Home Posts tagged businesses
Features

Telecommuting Can Be Taxing

By Carolyn Bourgoin and Lisa White

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the related public-health concerns, many businesses have implemented work-from-home (WFH) arrangements for their employees. Whether due to government-mandated shutdowns or voluntary efforts of employers to protect workers, there has been a significant rise in telecommuting that continues even as some states begin to relax restrictions.

Carolyn Bourgoin

Carolyn Bourgoin

Lisa White

Lisa White

Businesses with telecommuting workers need to evaluate the potential payroll and business-tax consequences created by those employees working from home in states where the business would not otherwise have a taxable presence.

Though most states have existing guidance addressing telecommuting for both businesses and workers, the unusual circumstances created by the COVID-19 pandemic has necessitated the need for states to revisit these rules. Unfortunately, there is also little uniformity among the states in both the existing guidance and the temporary guidance being issued.

In order to remove some of the uncertainty and to limit the potential adverse state tax consequences of employees working remotely, the Remote and Mobile Worker Relief Act (RMWR) was introduced to the Senate in July as part of the American Workers, Families, and Employers Assistance Act. The RMWR contains special provisions prohibiting a state and its localities from taxing the wages of an employee who is performing services in a state other than their state of residence due to the COVID-19 public-health emergency.

“Businesses with telecommuting workers need to evaluate the potential payroll and business-tax consequences created by those employees working from home in states where the business would not otherwise have a taxable presence.”

For calendar year 2020, this protection is afforded for a period not to exceed 90 days. Businesses would also be provided protections under this tax-relief package concerning their telecommuting employees. Remote workers performing duties in a state or locality where the employer does not otherwise have a presence would not automatically cause the business to be subject to taxation in that state. However, as it is unclear when or if this bill will pass, employers must continue to review the guidance of the respective states and localities where their remote workers are performing services.

Massachusetts Guidance

Massachusetts issued temporary guidance providing tax relief where an employee is working remotely in the state due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A recent technical information release (TIR 20-10) issued by the Department of Revenue provides that the presence of one or more employees working remotely in Massachusetts will not by itself create a withholding responsibility with respect to that employee if the remote work is due to any one of the following:

• A government order issued in response to the COVID-19 pandemic;

• A remote-work policy an employer adopts to comply with federal or state guidance or public-health recommendations relating to COVID-19;

• A worker’s compliance with quarantine requirements due to a COVID-19 diagnosis or suspected diagnosis; or

• A worker’s compliance based on a physician’s advice due to a worker’s COVID-19 exposure.

For businesses, wages paid to a non-resident employee who, prior to the pandemic, was performing services in Massachusetts, but who is now telecommuting, will continue to be treated as Massachusetts source income, subject to income tax and withholding. The information release further provides that, while it is in effect, the presence of one or more remote workers in the state due to the COVID-19 pandemic will not automatically create a Massachusetts sales and use tax-collection responsibility or a corporate excise tax-filing responsibility.

These provisions are effective until the earlier of Dec. 31, 2020 or 90 days after the state of emergency in Massachusetts is lifted. Employers must maintain written records to substantiate the pandemic-related circumstances that caused an employee to fall under the TIR’s provisions.

Massachusetts issued its temporary guidance with the understanding and expectation that other states either have adopted or are adopting similar sourcing rules. However, similar to the relief provided in the Senate bill discussed earlier, it would still be prudent for an employer to still review the guidance of the respective states and localities where their remote workers are performing services.

Guidance from Neighboring States

New York: New York is one of five states that has a ‘convenience of the employer rule,’ treating as New York wages any compensation earned by employees of a New York company while they are working outside the state. Under this rule, the wages of a telecommuter could be sourced to both New York and the telecommuter’s resident state, requiring payroll withholdings for both states.

A bill was introduced in the New York Senate in May that would offer relief to businesses by exempting the non-resident employee wages from New York income tax and withholding requirements for a specified amount of time. However, as of the time of this article, the New York Department of Revenue has remained silent on its position regarding these matters.

Connecticut: Connecticut is another state with a ‘convenience of the employer rule.’ However, the state only applies this rule in determining Connecticut source income of residents of states that also apply the convenience rule. Otherwise, wages are sourced to Connecticut based on the portion of services performed within the state.

The Connecticut Department of Revenue has not issued any form of guidance to date, but did respond to a state survey this past May regarding telecommuting due to the COVID-19 crisis. The agency replied that it was working on guidance that would ensure ‘fair and equitable treatment’ to both its individual residents and Connecticut-based businesses.

Rhode Island: Rhode Island has issued formal guidance similar to that of Massachusetts, providing that the presence of one or more remote workers in the state due to the COVID-19 pandemic will not automatically create an income tax-filing responsibility and sales and use tax-collection responsibility. Wages paid to a non-resident employee who is now telecommuting will continue to be treated as Rhode Island source income subject to income tax and withholding.

Businesses with telecommuting employees in other states must check to see if those states offer tax relief from withholding taxes, income-tax nexus, and sales and use tax-filing obligations created by these remote workers during the COVID-19 health crisis. Unfortunately, there is no set time frame or requirement that states issue such guidance.

Passage of the Remote and Mobile Worker Relief Act would help to remove some of the uncertainty surrounding the tax treatment of these workers. Employers in the meantime are left to monitor potential changes to state tax laws where their remote workers are located during the COVID-19 pandemic to determine whether they have relief from tax filings in the telecommuting state.

Carolyn Bourgoin, CPA is a senior manager, and Lisa White, CPA is a manager for the Holyoke-based accounting firm Meyers Brothers Kalicka, P.C.; [email protected]; [email protected]

Court Dockets

The following is a compilation of recent lawsuits involving area businesses and organizations. These are strictly allegations that have yet to be proven in a court of law. Readers are advised to contact the parties listed, or the court, for more information concerning the individual claims.

HAMPSHIRE DISTRICT COURT

East Coast Builders Group, LLC v. Kent Pecoy & Sons Construction Inc. d/b/a Pecoy Cos. and Sturbridge Development, LLC
Allegation: Breach of contract: $27,500
Filed: 7/20/20

East Coast Builders Group, LLC v. Kent Pecoy & Sons Construction Inc. d/b/a Pecoy Cos. and Sturbridge Development, LLC
Allegation: Breach of contract: $24,349
Filed: 7/21/20

HAMPSHIRE SUPERIOR COURT

Francesca Torsiello, Cassandra Torsiello, and Kimberly Torsiello v. Trustees of Hampshire College, Five College Consortium Inc., Kevin Fournier, Raymond Labarre, Dianna Williams, Eva Rueschmann, and Byron McCrae
Allegation: Breach of contract, breach of civil rights: 871,000
Filed: 5/4/20

Easthampton Precision Manufacturing Inc. v. Samson Manufacturing Co.
Allegation: Breach of contract: $68,300.20
Filed: 5/8/20

Susan Lee Hanley, personal representative of the estate of Triona Hanley v. Athena Health Care Associates Inc. d/b/a Highview of Northampton; Malcolm Dean; Gina Ianacone, RN; Jane/John Doe 1; Jane/John Doe 2; Lara D’Benedetto, LPN; Margaret Russo, MD; and Jane/John Doe 3
Allegation: Medical malpractice, wrongful death: $1,000,000
Filed: 6/5/20

Jane Doe and John Doe v. Smith College, et al
Allegation: Willful negligence; willful infliction of pain, suffering, and emotional distress; fraud, mistake, duress, and undue influence; breach of contract and warranty: $15,000,000
Filed: 6/10/20

Western Builders Inc. v. Russell Street Hospitality, LLC and Gator Pearson, LLC
Allegation: Breach of contract: $416,983.35
Filed: 6/20/20

East Coast Builders Group, LLC v. Kent Pecoy & Sons Construction Inc. d/b/a Pecoy Cos., et al
Allegation: Breach of contract, unjust enrichment: $50,548
Filed: 7/21/20

Court Dockets

The following is a compilation of recent lawsuits involving area businesses and organizations. These are strictly allegations that have yet to be proven in a court of law. Readers are advised to contact the parties listed, or the court, for more information concerning the individual claims.

