Due to the COVID -19 crisis, KJC Law Firm, LLC has transitioned to a remote workplace. We are committed to doing our part to reduce the spread of the virus.

Our attorneys and support staff have full access to telephone messages, email and our files. Our office is almost entirely paperless, and we plan to move our cases forward with videoconferencing tools. Our clients remain our first priority, and we are available to support and assist during this time of crisis.

Our email addresses are as follows: kjcook@kjclawfirm.com; jmartin@kjclawfirm.com; twilton@kjclawfirm.com; bduggan@kjclawfirm.com; mweaver@kjclawfirm.com; jryan@kjclawfirm.com; and dkelley@kjclawfirm.com. Please feel free to contact us.

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Mild Traumatic Brain Injury: Advice from an Expert

I make it a rule not to intervene in my client’s medical treatment decisions. The most important thing is for clients to get the best medical care they can and recover from their injuries as fully as possible. I usually encourage them to consult with their primary care physician and do what they would do to get better if there were no lawsuits. The one situation I sometimes make an exception is where someone may have suffered a mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI).

Although an MTBI will not show up on conventional imaging studies like an MRI or a CT scan, it can cause severe and permanent symptoms.

Introducing Attorney Jon Karon

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Career

Jonathan A. Karon is the founder of Karon Law LLC and has recently joined the KJC Law Firm LLC as Of Counsel. Jon’s practice primarily consists of plaintiff’s personal injury cases and general civil litigation. His active trial practice includes traumatic brain injuries, amusement ride accidents, product liability, and other serious personal injury cases as well as general civil litigation. Renowned as one of the state’s best trial lawyers, Jon’s noteworthy cases include successfully representing a young girl who suffered a tragic head injury due to a defective motor cover on an amusement ride; a young boy who survived a traumatic brain injury but lost all his social skills; a young woman who broke her neck as the result of a defective go kart seat belt; and the surviving family of a wife/mother who lost her life due to an unreasonably dangerous aftermarket snowmobile part.

EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE DOCTRINE OF QUALIFIED IMMUNITY AND HOW IT PREVENTS CITIZENS FROM ENFORCING THEIR RIGHTS AGAINST LAW ENFORCEMENT AND GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS

What is Qualified Immunity for Police Officers? These Six Cases ...

As the national discussion about police reform and Black Lives Matter continues to rise in frequency and importance, it is important to consider one of the greatest hurdles to preventing police brutality: lack of police accountability.  Qualified immunity is a doctrine created by activist judges that permits law enforcement and other government officials to violate people’s constitutional rights with impunity.  Ordinary people—whether they’re doctors, lawyers, or construction workers—are expected to follow the law.  If they violate someone else’s legal rights, they can be sued and required to pay for the injuries they’ve caused.  Law enforcement and other government officials?  Not so much.  Why is this important?  Because nearly all federal and state civil rights statutes empower ordinary citizens to sue law enforcement officers and other government officials for unlawful conduct.  This is very much by design since we know from history that people, corporations, and government agencies change their behavior when they are concerned about liability. Civil rights statutes only protect people if they are enforced and until qualified immunity is revoked, the law is virtually unenforceable.

Under the doctrine of qualified immunity, public officials are shielded from accountability and liability for their unlawful conduct.  They can be held accountable only insofar as they violate rights that are “clearly established” in light of existing case law.  This standard shields law enforcement, in particular, from innumerable constitutional violations each year.  In the Supreme Court’s own words, it protects “all but the plainly incompetent or those who knowingly violate the law.”  In other words, ordinary citizens cannot even pursue a claim against law enforcement unless they can show the officer intentionally committed a crime.  It is under this rule that officers can, without worry, drag a nonthreatening, seven months pregnant woman into the street and tase her three times for refusing to sign a piece of paper.

Even as the Massachusetts economy reopens in phases, the Covid-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc on the usual way of life for working individuals, families, businesses and communities.  This article will provide useful information for anyone who is out on, or considering, Covid-related medical leave.

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The need for paid sick leave or family medical leave has increased dramatically during the pandemic for those who have contracted the disease, are at high-risk to contract the disease, and also for those who are caregivers to high-risk populations.  Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), as amended by the Coronavirus Aid Relief Economic Security (CARES) Act, certain employees who need to take time off as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic are afforded extended protections to prevent their employer from firing or otherwise retaliating against any employee because they took sick-leave.

