered to testify at such hearings.  This decision will greatly aid civil service employees in determining how to defend themselves through the multi-layered appeals process available to public employees.

In this particular case, Meghan represented NEPBA Local 911, the Worcester Police Patrolman’s Union.  After the officer was fired by the City Manager for failing to testify at Continue reading

Civil Service Commission’s Residency Decision Upheld by Superior Court

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The 10-mile residency requirement of the Civil Service statute, GL c. 31, Sec. 58, caused much concern over the past year.  In Town of Rockland, the Commission required that the Appointing Authority examine its Fire Department roster to determine whether it was in compliance with the law; the Commission several months later heard evidence and determined that — at the time of the hearing — the Town was in compliance.  The complaining officer Continue reading

NPH Lawyers Win Vacation Benefits Case: Labor Board relies on recent NH Supreme Court precedent in case also won by NPH

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On December 23, 2014, the NH Public Employee Relations Board ruled in favor of the Goffstown Police Union, NEPBA Local 24, in a case litigated by NPH Attorneys Peter Perroni and Meghan Cooper.  The dispute involved the Town’s refusal to pay additional vacation due officers, based on additional years of service; the Town claimed that because the parties were in the hiatus period between contracts, it had no obligation to pay the Continue reading

NPH Attorneys win Serious Discipline Case for Veteran Middlesex Sheriff’s Officer: Case Highlights Challenges of Understaffed Officers in a Severely Overcrowded Jail

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NPH attorneys Gary Nolan and Meghan Cooper won a significant arbitration victory for a 30-year employee of the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office, NEPBA Local 500, in a case that brought sharp focus onto the issue of prison overcrowding, while highlighting the difficulty faced by a consistently shrinking compliment of officers. The Award of the arbitrator, rendered on Christmas Eve, overturned entirely the Sheriff’s heavy-handed discipline of a veteran, well-respected officer with an impeccable record of service.

In 2012, the Cambridge Jail, designed to hold 160 pretrial detainees, had swelled to a population of more than 400; meanwhile, officer staffing had drastically decreased. With Continue reading

NPH Lawyers Win Excessive Force Trial On Behalf of New Hampshire Police Sergeant: Prosecution’s case was based primarily on helmet camera video evidence.

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On December 11, 2014, after a contentious three-day trial in Strafford County Superior Court, Nolan Perroni Harrington, LLP lawyers Peter Perroni and Meghan Cooper successfully obtained a Not Guilty verdict on behalf of a Farmington, NH (NEPBA Local 212) Police Sergeant accused of assault during the arrest of an individual in June 2013. The trial involved so-called “helmet cam” video evidence of the encounter between police and the suspect, who was being taken into custody for a felony reckless conduct charge. After striking the officer with his motor vehicle and then fleeing the scene, the suspect was apprehended outside of his home. During a time of unprecedented scrutiny of police use of force, Attorneys Perroni and Cooper convinced the Court that the force used by the Sergeant was reasonable in the circumstances and necessary to effectuate the arrest of the individual.

Both the New Hampshire Union Leader and Foster Daily Democrat covered the story extensively. Links to coverage are below.

http://www.fosters.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20141212/GJNEWS_01/141219722/0/SEARCH

http://www.fosters.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20141211/GJNEWS_01/141219795/0/SEARCH

http://www.unionleader.com/article/20141211/NEWS03/141219741

http://www.nh1.com/videoplayer/?video_id=1131&categories=

http://www.nh1.com/news/farmington-police-officers-accused-of-assault-during-arrest-found-not-guilty/

NPH Attorney’s Win Important Labor Decision at NH Supreme Court

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After a long legal battle on behalf of NEPBA Local 295, attorneys at Nolan Perroni Harrington have won an important labor decision from New Hampshire’s Supreme Court. Last week, the Court upheld a decision by the Public Employee Labor Relations Board finding that the Strafford County Sheriff wrongfully imposed new work rules on the heels of his Deputies’ petition to unionize. In Appeal of Strafford County Sheriff’s Office, the Court found that the Sheriff had committed various Unfair Labor Practices by unilaterally Continue reading