HAMPDEN DISTRICT COURT

Pignatare & Sagan, LLC v. Steven J. McNamara and Robert J. McNamara d/b/a T.J.J. Brothers Inc.
Allegation: Money owed for professional services rendered: $19,070
Filed: 2/18/20

Pignatare & Sagan, LLC v. FRS McNamara Wilbraham, LLC
Allegation: Money owed for professional services rendered: $8,095
Filed: 2/18/20

HAMPDEN SUPERIOR COURT

Leon Booklall v. Waste Management of Massachusetts Inc.
Allegation: Employment discrimination: $50,000+
Filed: 2/21/20

Jorge L. Alvarez v. KFC/Taco Bell
Allegation: Negligence causing personal injury: $50,000
Filed: 2/25/20

S & S Activewear, LLC v. Bolduc’s Apparel, LLC d/b/a Bolduc’s Apparel/Lil Dogs and Todd Adelson a/k/a Todd M. Adelson
Allegation: Money owed for goods sold and delivered: $143,244.72
Filed: 2/25/20

Theresa Bernard v. Lancer Transportation & Logistics Inc., Todd Goodrich, R.M. Sullivan Transportation Inc., and Robert M. Sullivan
Allegation: Breach of agreement, interference with advantageous business relationship: $235,000
Filed: 2/26/20

Dennis J. Clark et al v. CDA Roofing and Siding Contractors et al
Allegation: Breach of contract, unfair and deceptive acts or practices: $40,000
Filed: 3/3/20

Coronavirus Cover Story Features Special Coverage

Life in Limbo

It was becoming clear weeks ago that the novel coronavirus would have some sort of economic impact once it washed ashore in the U.S. — but it’s still not clear, and perhaps won’t be for some time, how severe and wide-ranging the damage could be, as people cancel travel plans, curtail business operations, shut down college campuses, and take any number of other actions to stay safe. It’s a fast-moving story, and one that’s only beginning.

The first confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus had barely shown up in the U.S. when some of Bob Nakosteen’s students in an online graduate economics course started dropping the course because they were dealing with a more immediate issue: supply-chain interruptions in their own companies.

“These companies have supply chains that stretch into China, and, well … the word ‘disruptive’ doesn’t even capture it,” Nakosteen said. “Those chains have been completely severed. These people are absolutely in crisis mode.

“A situation like this interacts with the ethic of lean production,” he went on. “People keep limited inventories — and that’s great as long as there’s a supply chain that’s frictionless and reliable. As soon as you get a disruption in the supply chain, which could happen because of a strike, because of a virus, for any number of reasons, there’s no inventory buffer. It doesn’t cause delayed difficulty to the firm; it causes an immediate one. And that’s what you’ve got now.”

Editor’s Note:

The coronavirus pandemic is impacting this region and its business community in ways that are far-reaching and unprecedented. Visit COVID-19 News & Updates  and opt into BusinessWest Daily News to stay informed with daily updates.

More than a week has passed since we spoke with Nakosteen — a professor and chair of the Department of Operations and Information Management at Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst — for this story, meaning another week for the supply-chain situation for manufacturers and other companies to deteriorate.

In fact, when it comes to the economic impact of the virus that causes the respiratory illness known as COVID-19, now officially a pandemic, virtually everything has only gotten worse.

“We have to assume everything will be affected. Airlines are experiencing reduced demand, cancelling hundreds and thousands of flights,” he said, noting that reduced tourism will hit numerous sectors, from hotels and restaurants to ground transportation and convention halls, that rely on travelers.

“How many firms are curtailing business travel? The NCAA now plans to play playing games with empty stands,” he went on, a decision that became official soon after — not to mention the NBA suspending its season outright. “What happens to the people who provide parking and concessions? Now multiply that over hundreds or thousands of events that are scheduled to take place over the next couple of months. It’s going to have an economic effect.”

UMass Amherst

UMass Amherst is one of several area colleges and universities that are sending students home and will conduct remote classes only for the time being.

Nakosteen’s own campus is certainly feeling that impact. The day before BusinessWest went to press, the five campuses in the UMass system suspended in-person instruction and will transition to online course delivery, at least through early April and perhaps beyond. That followed a similar move by Amherst College, whose president, Carolyn Martin, told students the college was taking to heart the announcement by Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, that the U.S. is past the point of totally containing COVID-19. Other area colleges have since followed suit, or are considering their options.

“While there continue to be no reported cases of the virus on our campus, we need to focus on mitigating its possible effects,” she said, using language that will no doubt be similar to the statements other colleges, in Massachusetts and across the U.S., are currently preparing. “We know that many people will travel widely during spring break, no matter how hard we try to discourage it. The risk of having hundreds of people return from their travels to the campus is too great. The best time to act in ways that slow the spread of the virus is now.”

While all travel is slowing — for example, the governors of Massachusetts and Connecticut have both curtailed out-of-state business travel by government employees, and President Trump issued a European travel ban — Don Anderson, owner of the Cruise Store in East Longmeadow, has seen vacation travel take a major hit.

“We’re a society where, when you’re growing up, you eat your meal, and then you get your dessert. Now we have a situation where people are not having their dessert — their vacation,” he told BusinessWest. “Imagine kids not going to the islands or not going to a park, to the annual parade, not going anywhere. We are a society that works our butts off, we put in overtime, so we can have our time off. To have a year with no time off, that’s not who we are. As Americans, we want our vacation, we want our escape, so we can recharge and come back and work our butts off again.”

But they’re increasingly calling off those vacations, even though Fauci told reporters last week that cruise ships, with all the precautions they’re taking (more on that later), are safe for healthy young people.

“These companies have supply chains that stretch into China, and, well … the word ‘disruptive’ doesn’t even capture it. Those chains have been completely severed. These people are absolutely in crisis mode.”

“The bottom line is, we are unintentionally punishing ourselves by not having an escape. A good portion of our customers are going on trips, but many are not,” Anderson said, adding that he expects the industry to recover after the crisis is over. “That’s what we’re all hoping. Otherwise, it’s a dire situation for the industry and even more so for the economies that travel impacts directly and indirectly, including the United States.”

For now, though, businesses of all kinds are in a sort of limbo, bearing the initial brunt of an economic storm spreading as quickly as coronavirus itself — no one really sure how severe it will get, and when it will turn around.

Sobering Education

Many companies, from small outfits with a few employees to regional giants, are grappling with similar questions about what to do if the virus threatens their workforce. On that upper end, size-wise, is MassMutual in Springfield, which has certainly talked strategy in recent days.

“MassMutual is taking appropriate action to protect the health of our employees, their families, and our community and assure the continuity of our business operations,” Laura Crisco, head of Media Relations and Strategic Communications, told BusinessWest. “This includes limiting non-essential domestic and international business travel and ensuring employees are prepared to work remotely, including proactively testing work-from-home capabilities.”

In the meantime, MassMutual is limiting non-essential guests at its offices, enhancing cleaning protocols at its facilities, and limiting large-scale meetings, she added. “We are continuously monitoring this evolving situation, reassessing our approach, and staying in close communication with our employees.”

Most importantly, Crisco said, anyone who is sick is encouraged to stay home, and the company is also communicating basic guidance on how to prevent the spread of germs, such as thorough hand washing, using hand sanitizer, covering coughs and sneezes, avoiding close contact with people who are sick, avoiding touching faces with unwashed hands, and frequently cleaning and disinfecting touched objects and surfaces.

Kevin Day, president of Florence Bank, told BusinessWest the institution has disaster plans in place for a host of circumstances, from epidemics to natural disasters, and has developed strategies for meeting basic customer needs in case staffing is reduced.

Bob Nakosteen

“As soon as you get a disruption in the supply chain, which could happen because of a strike, because of a virus, for any number of reasons, there’s no inventory buffer. It doesn’t cause delayed difficulty to the firm; it causes an immediate one.”

“We just checked with all our managers and asked, ‘are we comfortable that everyone is cross-trained enough, so that, if your area was out, we could function?’ Pretty much everyone said, ‘yes, we have the plans right here, we know exactly what we’d do.’