The two key provisions of the FFCRA are the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA) and the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLEA).  These provisions and the FFCRA in its entirety became effective on April 2, 2020 and will last up through December 31, 2020.

 

Six Things Healthcare Workers Need to Know About the Massachusetts Health Care Worker Whistleblower Statute: Necessary Employee Protection Amidst the COVID-19 Fall-Out

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In Massachusetts, the Health Care Worker Whistleblower Statute (formally known as M.G.L. c. 149, sec. 187) makes it unlawful for employers to retaliate against their health care provider employees who report dangerous working conditions, and object to and/or refuse to partake in dangerous employment policies and/or practices that pose a public health risk to themselves or others.  Retaliation against healthcare workers for “blowing the whistle” on unsafe conditions is nothing new in Massachusetts.  In fact, healthcare workers are the only private employees in the Commonwealth who are protected from unlawful retaliation (demotion, termination, blackballing) for reporting safety violations.  That concept is worth repeating – retaliation against healthcare workers for reporting unsafe conditions is so prevalent that the legislature created a specific statute for healthcare workers to discourage the disturbing and prevalent practice of retaliation.

The Covid-19 pandemic has taken the importance of whistleblowers to a whole new level.  Widespread deaths in veteran’s homes across Massachusetts call into question not only the safety institution, but the “culture of silence” that kept the lid on things until it was too late; a culture so deeply embedded that healthcare workers would only speak to the press or the mayor’s office in Holyoke “on the condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation.”   These days, it is not exaggeration to say that blowing the whistle is a matter of life and death.  Many of them.  Protecting whistleblowers protects the community.

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On March 18, 2020, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) was signed into law and went into effect, under the supervision of the Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division, beginning April 2, 2020, up through December 31, 2020.

The two primary provisions of the FFCRA are Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL) and the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLEA).  Unfortunately, employers may elect not to pay employees who are classified as health care providers or emergency responders under both the EPSLA and EFMLEA, however, they do have obligations to other categories of employees, which are discussed in more detail below.

In order to receive either EPSL or EFMLEA, an employee must provide their employer (either orally or in writing) with the following documentation:

The full extent of the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic is yet to be determined, but many Massachusetts businesses are already suffering.  Those businesses may have insurance coverage available to help them survive this unprecedented economic disaster.  Unfortunately, however, insurance companies are already outright denying claims, often wrongfully, and may be exposing themselves to substantial lawsuits and verdicts for engaging in unfair and deceptive business practices.

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What is Business Interruption Coverage?

Most commercial property insurance policies provide coverage for business income loss by adding an endorsement to the insured’s property policy. This endorsement is designed to protect the insured for losses of business income it sustains as a result of direct loss, damage, or destruction to insured property by a covered peril. Although many such clauses are in use today, a typical business income insurance clause reads as follows:

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On Friday, April 3, 2020, the Helping Emergency Responders Overcome Emergency Situations (HEROES) Act of 2020 was formally introduced for consideration in the U.S. House of Representatives by Congressman Bill Huizenga of Michigan.  The bill, formally known as H.R.6433, is currently pending and has been referred to the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee for consideration.

The HEROES Act, if passed into law, would apply to counties where there is at least one positive COVID-19 patient and would provide four-months of federal income tax relief to those fighting on the frontlines during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Frontline workers under the bill would include medical/healthcare professionals such as nurses, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, hospital and licensed medical facility support staff, pharmacists, and senior care facility staff, as well as first responders such as paramedics, EMT’s, firefighters, corrections officers, and law enforcement officers.

The legislation also would afford the Secretary of the Treasury discretion to extend the federal tax relief for up to three additional months, if deemed appropriate.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act Provides Broad Relief for Federal Student Loan Borrowers

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Professionals with federal student loan debt may be entitled to some relief under the newly enacted CARES Act.

In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Department of Education Office of Federal Student Aid has automatically placed federal student loan borrowers in “Administrative Forbearance,” which enables borrowers to temporarily stop making monthly student loan payments from March 13, 2020 up through September 30, 2020.

Philanthropic and governments across Massachusetts are setting up funds to support organizations and communities that have been impacted by the coronavirus. See below for a list of funds.

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