NPH Wins Longevity Arbitration for Chelmsford Police Sergeants

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NPH Attorney Meghan Cooper won an important arbitration victory for the members of NEPBA Local 20, the Chelmsford Police Sergeants.  Attorney Cooper overcame several challenging provisions in the Collective Bargaining Agreement to demonstrate that the Town had been short-changing the Sergeants when calculating their overtime rate.  The Town did not include longevity pay in the OT calculation, and the arbitrator ordered that, from the date of the grievance forward, the Town increase the overtime calculation to included longevity pay.  In addition, due to evidence and arguments presented by Attorney Cooper relating to the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Arbitrator suggested that the Town may also be failing to include several other required compensation items in its overtime calculation.  Given the evidence and the arbitration decision, those issues may now be addressed at the bargaining table, or in future litigation.

To read the full decision, just click the link below.

Chelmsford Longevity Arbitration

NPH Wins at Appeals Court for the 2nd time defending Worcester Police Officer

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NPH attorneys have been battling for NEPBA Local 911, the Worcester Police Patrolmen’s Union, and its member Officer David Rawlston, since he was terminated in 2007.  During the past 7 years, NPH attorneys have won 2 arbitrations reinstating him, 2 Superior Court Appeals, and, now, 2 Appeals Court appeals, as well as an application to the Supreme Judicial Court.  After arguing a second appeal before the State Appeals Court, NPH attorney Peter Perroni has added this latest victory to the pile.  Just last week, the Appeals Court ruled in favor of the Union.

Click below to read the Court’s latest decision which, in particular, relates to the City’s second attempt at firing the officer (which was struck down by Arbitrator Roberta Golick.)

Rawlston 2.Appeals Ct Decision

NPH Attorneys Advocate against giving Police Chief Power to Hire and Fire

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Attorney Gary Nolan recently argued publicly, on behalf of the Dracut Police Supervisors and Patrolmen, against a proposal to give the Police Chief the power to hire and fire officers.  In a transition period between Town Managers, the Dracut Police administration proposed that the Police Chief, and not the Town Manager, be the appointing authority for the Police Department.  A similar proposal was made by the Fire Department Chief.  Together with Attorney Paul Hynes, arguing for the Fire Dept. Union, Attorney Nolan advocated strongly in opposition to the proposal. After multiple appearances before the Town’s Board of Selectmen, the proposal was defeated.

See Media Coverage of the Issue by clicking the link below:

Dracut selectmen split on strong chiefs – Lowell Sun Online

Vote keeps Dracut manager’s power intact – Lowell Sun Online

NPH Wins Civil Service Hiring Case on Important Legal Issue

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Attorney Gary Nolan recently won a case at the Massachusetts Civil Service Commission involving an interesting legal issue – particularly, the level of investigation by a City or Town required to bypass a candidate for hire.  After a full hearing, the Commission found that the Town of Maynard’s investigation in this case was inadequate to justify bypassing the police officer candidate.  As a large amount of civil service cases are driven by issues of fact, important in this case was identifying the important legal issues that would play a role in the decision, and providing a pre-hearing legal briefing of the issues to the hearing officer, which enabled the hearing officer to focus in on the issues as the evidence was presented. As a result, the officer candidate prevailed on his appeal, and was placed at the top of Civil Service the list for hire.

To read the decision, which has previously been released publicly by the Commission, click the link below:

paicos_adam_032014

NPH Wins Salary Step Arbitration for NH Officers

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NPH Attorneys Peter Perroni and Meghan Cooper recently won an important arbitration case affecting several Windham, NH Police Officers. This was the second significant win for the NEPBA Local 213 this Spring. The case involved the crucial issue of salary steps paid to officers after a Contract had expired.  The Town for several years, despite express promises to do so, refused to pay newly hired officers on the Police Union’s Wage Scale following their one-year probationary period. The Arbitrator rejected arguments by the Town and concluded that the officers were entitled to be paid all of the salary steps argued by the Union.  As a result, all officers affected were ordered to be made whole, with interest.  The award resulted in significant back wage payments to several officers.