He understands, however, that no one can anticipate the extent of the crisis quite yet.

“It’s not like we haven’t seen challenges in the past. Whatever challenge is presented, we’ve just got to get the right people in the building together and think about how to continue to do what we do, which is open the door and serve the customers. We have those things in place,” Day said. “As it ramps up, and all of a sudden your employees start coming down with it, the escalation would get much greater, and you might have to take more draconian steps.”

‘Draconian’ might be a word some people used when they first heard about the college shutdowns, but there’s a logic behind that move.

“While at this time there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 on our campus or in the surrounding community, we are taking these steps as a precautionary measure to protect the health and well-being of our students, faculty, and staff,” Kumble Subbaswamy, chancellor of UMass Amherst, said in a statement to students. “By reducing population density on campus, we will enable the social distancing that will mitigate the spread of the virus. There is presently no evidence that our campus is unsafe, but our transition to remote learning is intended to create a safer environment for all — for the students who return home and the faculty and staff who remain.”

He conceded that the move is a massive disruption for students and families, but said the university is committed to helping those with the greatest needs on an individual basis. Meanwhile, the Provost’s office is working with the deans to identify laboratory, studio, and capstone courses where face-to-face instruction is essential, and students in these courses will be notified whether they can return to campus after spring break.

At the same time, Martin said Amherst College will consider making exceptions for students who say it’s impossible to find another place to stay.

“It saddens us to be taking these measures,” she added. “It will be hard to give up, even temporarily, the close colloquy and individual attention that defines Amherst College, but our faculty and staff will make this change rewarding in its own way, and we will have acted in one another’s best interests.”

Elementary-, middle- and high schools may close as well, after Gov. Charlie Baker, as part of his emergency declaration last week, freed school districts from mandatory-days rules, so that they have the flexibility to make decisions on temporary closures due to coronavirus.

Specifically, the longest any school district will be required to go is its already-scheduled 185th day. No schools will be required to be in session after June 30. Schools may also disregard all attendance data for the remainder of the school year.

Reaction or Overreaction?

While some economic impacts may be inevitable, Anderson questioned whether some businesses are being hurt more than others based on, in his case, media spin that has focused on a couple of recent outbreaks on cruise ships.

“Honestly, I’m more concerned walking into the supermarket — that tomato I’m grabbing or fresh produce I’m purchasing, I don’t know how many people before me have touched it. I don’t know who’s touching the elevator button. I don’t know who entered their pin number on the debit/credit-card reader. Even when we voted, everyone who used the polling booth shared the same pens,” he said, adding quickly that election officials in East Longmeadow, where he is a Town Council member, did occasionally wipe down the voting surfaces and pens, as did other communities.

“What we do know is there’s been well over 20,000 deaths of American citizens from the flu this season alone, but I’m not seeing large, front-page stories about that,” Anderson noted. “Why aren’t there long lines out of the local CVS or Walgreens to get the flu vaccine?”

Dr. Robert Roose

Dr. Robert Roose

“We are regularly in touch with the state Department of Health as well as monitoring guidance from the Centers for Disease Control. That’s important to ensure all of our activities are aligned with the latest data and resources.”

The key, he said, is a balanced and measured response — and for people to use healthy practices all the time. As one example, he noted the hand-washing stations at the entrance of all restaurants on cruise ships. While at least two cruise lines have temporarily suspended voyages, those still operating strictly follow those protocols.

“You have dedicated crew reminding everyone and watching so you wash your hands before going in,” he said. “It’s not something you see in stateside restaurants. But on cruise ships, you have to wash your hands. These washing stations were a consequence years ago of the norovirus impacting a small number of cruise-ship passengers. As a result, the incidences onboard ships has lowered.”

Meanwhile, U.S. Travel Assoc. President and CEO Roger Dow worried about bold moves like barring European travel. “Temporarily shutting off travel from Europe is going to exacerbate the already-heavy impact of coronavirus on the travel industry and the 15.7 million Americans whose jobs depend on travel,” Dow said in a statement.

While many businesses struggle with the economic impact of the novel coronavirus and the anxiety it’s causing among Americans, others see it as a chance to expand their services.

For example, the Springfield-based law firm Bulkley Richardson launched a COVID-19 response team last week comprised of attorneys in the areas of business, finance, employment, schools, healthcare, and cybersecurity. Understanding that each business will be affected differently, the firm noted that taking proactive measures may help minimize the risk of business interruptions, and the COVID-19 response team has developed — and posted on its website — a catalog of issues to be considered by each business owner or manager.

Meanwhile, Associated Industries of Massachusetts published an expansive guide to employment-law issues that might arise due to the virus, dealing with everything from quarantines and temporary shutdowns to remote work and employee privacy issues. That guide is available at aimnet.org/blog/the-employers-guide-to-covid-19. John Gannon, a partner with Skoler, Abbott & Presser, also answers some relevant questions in this issue.

Righting the ship if COVID-19 sparks an actual recession could be difficult, for a number of reasons, writes Annie Lowrey, who covers economic policy for the Atlantic. She notes several reasons why a coronavirus recession could be difficult to reverse in the short term, including its uncertainty, demand and supply shocks at the same time (that supply-chain issue again), political polarization in the U.S., the global nature of COVID-19, and the fact that monetary policy is near exhaustion, as the Federal Reserve has already cut rates to near-historic lows, leaving little room to maneuver in the coming months

“They really don’t have much space to cut,” Nakosteen added. “Normally when the economy runs into trouble, the Federal Reserve runs in to the rescue. The problem now is we don’t have much room to rescue.”

He also cited the psychological factor that can quickly turn economic anxiety into something worse. “People say, ‘oh my God,’ they start drawing in their tentacles, and that’s when you have a recession.”

Lives in the Balance

None of this is to suggest that the economic impacts of COVID-19 outweigh the human ones. This is, foremost, a health crisis, one the healthcare community, particularly hospitals, are bracing for.

“We have an emergency preparedness committee, but those policies are sort of general,” said Dr. Joanne Levin, medical director of Infection Prevention at Cooley Dickinson Hospital. “We’ve had a lot of incidents in the past decade — we’ve prepared for Ebola, measles, H1N1, a lot of things. But each epidemic is different in how it’s transmitted and what to watch for. With each epidemic, we have to go through the emergency preparation plan and figure things out.”

Dr. Robert Roose, chief medical officer at Mercy Medical Center, echoed that idea. “We have a standard infection-control committee and a plan that we would activate whenever we have a surge of infectious-disease patients,” he told BusinessWest. “This particular situation is rapidly evolving. We are regularly in touch with the state Department of Health as well as monitoring guidance from the Centers for Disease Control. That’s important to ensure all of our activities are aligned with the latest data and resources.”

Meanwhile, the state Department of Public Health (DPH) continues to offer guidance to the public at www.mass.gov/2019coronavirus. It’s also urging older adults and those with health issues to avoid large crowds and events, while individuals who live in households with vulnerable people, like elderly parents, should also consider avoiding crowds. The DPH is also issuing guidance to long-term-care facilities, where sick visitors could endanger dozens of people very quickly.

Still, coronavirus is also an economic story, one with a plot that’s only beginning to take shape. It also may be a long story, with no end in sight.

“We’re in a position where we don’t know exactly what’s going to happen, but we can speculate on what parts of the economy are going to be affected,” Nakosteen said. “We’re all watching it play out without a whole lot of idea how it will play out.”

Joseph Bednar can be reached at [email protected]

Court Dockets

The following is a compilation of recent lawsuits involving area businesses and organizations. These are strictly allegations that have yet to be proven in a court of law. Readers are advised to contact the parties listed, or the court, for more information concerning the individual claims.

