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The COVID-19 State of Emergency and Its Legal Implications for Citizens of Massachusetts
The COVID-19 virus is affecting every facet of society. Though the long-term legal implications are still unclear, this article explores some of the legal issues that residents of Massachusetts are currently grappling with due to the COVID-19 state of emergency and what we can expect to see in the near future.
Massachusetts courts have reopened for some legal matters. This is after the courts were closed for almost all matters for most of the last 3 months.
As of July 13, 2020, individuals are allowed to make in-person visits to the clerk’s, register’s, and recorder’s offices. This includes individuals who need to meet with their probation officers.
It must be noted, however, that this is a limited opening. An expanded reopening has been scheduled for August 10, 2020. Still, judges are already allowed to begin scheduling civil and criminal trials in September.
Business owners and consumers in Massachusetts are coming to terms with the new reality the pandemic has brought about and its legal implications. As the crisis lingers on, the number of legal complaints citing breach of contract has increased.
Financial losses caused by the pandemic have forced both business owners and consumers to reexamine contracts for goods and services to find out what legal options they have to recover these losses. The resulting legal claims often involve complicated legal issues and important questions for the future.
As Massachusetts comes out of the state of emergency, we will continue to see an increase in claims being filed that allege one or more of the following:
- A failure to deliver goods or services;
- Unlawful termination of a contract;
- Nonpayment of royalties and similar remuneration;
- Price gouging;
- Failure to deliver contracted educational and academic offerings; and
- Failure to provide timely refunds or to return deposits from canceled travel events.
In addition, we are beginning to see the emergence of personal injury claims based on COVID-19 exposure, as well as, and workers’ compensation claims against employers who failed to adequately protect their employees from COVID-19 exposure or allow them to work from home.
The Real Estate Landscape
Commercial and residential real estate are not immune to COVID-19 implications either. Beginning April 20, 2020, the Massachusetts Legislatures paused virtually all eviction proceedings for the duration of the COVID-19 state of emergency. This eviction moratorium will last until August 18, 2020, or 45 days after the state of emergency has been lifted, whichever comes first.
The law prohibits all actions pertaining to evictions in Massachusetts, including the filing of new eviction cases, scheduling of eviction hearings, sending of eviction notices, judgments, execution orders, etc. This has effectively shifted a great deal of the financial stress caused by the pandemic from the tenants to the property owners.
Landlords are now left with no way to enforce the payment of rent or deal with their losses. Consequently, they too are struggling to make their mortgage payments and continue to pay their employees.
Many landlords are already lining up to initiate eviction proceedings for non-paying tenants so that the paperwork goes through on the day that the moratorium ends.
So, unless the state does something to prevent it from happening, we are likely to see a sudden avalanche of evictions after August 18, 2020, that will leave many Massachusetts families with nowhere to go.
How an Experienced Attorney Can Help
After the threat of COVID-19 has subsided, the citizens of Massachusetts will continue to grapple with the financial, social, and legal aftermath for years to come.
If you are dealing with a legal matter that has not been resolved, whether it pertains to real estate, family law, criminal law, employment law, personal injury law, or business litigation, remember that you are not alone. Our Massachusetts attorneys are prepared to guide you through the litigation process.
The Law Offices of Richard Mucci is a full-service law firm prepared to protect your rights and aggressively advocate on your behalf. Call us at 781-729-3999 or visit our contact page to schedule a free consultation.