To read the Arbitrator’s decision in full, click below:

Town of Windham SIGNED

NPH Attorneys win back injured Officer’s Seniority

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NPH Attorneys Meghan Cooper and Peter Perroni recently won an arbitration to restore the seniority of a Windham, NH Police Officer, a member of NEPBA Local 213. The officer suffered severe injuries in the line-of-duty, forcing him to go on extended leave. He returned to work after enduring multiple surgeries and extensive rehabilitation, only to find that the Town decided that his seniority date should not include the period of his injured-on-duty leave. After extensive legal arguments by the attorneys, the Arbitrator concluded that the Town’s actions were in violation of the terms of the CBA, and ordered the Officer’s seniority date be fully restored.

To read the Arbitrator’s decision in full, click below:

WindhamPolice148312dec

NPH Wins Military Leave Benefits for NEPBA Worcester Sheriff’s Employees

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NPH attorneys won an important Arbitration Decision upholding the rights of Officers at the Worcester County Jail to use their Military Leave benefits to cover weekend drills.  This practice had long been in place at the jail, and was unilaterally ended by the Sheriff, forcing the military officers to use their personal time, or go unpaid, in order to attend Military drills, even where they had plenty of contractual military leave days left to cover the days off.

NPH was proud to support this very important cause on behalf of NEPBA Local 550’s veterans.

To read our brief and the Arbitrator’s Decision, click below.

Brief of NEPBA.Military Leave WHOC

NEPBA and Worcester Sheriff’s Department award

NPH and NEPBA Win Promotional Process / Failure to Bargain Case v. Middlesex Sheriff’s Office

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NPH Attorney Kevin Buck, together with NEPBA Local 500 President Keith Sullivan, recently won an Arbitration Decision challenging the addition of promotional testing criteria for certain operational jobs at the jail.  Below is a link to Arbitrator Sherri Talmadge’s award.

Quick background – the Sheriff wanted to use the most recent promotional examination to advance members to Sgt. and/or Lt. in both non-operational positions and the Continue reading

Supervisor Liability: Another Federal Court says management can’t ask for reasons you are out sick

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Finally, some good news on the privacy front.  A couple of years ago, the NEPBA won a cutting-edge case regarding sick time inquiries by employers. We were privileged to be the lawyers for the Dracut, MA officer who bravely challenged a policy requiring that police employees provide management with specific medical information in order to get approval of sick leave, including symptoms and the nature of the illness. Based on a Federal case out of New York, we argued that such inquires violate the American’s with Continue reading

NPH Case Brief: The Six Month Clock to File an Unfair Labor Practice Charge – When does it begin to tick?

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Beware of the Bell – it tolls for thee.  Hemingway wrote it in reference to his famous character Robert Jordan, but it is good advice for Unions and their members when dealing with disputes that are within the jurisdiction of the Massachusetts Division of Labor Relations (DLR).  Failure to timely file complaints within the 6 month period could mean the death bell for the Union’s case.  So, when does the clock start ticking?

The DLR recently clarified the 6 month rule in a school committee case.  The basic rule is Continue reading

NPH Wins Important Decision in New Hampshire Regarding the Use of GPS and Dash Cameras.

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In a case of first-impression nationally, the New Hampshire Public Employee Labor Relations Board (PELRB) recently found that the Town of Derry committed an unfair labor practice by refusing to engage in impact bargaining prior to installing GPS tracking equipment and dashboard cameras in police cruisers.  NPH attorney Peter Perroni represented the Derry Police Patrolmen’s Association.  While noting that the Town had a managerial right to use the technology, the PELRB held that “the Town did Continue reading

NPH Group Estate Plan Program

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As the lawyers for thousands of working New Englanders, our office has an active Estate Planning practice.  Through the use of technology, we have been able to streamline the process by which complicated wills and trusts are drafted and signed.  This has enabled us to save clients a great deal of time, and reduce the cost of this service significantly.

Additionally, our lawyers will work with your local group to coordinate on-site visits to meet with families and execute estate documents.  This has worked tremendously in the Continue reading

Rights in Internal Investigations: Carney Rights for Massachusetts Public Employees

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By Gary G. Nolan, Esq.