HAMPDEN DISTRICT COURT

American Builders & Contractors Supply Co. Inc. d/b/a ABC Supply Co. Inc. v. Cole Home Improvement, LLC; Stephen D. Cole a/k/a Stephen Cole a/k/a Steve Cole; and Lincoln Cole a/k/a Lincoln P. Cole

Allegation: Breach of contract for goods sold and delivered, breach of personal guaranty: $19,013.57

Filed: 1/30/20

 

Rhonda Skinner v. Family Dollar Stores of Massachusetts, LLC and Congregation Sons of Zion Inc. of Holyoke

Allegation: Negligence; slip and fall causing injury: $24,000

Filed: 2/6/20

 

Luis Vazquez v. K & D Auto

Allegation: Sale of defective vehicle, unfair and deceptive business practices: $3,475.27

Filed: 2/6/20

 

Margarita Casillas v. Walmart Inc.

Allegation: Negligence; slip and fall causing injury: $7,016.72

Filed: 2/12/20

 

Edward F. Corcoran Plumbing & Heating Co. Inc. v. 360 laundry, LLC

Allegation: Breach of contract for labor and materials: $15,446.12

Filed: 2/21/20

 

HAMPDEN SUPERIOR COURT

Jason Codding v. Holyoke Mall Co., LP

Allegation: Negligence causing personal injury: $25,000

Filed: 1/17/20

 

Tammy Isaac-Brown v. Cumberland Farms of Massachusetts Inc.

Allegation: Negligence; slip and fall causing injury: $100,000

Filed: 1/21/20

 

Gaetano “Guy” Santaniello v. Kane Scrap Iron & Metal Inc.

Allegation: Negligence; slip and fall causing injury: $200,000

Filed: 1/21/20

 

Joseph S. Puc v. Stuart Hershman, M.D.; Shivam Narendra Upadhyaya, M.D.; Dana R. Sajed, M.D.; and the Massachusetts General Hospital Inc.

Allegation: Medical malpractice: $50,000+

Filed: 1/22/20

 

Kristen Fay v. Walmart Stores East, LP; WSE Management, LLC; and Walmart

Allegation: Employment discrimination

Filed: 1/23/20

 

Richard M. Green Jr. v. the Whiting-Turner Contracting Co.

Allegation: Negligence causing personal injury: $510,000

Filed: 1/30/20

 

Irene Kathuria v. Dental Dreams, LLC and Sameera Houssain

Allegation: Employment discrimination: $120,000+

Filed: 2/4/20

 

Commerce Insurance Co. a/s/o Janette Vega v. Pioneer Valley Transit Authority

Allegation: Motor-vehicle negligence: $6,592.36

Filed: 2/5/20

 

NMD Inc. d/b/a A & M Landscaping v. JGS Lifecare Corp. f/k/a Jewish Geriatric Services Inc.

Allegation: Breach of contract, unjust enrichment: 44,802.50+

Filed: 2/5/20

 

Zachary Charbonneau v. PM Auto Transport Inc. and Matthew S. Hoydilla

Allegation: Motor-vehicle negligence causing personal injury: $64,308.75

Filed: 2/5/20

Coronavirus

Coronavirus in the Workplace

By John Gannon and Andrew Adams

John S. Gannon

John S. Gannon

Andrew Adams

Andrew Adams

For those of you not living under a rock or in Antarctica, COVID-19 (the novel coronavirus), has become a topic of everyday discourse. As the number of reported COVID-19 cases rise, so do the concerns for businesses and their employees.

Employers are wondering what, if anything, they can do to help their workplace remain safe. At the same time, employees may fear coming into the office and working alongside sick colleagues or customers. Can these folks stay home? Can employers force them to stay home? Do businesses have to pay employees who stay home? Should they pay them? These are some of the questions we tried to answer during this rapidly evolving situation.

How Does Coronavirus Relate to Workplace Laws?

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is tasked with enforcing workplace anti-discrimination laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Several years ago, the EEOC put out guidance explaining that the ADA is relevant for employers to consider during pandemic preparation because it regulates the types of questions and actions employers can take when dealing with employees suffering from medical impairments.

“Employers should maintain flexible policies that permit employees to stay home to care for a sick family member. Employers should be aware that more employees may need to stay at home to care for sick children or other sick family members than usual.”

Recently, the EEOC referenced this guidance when discussing coronavirus, and also stated that the guidance does not interfere with or prevent employers from following the guidelines and suggestions made the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about steps employers should take regarding coronavirus.

CDC’s Recommended Strategies for Employers

The CDC’s “Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19): Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers” lists several suggestions for employers to implement in their practices. We summarize the most relevant recommendations below:

• Actively encourage sick employees to stay home.

• Ensure sick-leave policies are flexible and consistent with public health guidance. Employers should maintain flexible policies that permit employees to stay home to care for a sick family member. Employers should be aware that more employees may need to stay at home to care for sick children or other sick family members than usual.

• Separate sick employees. Employees who appear to have acute respiratory illness symptoms (i.e. cough, shortness of breath) upon arrival to work or become sick during the day should be separated from other employees and be sent home immediately.

• Emphasize staying home when sick, respiratory etiquette, and hand hygiene by all employees. The CDC recommends that employers provide soap and water and alcohol-based hand rubs in the workplace, and instruct employees to clean their hands often with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% to 95% alcohol, or wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

• Advise employees to take certain steps before traveling, including checking the CDC’s Traveler’s Health Notices for the latest guidance and recommendations for each country to which employees will travel.

• Employees who are well but have a sick family member at home with COVID-19 should notify their supervisor and refer to CDC guidance for how to conduct a risk assessment of their potential exposure.

• If an employee is confirmed to have COVID-19, employers should inform fellow employees of their possible exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace but maintain confidentiality as required by the ADA.

Some Questions and Answers

Here are some of the most common questions we have been getting from businesses in connection with the coronavirus outbreak:

Can employers ask for more information from employees who call out sick? Yes, employers can ask employees if they are experiencing flu-like symptoms, as long as they treat all information about sickness as confidential.

Can employers request that employees stay home if they are experiencing flu-like symptoms? Yes, but employers should consider whether they will pay employees who are asked to stay home due to possible coronavirus exposure. Also, absenteeism policies should be relaxed if you require an employee to remain at home, or if the employee is required to stay at home due to a mandatory requirement. Employers should be mindful of employment laws that speak to sick-time usage, including the Massachusetts Earned Sick Time Law.

When an employee returns from travel during a pandemic, must an employer wait until the employee develops influenza symptoms to ask questions about exposure to pandemic influenza during the trip? No. If the CDC or state or local public health officials recommend that people who visit specified locations remain at home for several days until it is clear they do not have pandemic influenza symptoms, an employer may ask whether employees are returning from these locations, even if the travel was personal.

May an employer encourage employees to telework (i.e., work from an alternative location such as home) as an infection-control strategy during a pandemic? Yes. The EEOC states that telework is an effective infection-control strategy. In addition, employees with disabilities that put them at high risk for complications of coronavirus may request telework as a reasonable accommodation to reduce their chances of infection.

Do we have to pay employees who stay home sick? As a general rule, non-exempt/hourly employees are only required to be paid for any time they perform work. If a non-exempt employee is required by you or a public health authority to stay home, they do not need to be compensated for that time, unless they have company-provided sick-time benefits. However, businesses need to consider fairness in this situation.

Employers should encourage the use of unused vacation or personal time if the employee is out of sick time, and also be wary of employee morale problems that could arise if employees are required to remain out of the office and are forced to go without pay. This is especially true given the comments that members of Congress on both sides of the aisle have made regarding the need for American businesses to step up and pay workers for time out that may be occasioned in a pandemic scenario.

In short, employers without telecommuting options should consider paying employees for time spent under self-quarantine, even if the employee is out of sick-time benefits. Employers should also remember that their exempt employees should be paid full salaries if they perform any work during a work week, even if it is done at home.

Employers should be carefully monitoring the CDC website for updates and information. In addition, now is a good time to review your company sick-leave policy and consider whether you will allow for more time off during pandemics. We also recommend that employers consult with labor and employment counsel on this complex situation if they are planning to take action against sick employees or instituting any new policies.

John Gannon is a partner with Springfield-based Skoler, Abbott & Presser. He specializes in employment law and regularly counsels employers on compliance with state and federal laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act, and the Occupational Health and Safety Act. He is a frequent speaker on employment-related legal topics for a wide variety of associations and organizations. Andrew Adams is an associate with the firm and specializes in labor and employment law; (413) 737-4753.