Massachusetts grants public employees significant rights in the area of compelled statements that may give rise to criminal sanctions.  In fact, the rights granted by the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights are greater than those granted under the Federal Constitution.  Rights against self-incrimination arise in the context of an Employer compelling a statement from a public employee, where the answer may tend to incriminate the employee. Continue reading

COVER YOUR ASSETS: New Massachusetts Homestead Law Takes Effect

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 By Gary G. Nolan, NEPBA Counsel 

            Law enforcement officers are among the most visible public servants.  Unlike teachers and fire departments, you regularly come into contact with some dangerous and unpredictable people, as well as with good citizens who are in trouble.  Society has appointed you to keep the community safe – which means giving tickets, making arrests, and testifying against defendants.  The proper result of you doing your job is that people are often forced to pay fines and lose their freedom.  You deal with domestic violence Continue reading

**WEINGARTEN RIGHTS CARD AVAILABLE FOR DOWNLOAD**

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CLICK ON THE LINK BELOW TO DOWNLOAD OUR WEINGARTEN RIGHTS CARD/FORM.  ALL UNION REPRESENTATIVES SHOULD HAVE IT ON HAND.

WEINGARTEN RIGHTS SUMMARY AND F.A.Q.*

1.  ASK FOR REPRESENTATION – Management is not required to inform the employee of his/her rights, so be sure to ask.

2.  WHEN DOES IT APPLY? – Union members are entitled to representation when called Continue reading

LEGAL REPRESENTATION FOR THE INJURED OFFICER – A few things you need to know.

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NPH attorneys field lots of calls from injured officers.  Many municipalities prohibit police officers from returning to work unless they are 100% able to do all police functions.  Accordingly, if you have been injured in the line of duty, or have sustained injuries in an off duty accident, your ability to do your job might be seriously impacted.  Click on the link Continue reading

This is just between you and me, right Doc? Privacy, Confidentiality and the Work Ordered Medical Examination

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By Gary G. Nolan, NEPBA Counsel

This article is meant to address privacy concerns you should have when ordered to undergo a medical fitness for duty exam.  I will get to that eventually, but first want to discuss the state of our privacy in general.  I am sure we would all agree that the level of privacy we enjoy today is a mere shadow of that enjoyed by our parents.  Our lives are an open book.  Much too much about us can be learned in a very short amount of time spent online.  For reasons unbeknownst to me, not only do the government and others overly Continue reading

Dracut cops cleared of deception in drug probe

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The Lowell SunBy Robert Mills — June 23, 2011

DRACUT — Two Dracut police officers on paid administrative leave since May 2010, when they were accused of being intentionally deceptive during an investigation into the theft of marijuana from a police-evidence trailer, have been cleared of those allegations under an agreement with the town. Continue reading

Holbrook Officer Found Not Guilty in Prisoner Abuse Case

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**Click here to view Raw Video Footage and Boston Globe Report**

By Gilbert Arbuckle, BROCKTON ENTERPRISE CORRESPONDENT

September 11, 2008


HOLBROOK —Officer John P. Kearney was exonerated on Wednesday on the fifth day of his trial in Norfolk Superior Court on charges of abusing a prisoner during an arrest that he made last year.

Kearney, 39, was charged with assault and battery against Daniel Bonin, 26, now of Randolph, two counts of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, and one count of filing a false police report.

Following two hours of deliberations, the forewoman of the 12-member jury responded on each count with “Not guilty.” Continue reading

I’m Just an “Average Joe” – Do I Really Need a Will?

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by James M. Harrington, Esq.

Until reading this article, were you under the belief that, even without a will, if you or your spouse die, the other gets everything anyway? Did you ever think that you might have to share part of your spouse’s estate with your in-laws? Are you one of those people who would rather leave decisions regarding the care and custody of your children to others? Most of us should have a will, although, there is a good chance that we don’t really understand why. It is true that the need is more crucial for some than others. For example, Continue reading

Nursing Home and Medicaid Planning

What is nursing home and Medicaid planning?