Court Dockets

The following is a compilation of recent lawsuits involving area businesses and organizations. These are strictly allegations that have yet to be proven in a court of law. Readers are advised to contact the parties listed, or the court, for more information concerning the individual claims.

CHICOPEE DISTRICT COURT

Tareka Leialoha v. Bel-White Trust

Allegation: Negligence; slip and fall causing personal injury: $43,112.42

Filed: 1/7/20

FRANKLIN SUPERIOR COURT

Debra Gagnon as personal representative of the estate of Jean v. Schouler v. New England Health Center, LLC; Synergy Health Center, LLC; and Next Step Healthcare, LLC

Allegation: Malpractice, nursing-home negligence causing injury: $123,113

Filed: 2/13/20

HAMPSHIRE DISTRICT COURT

Manuel Batson Jr. v. Nini’s Italian Cuisine and Lounge Inc. and Nini’s Real Estate, LLC

Allegation: Negligence; slip and fall causing personal injury: $7,157,57

Filed: 2/13/20

HAMPSHIRE SUPERIOR COURT

Vanessa Brower v. Amherst Nursing Home Inc. d/b/a Center for Extended Care at Amherst

Allegation: Wrongful termination, discrimination, retaliation, interference: $25,000+

Filed: 2/5/20

Rosemary Eads v. Echo Hill Townhouse Condominium Trust and Structural Preservation Systems, LLC

Allegation: Negligence; slip and fall causing personal injury: $36,174.22

Filed: 2/3/20

WESTFIELD DISTRICT COURT

Richard Sabonis v. Bedard Sheet Metal Co. Inc.

Allegation: Negligence; multiple dog bites causing injury

Filed: 1/30/20

F. Michael Joseph, Esq. v. Michael B’Shara a/k/a Michael D. B’Shara and Michael’s Pasta-in-the-Pan Inc.

Allegation: Unpaid attorney services: $10,375

Filed: 2/11/20

Court Dockets

The following is a compilation of recent lawsuits involving area businesses and organizations. These are strictly allegations that have yet to be proven in a court of law. Readers are advised to contact the parties listed, or the court, for more information concerning the individual claims.

HAMPDEN DISTRICT COURT

Marvin Jordan v. Prevalent Transport Inc. and Sergey Kucherenko

Allegation: Violation of wage-and-hour laws: $2,783.75

Filed: 11/12/19

E.B. Thomsen Inc. d/b/a Thomsen Food Service v. Eight Eight One Entertainment Inc. d/b/a the Tap Room Grill and John Siniscalchi

Allegation: Money owed for goods sold and delivered: $13,203.58

Filed: 11/13/19

HAMPDEN SUPERIOR COURT

Tyra Dixon v. Michael Kors Retail Inc. and Cesar Delaza

Allegation: Employment discrimination: $25,000+

Filed: 11/12/19

Zena Sky Perez v. Rocky’s Ace Hardware Inc. and Mitchell Johnson

Allegation: Employment discrimination: $25,000+

Filed: 11/12/19

Elizabeth Sullivan, individually and on behalf of those similarly situated v. Med Express Urgent Care, P.C. Massachusetts

Allegations: Unpaid wages: $50,000+

Filed: 11/12/19

Thomas Graziano v. Meredith Corp. d/b/a Western Massachusetts News, Raymond S. Hershel, and David A. Madsen

Allegation: Defamation, employment loss, wage loss, emotional distress, damage to reputation: $489,500

Filed: 11/12/19

FCIA Management Co. Inc. v. Turley Publications Inc.

Allegation: Breach of contract, failure to provide services paid for: $37,996.03

Filed: 11/13/19

HAMPSHIRE DISTRICT COURT

Commerce Insurance Co. a/s/o Elena Volpe v. Jeffrey Miller d/b/a Cosmic Cab Co. and Daniel Hale

Allegation: Negligence causing personal injury and property damage: $9,062.88

Filed: 11/1/19

Edgardo Cancel v. Corps Logistics Inc. and James Duffney individually

Allegation: Non-payment of wages, breach of contract, retaliation, violation of overtime laws: $2,516

Filed: 11/19/19

PALMER DISTRICT COURT

Christopher Shalvoy v. Custom Creations Enterprises, LLC and Custom Creations Inc.

Allegation: Defendants misclassified plaintiff as an independent contractor: $8,262

Filed: 11/4/19

WESTFIELD DISTRICT COURT

Brenda McNair v. Knight Associates Realty Inc. and Meadow Village, LLC

Allegation: Negligence causing personal injury: $34,664.53

Filed: 11/22/19

Company Notebook

City, MGM Springfield Win Economic-development Award

SPRINGFIELD — MGM Springfield and the city of Springfield Office of Planning and Economic Development (OPED) have received a 2019 Excellence in Economic Development Award from the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) for the MGM Springfield project. The award was presented by the IEDC last month at its annual conference in October in Indianapolis. The Gold Excellence in Public-Private Partnership Award was presented to Brian Connors, the city’s deputy director of Economic Development, and was the only award category highlighted during the conference keynote event. The award recognizes outstanding and innovative development projects that have significantly enhanced revitalizations. OPED’s team was led through the MGM Springfield project by now-retired Chief Development Officer Kevin Kennedy, and also included Phillip Dromey, deputy director of Planning, and Scott Hanson, principal planner. The MGM Springfield project represented a $960 million private investment, resulting in several new-to-market amenities, including a downtown movie theater, bowling alley, ice-skating rink, four-star hotel, and several new retail and restaurant offerings. In addition, MGM’s commitment to populate existing offsite entertainment facilities became another highlight to economic spinoff, as did the commitment to $50 million each year in spending with local vendors. The project has created several thousand construction and permanent jobs and greatly enhanced local revenues, which helped fund additional public-safety, early-education, and park improvements.

United Personnel Named Among Top 100 Women-led Businesses In Massachusetts

SPRINGFIELD — United Personnel announced it has been named one of the top 100 women-led businesses in Massachusetts by the Commonwealth Institute, a nonprofit that supports female business owners. The list, published in the Boston Globe, was developed based on revenue, number of full-time employees in the state, team diversity, and innovation. The rankings feature a wide range of industries, including manufacturing, business services, healthcare, education, human services, and retail. United Personnel was number 75 on the list, and was one of only two companies based in Western Mass. represented. Focused on helping to connect people with job openings at local companies, United Personnel has seen decades of success as a women-led organization. Founded by Mary Ellen Scott in 1984 with her late husband, Jay Canavan, United Personnel is now on its second generation of female leadership under President Tricia Canavan.

Hampshire College Maintains Accreditation, Advances Plans

AMHERST — Hampshire College remains in compliance and will continue its accreditation, according to a vote by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE) at its meeting on Nov. 22. NECHE reviewed Hampshire’s progress report and five-year plans before acting to continue the college’s accreditation. The commissioners lifted their notation on Hampshire’s compliance with the standard of organization and governance, citing significant progress in this area. NECHE recognized such progress as the hiring of a new president, substantial achievements with respect to good practices for governing boards, and considerable progress in realistic planning with respect to enrollment, fundraising, and finances. The commissioners continued Hampshire’s notation on the standard of institutional resources and asked the college for a full progress report in two years, in December 2021. A team of Hampshire College administrators and trustees, led by Wingenbach and board chair Luis Hernandez, met with the NECHE commissioners on Nov. 21 and reported that Hampshire’s leadership is secure and its board of trustees governance is strong. The college is actively recruiting new students for 2020, its 50th-anniversary year, as it plans to rebuild to full enrollment by 2023-24. The college has also been conducting a rapid, community-wide process to reinvent its curriculum and student experience. In the coming months, Hampshire will draw on the continued support of its alumni, donors, friends, and community members to meet admissions and fundraising goals. Hampshire College also kicked off a major capital campaign, announcing it has already raised $11.2 million in gifts toward its campaign goal of $60 million by 2024. “Change in the Making: A Campaign for Hampshire” is currently led by four alumni co-chairs: Ken Burns (’71), award-winning documentary filmmaker; Gail Caulkins (’73), president of the Greenacre Foundation and former Hampshire College trustee; Lucy Ann McFadden (’70), retired astrophysicist, Goddard Space Flight Center, NASA, and a member of the Hampshire board of trustees and chair of its advancement committee; and Julie Schecter (’71), director and trustee of numerous organizations, including the SHIFT Foundation, co-founder of Hampshire’s Ethics and the Common Good program, vice chair of Hampshire’s board of trustees, and chair of its trusteeship and governance committee. The co-chairs are working actively to secure additional major gifts, supported by a campaign council, a diverse group of volunteers that represents the board of trustees, major donors, college leaders, faculty, staff, students, and parents. The campaign is administered by Chief Advancement Officer Jennifer Chrisler and the college’s Advancement Division staff.

People’s United Bank to Close Three Springfield-area Branches

SPRINGFIELD — Following its acquisition of United Bank, People’s United Bank plans to close three Springfield-area branches in April, all of them because they are near other People’s United locations. The closures include the former United branch at 1355 Boston Road in Springfield, the former United Branch at 1414 Main St. in Springfield, and a former Farmington Bank location at 85 Elm St. in West Springfield that People’s United acquired in 2018. All employees have been offered jobs at other People’s United offices. People’s United Financial announced in July it was purchasing United Financial Bancorp for $759 million.

Elms College Ranked in Top 15% of State’s Best Schools for Veterans

CHICOPEE — Elms College ranks in the top 15% of 2020 Best Colleges for Veterans in Massachusetts, according to data-analytics company College Factual. The college is also in the top 15% of colleges and universities in the company’s national rankings. In the list of Best Colleges for Veterans in Massachusetts, Elms College was rated ninth out of 70 higher-education institutions for veteran friendliness as reviewed by College Factual. Elms improved its standing five slots over last year’s 14th position. According to College Factual’s national list, Elms College moved from the top 25% to the top 15% with a rating of 214 out of 1,751 institutions, improving its position by 225 slots over last year’s standing at 439. This list highlights colleges and universities that are working hard to provide quality educational outcomes to veterans, active-duty military students, and their families, College Factual stated. Some of the factors taken into account by College Factual include affordability to veterans, support services, and resources specific to the needs of veterans, whether they are traditional or non-traditional students.

UMassFive Opens Branch at Northampton VA Medical Center

NORTHAMPTON — UMassFive College Federal Credit Union introduced its newest branch location at the Northampton VA Medical Center. As of October, the Northampton VAF Federal Credit Union has formally merged with UMassFive College Federal Credit Union, and former Northampton VAF members have transitioned to banking with UMassFive. With this merger, current employees of the Northampton VA Medical Center and their immediate family members are now eligible for UMassFive membership. Along with the merger, the existing credit-union branch located in Building 1, Room B204 of the Northampton VA Medical Center has been completely renovated. The new, open floor plan includes seated service areas where UMassFive representatives can provide members access to a range of credit-union products and services, including checking, auto loans, home-equity loans, solar loans, mortgages, credit cards, and investment guidance. The space also now features a video teller machine that can be accessed in the branch entryway, and allows members to perform video transactions with UMassFive tellers, even while the branch is closed. As with other UMassFive locations, members at the Northampton VA branch will have access to free financial workshops on topics like budgeting essentials, homebuying, identity theft, and planning for retirement. The hours for this new UMassFive branch are Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Off-hours access to the lobby video teller machine are available when the building and basement are open, and during regular video-teller hours. Any credit or debit card may be swiped for after-hours entry.

Freedom Credit Union Launches Cherish the Children Campaign

SPRINGFIELD — To a child in need, one special gift can be a holiday wish come true. That’s the spirit behind Freedom Credit Union’s 12th annual Cherish the Children campaign, which provides presents to hundreds of local children in time for the holidays. Freedom Credit Union (FCU), headquartered on Main Street in Springfield and serving members throughout Western Mass. through 10 additional branches, will host this year’s endeavor through Dec. 23. Equipped with ‘wish lists’ of names, ages, and gift ideas from the local area offices of the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families (DCF), FCU aims to provide gifts for a total of 600 children in need. From the wish lists, FCU has produced a tag for each child, which they will place on holiday trees at all Freedom branches, excluding the Roger L. Putnam Vocational Technical Academy. Employees and members are encouraged to choose one or more tags from a tree, purchase the item the child has requested, bring it to the branch (unwrapped and with tag attached), and place it under the tree. Monetary donations are also welcome, as FCU’s own ‘elves’ will be going on a festive shopping spree at local stores that provide them a discount for this campaign.

Yankee Home Improvement Holds Annual Food Drive

CHICOPEE — For the second year in a row, Yankee Home is engaging customers in a pay-it-forward event to provide food for those in need this holiday season. For every non-perishable food item donated, Yankee Home will give customers 1% off the cost of their home-improvement service, up to 10%. All food items will be donated to Rachel’s Table, a program of the Jewish Federation of Western Massachusetts that works to eliminate hunger and reduce food waste in the community. Through the end of December, Yankee Home will be accepting non-perishable food items Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at its 36 Justin Dr. headquarters in Chicopee. While the discount is capped at 10% of the total cost of the service, people are encouraged to donate as much as they can. The discount applies to installed, new work only. A Yankee Home specialist can provide complete details.

Florence Bank Receives Award From U.S. Small Business Administration

FLORENCE — Florence Bank was recently recognized by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) as the Western Massachusetts Third Party Lender of the Year for loans the bank administers to small businesses in the area. Michael Davey and Erin Couture, both vice presidents and commercial loan officers with the bank, accepted the award on Nov. 8 at an event held during SBA’s annual meeting at Clark University in Worcester. Davey explained that third-party loans, called SBA 504 loans, are offered by the bank in collaboration with certified development corporations such as Granite State Development Corp., Bay Colony Development Corp., and BDC Capital/CDC New England. He said the program allows small-business owners who might be lacking the traditional 20% down payment to purchase business property with only 10% down, while also reducing the bank’s exposure to risk.

Court Dockets

The following is a compilation of recent lawsuits involving area businesses and organizations. These are strictly allegations that have yet to be proven in a court of law. Readers are advised to contact the parties listed, or the court, for more information concerning the individual claims.

CHICOPEE DISTRICT COURT

The Freeman Manufacturing & Supply Co. v. Diecutting Tooling Services Inc.

Allegation: Money owed for goods sold and delivered: $8,486.23

Filed: 10/28/19

FRANKLIN SUPERIOR COURT

Lloyd Bowser v. FIC Restaurants Inc. and SIC Property, LLC

Allegation: Negligence; slip and fall causing personal injury: $257,366.03

Filed: 10/17/19

HAMPDEN DISTRICT COURT

Perkins Paper, LLC v. Stone & Skillet, LLC; Dan Crothers a/k/a Daniel Ryan Crothers a/k/a Daniel R. Crothers; and Kyle Meekins a/k/a Kyle Lennon Meekins a/k/a Kyle L. Meekins

Allegation: Failure to make further payments in accordance with contract: $57,660.05

Filed: 10/18/2019

HAMPDEN SUPERIOR COURT

Kristine Mitchell v. 61 Cooper Street Operations, LLC and Genesis Healthcare, LLC

Allegation: Negligence; slip and fall causing personal injury: $76,222.96

Filed: 10/15/2019

The estate of Mary Garibian and Sarkis Garibian v. East Longmeadow Nursing Home Inc. d/b/a East Longmeadow Skilled Nursing Center and other unnamed employees

Allegation: Medical malpractice

Filed: 10/15/2019

Gary Nault v. LLMT, LLC

Allegation: Balance due on uncompleted project, services, labor, and materials: $33,333

Filed: 10/18/2019

Guns Inc. et al v. Mass Gun Shop d/b/a Pioneer Valley Arms

Allegation: Fraud/interference with business, conversion, intentional interference with advantageous business and contractual relationships

Filed: 10/21/2019

Sertex, LLC v. Westfield Gas and Electric Light Department, et al

Allegation: Breach of non-raiding agreement by hiring one of Sertex’s key technical employees

Filed: 10/21/2019

HAMPSHIRE SUPERIOR COURT

Split Excvating Inc. v. Silverman Realty Group Inc. and Haven Plaza East, LP

Allegation: Fraud, breach of contract, breach of warranty, breach of covenant of good faith and fair dealing, negligent misrepresentation, unjust enrichment, negligence: $59,745.25

Filed: 10/22/19

Lisa Thibodeau v. PBHQ Whitney Inc.; Colebrook Management, LLC; and G & H Landscaping Inc.