Nursing Home and Medicaid Planning involves creating an estate plan designed to preserve your assets in the event that you (or a spouse) require long term nursing home care. To understand why such planning is necessary, you need to have a general understanding of what happens if you (or a loved one) require long term nursing home care. While many of us have heard stories and ads warning about nursing homes taking all of your assets or all of the assets of your loved ones, few of us really understand how it all works. Hopefully the information below will give you a better understanding how the system works and why planning in advance should be considered to save you and your loved ones from losing substantial assets in the event that a nursing home stay becomes necessary.

Continue reading

NPH REAL ESTATE AND WILLS – PRICING DISCOUNTS

With end of the year tax filing and New Years’ resolutions, we have been receiving many calls, as we do each year at this time, inquiring about union discounts for estate planning and mortgage refinancing, etc. To make things easier, attached is some basic pricing and process information that hopefully is helpful. Any inquires, please email or call Atty. Jim Harrington who will take good care of you.

CLICK BELOW FOR UNION DISCOUNTED FEE SCHEDULE:

DISCOUNTED NPH FEES FOR UNION MEMBER CLIENTS.docx

Should you buy title insurance? Don’t ask your brother-in-law

It is not too often that we run into title problems so severe that title to the property is altogether defective – meaning the owners, or so they thought, do not actually own their property. On the other hand, it is very common to come across relatively minor title defects, such as undischarged or incorrectly discharged mortgages from a prior owner. These type of defects show up often and can nearly always be fixed, usually in a fairly short time. Sometimes it may take a couple of days, a week, two weeks or a maybe a month to clear up the defect, depending on how accessible back-up documentation is and how responsive the lender is. Very often, as a seller’s attorney, we don’t find out about the title issue until a week or less before the closing after the the buyer’s attorney has let us know what came up during the title search.

In the not too distant past, buyer’s lawyers would nearly always accept an indemnification from the lawyer who had paid off the incorrectly or undischarged mortgage, based on their promise to obtain the discharge themselves, and proceed with a closing. Unfortunately, this is no longer as common a practice, as too often the indemnifying lawyer never actually does anything to clear the title matter up. As a result, it is much more common that closings are delayed for relatively minor title matters. This delay is more costly than most of us realize. The wait may very well cost you more than the cost of a title insurance policy.

When you have an owner’s title insurance policy, if there is a title defect discovered that threatens to delay or derail the sale of your home, more often than not your title insurer will agree to provide an indemnification to your buyer’s title insurer. Particularly for minor defects such as an incorrectly or undischarged (but paid) prior owner mortgage, this nearly always saves the day and keeps the closing moving forward as scheduled. Without owner’s title insurance, however, this is not an option. As a result, the sale of your home may be delayed, or worse, canceled.

In today’s market, home sale contingencies are less frequently accepted. When the sale of your home falls through and you were counting on putting the funds from the sale down on the purchase of your new house, you may find yourself unable to complete your purchase, putting your deposit in jeopardy. Assuming you are buying a new home for $300,000 – you could stand to lose a typical deposit of $15,000, never mind the costs for appraisals, home inspections and other costs that you will not recover.

Perhaps you can carry two loans for a while, so you don’t need the funds from your sale for your purchase? Or perhaps you are just selling a home and not simultaneously buying a new one? What’s the big deal? Maybe more than you think.  Let’s assume you bought your house for $300,000, and you borrowed $250,000 when you purchased. You were required to purchase a loan policy for your lender for $625, but on the advice of your brother-in-law, you held off purchasing an owner’s title insurance policy for an additional $750. After all, as he frequently reminds you, your brother-in-law knows just about everything. Now, because of a minor title issue, your closing is delayed for two weeks. During that time, you need to continue paying your mortgage interest, taxes and insurance. Assuming you still owe $250,000 on your mortgage (let’s face it, we all refinanced and took out more money), your rate is around 5%, and your property taxes are $5,000 per year. What will the delay cost you? Two weeks will cost you around $650. Three weeks puts you right around $1,000. Much longer and your going to lose your buyer and have to put the house back on the market. That will put that cost up to at least $3,500, assuming you find another buyer fairly quickly.

Bottom line, don’t listen to your brother-in-law. Title insurance may do more than just give you piece of mind and help you avoid losing your home entirely. It very well may help you avoid the time, stress and considerable amount of money that even a very minor title defect can cause.