Allegation: Negligence; slip and fall causing personal injury: $250,000

Filed: 10/23/19

WESTFIELD DISTRICT COURT

Carl Lehberger v. David W. Berry Jr., Bruce Cooper, and Berry Construction Group, LLC

Allegation: Assault, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress, property damage/loss: $7,738.86+

Filed: 10/9/19

Court Dockets

The following is a compilation of recent lawsuits involving area businesses and organizations. These are strictly allegations that have yet to be proven in a court of law. Readers are advised to contact the parties listed, or the court, for more information concerning the individual claims.

CHICOPEE DISTRICT COURT
Carmen Lopez v. Gleason Johndrow Landscaping Inc.
Allegation: Negligence; slip and fall causing injury: $5,729+
Filed: 10/11/19

FRANKLIN SUPERIOR COURT
Christian Goodchild v. Veterinary Emergency & Specialty Hospital, Dr. John Benson, and Dr. Kira Randall
Allegation: Negligence, negligent infliction of emotional distress: $37,500
Filed: 8/23/19

Tricia Torrey v. United Personnel Services Inc. and James Kervick
Allegation: Employment discrimination: $70,000
Filed: 9/12/19

HAMPDEN SUPERIOR COURT
Kathleen Rapoza and Joseph Rapoza v. Bond Street Development
Allegation: Negligence; slip and fall causing personal injury: $219,026.03
Filed: 10/3/2019

Smith & Wesson Inc. v. Frontier Enterprises, LLC
Allegation: Money owed for goods sold and delivered: $47,433.88
Filed: 10/4/2019

Heritier Kampew v. Balise Motor Sales Co. Inc.
Allegation: Fraud, emotional distress, defamation: $100,000
Filed: 10/7/2019

Michelle Magner v. Balise Motor Sales Co., James E. Balise Jr., and Timothy Ingerson
Allegation: Employment contract: $25,000
Filed: 10/7/2019

Jonathan Crothers, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated v. Crosstown Courier Service Inc. and Christopher J. Noyes
Allegation: Money owed for labor and services: $25,000+
Filed: 10/15/2019

HAMPSHIRE SUPERIOR COURT
Mason Woolley v. Smith College and Hampshire College
Allegation: Breach of contract, violation of covenant of good faith and fair dealing, unjust enrichment: $32,500
Filed: 10/8/19

PALMER DISTRICT COURT
Daniel Narreau v. Zoetis Inc.
Allegation: Breach of contract, negligence, gross negligence, animal cruelty, negligent design and manufacturing: $7,000
Filed: 10/15/2019

WESTFIELD DISTRICT COURT
John Deere Construction & Forestry Co. v. Joshua A. Ayotte d/b/a Ayotte Tree Services
Allegation: Default on loan for equipment purchased: $13,540.02
Filed: 9/3/19

Court Dockets

The following is a compilation of recent lawsuits involving area businesses and organizations. These are strictly allegations that have yet to be proven in a court of law. Readers are advised to contact the parties listed, or the court, for more information concerning the individual claims.

HAMPDEN DISTRICT COURT
Anna Coriano v. Chapin Laurel, LLC; Atlas Property Management Inc.; and Ilya Shnayder
Allegation: Negligence causing personal injury: $2,094
Filed: 8/12/19

HAMPDEN SUPERIOR COURT
Crystal Rodriguez v. Big Y Foods
Allegation: Negligence; slip and fall causing personal injury: $11,903.08
Filed: 7/26/19

Ted Decosmo v. MGM Springfield, LLC
Allegation: Breach of contract, unjust enrichment: $25,000+
Filed: 7/29/19

Carlos Santiago v. Wil-Sites Truck Lines, LLC and Top Truck Services Corp.
Allegation: Negligence causing personal injury and property damage: $288,000
Filed: 7/29/19

F.P. McNamara Rubbish Removal Inc. v. Joseph Freedman Co. Inc. and Stevens Street Realty Inc.
Allegation: Nuisance, negligence, trespass: $25,000+
Filed: 7/30/19

NMD Inc. d/b/a A&M Landscaping v. Wingate Healthcare Inc., SRC East Longmeadow Inc. d/b/a Wingate at East Longmeadow, and SRC Springfield Inc. d/b/a Wingate at Springfield
Allegation: Breach of contract, unjust enrichment: $55,245
Filed: 7/31/19

Anileda Tudisco v. Riverside Park Enterprises d/b/a Six Flags New England
Allegation: Negligence causing personal injury, breach of warranty: $368,132
Filed: 8/2/19

HAMPSHIRE SUPERIOR COURT
Jehann Elbisi v. Related Village Park, LLC
Allegation: Negligence causing personal injury: $6,388
Filed: 8/7/19

Kate Faulkner v. Double Edge Theatre Productions Inc.
Allegation: Negligence causing personal injury: $233,202.13
Filed: 8/9/19

PALMER DISTRICT COURT
QuadGraphics Inc. v. Turley Publications Inc.
Allegation: Balance due for marketing and printing services rendered: $4,795
Filed: 8/23/19

WESTFIELD DISTRICT COURT
Saltine Warrior Inc. v. C and C Contractors, LLC and Reginald Cole
Allegation: Breach of contract, unpaid bills: $7,572.34
Filed: 8/7/19

Court Dockets

The following is a compilation of recent lawsuits involving area businesses and organizations. These are strictly allegations that have yet to be proven in a court of law. Readers are advised to contact the parties listed, or the court, for more information concerning the individual claims.

CHICOPEE DISTRICT COURT

Lazarito Martinez v. Diane Rose and the May Institute

Allegation: Motor-vehicle negligence causing personal injury: $3,435

Filed: 7/2/19

FRANKLIN SUPERIOR COURT

Barbara Sullivan v. Healthcare Services Group Inc.

Allegation: Negligence; slip and fall causing injury: $700,000

Filed: 6/27/19

Robert T. Akey v. Meadowview Manor Condominium Trust, Steve Moran, and Noreen Nowak-Moran

Allegation: Negligence causing personal injury: $16,234.78

Filed: 7/3/19

Chrysta Marini v. Demetrious Konstantopoulos and Demetrious Konstantopoulis d/b/a Castaways

Allegation: Assault and battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress

Filed: 7/3/19

HAMPDEN SUPERIOR COURT

Catherine Kelly v. L & J Properties, LLC and Q & M Christy’s Inc. d/b/a A Bica Bar & Grill

Allegation: Negligence; slip and fall causing personal injury: $28,496.94

Filed: 6/20/19

Stacey Hathaway v. Eastern States Exposition and Donna Woolam

Allegation: Employment discrimination: $450,000

Filed: 6/21/19

Yvette Frisby v. City of Springfield

Allegation: Negligence causing personal injury: $9,476.80

Filed: 6/21/19

NGM Insurance Co. as subrogee of Beverly A. Scott and James Scott v. Pioneer Valley Transit Authority

Allegation: Motor-vehicle negligence: $12,420.17

Filed: 6/27/19

Steven S. Follett and Caitlin C. Follett v. Dan Roulier & Associates Inc., the Joseph J. Mottes Co., and Becker Construction Co.

Allegation: Breach of contract, breach of covenant of good faith and fair dealing, negligence, breach of implied warranty of habitability, breach of express warranty: $250,000

Filed: 7/1/19

International Container Co., LLC v. Sheboygan Paint Co.

Allegation: Breach of contract: $1,000,000+

Filed: 7/2/19

Systemart, LLC v. Cloudbourne Global Inc. f/k/a Ospyn Technologies Inc.

Allegation: Balance owed for staffing services: $39,337.88

Filed: 7/3/19

Syme Inc. d/b/a Packaging Specialties Inc. v. BKA Inc. d/b/a Custom Pak Inc.

Allegation: Breach of contract: $109,853.04

Filed: 7/3/19

HAMPSHIRE SUPERIOR COURT

David S. Reid v. Louis S. Strauss, M.D.

Allegation: Medical malpractice: $505,100+

Filed: 6/21/19

Court Dockets

The following is a compilation of recent lawsuits involving area businesses and organizations. These are strictly allegations that have yet to be proven in a court of law. Readers are advised to contact the parties listed, or the court, for more information concerning the individual claims.

HAMPDEN SUPERIOR COURT

Richard Green Jr. v. the Whiting-Turner Contracting Co.
Allegation: Negligence causing personal injury: $406,225.60
Filed: 6/6/19

Michael Sullivan v. Dr. Matthew Charles and New Beginnings Chiropractic, P.C.
Allegation: Medical malpractice: $271,867
Filed: 6/7/19

Mercedes Balcewicz as representative of the estate of Angel A. DeCastro v. the Collins Cos., et al
Allegation: Wrongful death: $6,000,000+
Filed: 6/10/19

Maria D. Mendoza v. Riverside Park Enterprises Inc. and Six Flags Entertainment Corp.
Allegation: Negligence causing personal injury: $25,152.34+
Filed: 6/11/19

Erick Santana-Colon and Anette Rivera-Colon v. National Retail Systems Inc. and Schneider National Inc.
Allegation: Negligence causing personal injury: $23,993.90
Filed: 6/17/19

Nancy Paquette v. Home Depot U.S.A. Inc.
Allegation: Negligence causing personal injury: $15,000
Filed: 6/18/19

Tina Lynch v. Wal-Mart Stores East, LP and UE Chicopee Holding, LLC
Allegation: Negligence; slip and fall causing personal injury: $25,529.63
Filed: 6/19/19

Mabel Lemieux v. American Blue Ribbon Holdings, LLC; Ninety Nine Restaurant Inc.; and Kantany, LLC
Allegation: Negligence; slip and fall causing personal injury: $35,294.01+
Filed: 6/20/19

HAMPSHIRE SUPERIOR COURT

Five Star Building Corp. v. Hadley Concrete Services, LLC and Christopher J. Baj
Allegation: Breach of contract, negligence, breach of implied warranty of good faith and fair dealing: $288,534.20
Filed: 6/18/19

FRANKLIN SUPERIOR COURT

Hilda Worden v. the Thomas Memorial Golf & Country Club Inc.
Allegation: Negligence causing personal injury: $37,332.07+
Filed: 5/8/19

Financial Pacific Leasing, LLC v. Leroy Page Sr. d/b/a Page Construction
Allegation: Breach of equipment finance agreement: $69,803.88
Filed: 5/16/19

Laura Liebenow individually and d/b/a Laura Liebenow Handling v. Stephen Blanco individually and d/b/a Empyrean Australian Shepherds
Allegation: Breach of contract, breach of duty of good faith and fair dealing: $31,269.47+
Filed: 5/21/19

Joanne Kuzmeskus, personal representative for the estate of Louise Kujdzio v. Jane Doe, RN; Jennifer Jordan, RN; Sarah Marchefka, NP; Lisa Levheim, M.D.; and Joshua Mintz, M.D.
Allegation: Medical malpractice, wrongful death: $25,000+
Filed: 6/5/19

Court Dockets

The following is a compilation of recent lawsuits involving area businesses and organizations. These are strictly allegations that have yet to be proven in a court of law. Readers are advised to contact the parties listed, or the court, for more information concerning the individual claims.

CHICOPEE DISTRICT COURT
Amanda Banks v. William Lonny Koons, J.B. Hunt Transport Inc., and Family Dollar Inc.
Allegation: Motor-vehicle negligence causing injury: $3,922
Filed: 4/10/19

HAMPDEN DISTRICT COURT
Michael Morales v. Stephen Smith and Fletcher Sewer & Drain Inc.
Allegation: Motor-vehicle negligence causing personal injury: $6,938.84
Filed: 4/2/19

Geraldine Lauriente v. Liberty Medical Building Assoc., LLP and Samuel D. Plotkin & Associates Inc.
Allegation: Negligence; slip and fall causing personal injury: $7,034.22
Filed: 4/17/19

Mary Lou Madigan v. State Street Retail, LLC d/b/a Family Dollar
Allegation: Negligence; slip and fall causing personal injury: 7,680.57
Filed: 4/24/19

HAMPDEN SUPERIOR COURT
D. Bradley Sullivan, Ph.D. v. Western New England University
Allegation: Breach of contract, family medical leave retailiation: $568,546
Filed: 4/19/19

Deborah Alves v. Stop & Shop
Allegation: Negligence; slip and fall causing personal injury: $83,598.28+
Filed: 4/20/19

Gerald M. Daniele v. Our Lady of Mount Carmel Society Inc.
Allegation: Negligence causing personal injury: $35,560.30
Filed: 4/22/19

North Mill Capital, LLC v. Green Publishing Co. Inc.
Allegation: Money owed for goods sold and delivered: $45,908.64
Filed: 4/24/19

Springfield Florist Supply Inc. v. Pat Parker and Sons Florist
Allegation: Money owed for goods sold and delivered: $32,888.03
Filed: 4/25/19

Mariahelena Andre as personal representative of the estate of Barbara Leitao v. Wingate Healthcare Inc.
Allegation: Personal injury and wrongful death: $65,000
Filed: 4/25/19

Yolanda Rosario v. Northeast Health Group Inc. d/b/a Willimansett Center West
Allegation: Discrimination, retailiation, wrongful termination: $25,000+
Filed: 4/29/19

Fred C. Gloeckner & Co. Inc. v. Liberty Family Farms Inc.
Allegation: Money owed for goods sold and delivered: $92,560.70
Filed: 4/30/19

Mohamed A. Ali v. Bernardino’s Bakery
Allegation: Employment discrimination: $36,060
Filed: 5/2/19

Maria Cruz v. Willimansett Center West RE, LLC; Willimansett Center West; and the Northeast Health Group Inc.
Allegation: Negligence causing personal injury: $35,000
Filed: 5/2/19

HAMPSHIRE DISTRICT COURT
Julie Foley v. ServiceNet Inc.
Allegation: Negligence; slip and fall causing personal injury: $26,426.25
Filed: 5/1/19

HAMPSHIRE SUPERIOR COURT
Nancy L. Abdalla, personal representative of the estate of Isam Abdalla v. Vijaya K. Vudathaneni, M.D.; Ghanshyambhai T. Savani, M.D.; and Syed S. Ali, M.D.
Allegation: Medical malpractice, wrongful death: $1,517,302
Filed: 4/29/19

Court Dockets

The following is a compilation of recent lawsuits involving area businesses and organizations. These are strictly allegations that have yet to be proven in a court of law. Readers are advised to contact the parties listed, or the court, for more information concerning the individual claims.

FRANKLIN SUPERIOR COURT

Jonathan Bones v. Stokes and Lipski Construction Inc.

Allegation: Failure to pay prevailing rate of wages

Filed: 3/5/19

HAMPDEN DISTRICT COURT

Perkins Paper, LLC v. One Importers and Distributors, LLC d/b/a Terra Nossa Center Bakery and Joao Cardoso Araujo a/k/a Joao C. Dearaujo a/k/a Joao Araujo a/k/a John Damota

Allegation: Money owed for goods sold and delivered: $24,199.93+

Filed: 4/10/19

Perkins Paper, LLC v. Diesel Inc. and Robert Passaretta

Allegation: Breach of contract, money owed for goods sold and delivered: $7,408.81

Filed: 4/5/19

HAMPDEN SUPERIOR COURT

Frances Mohsin v. Gandara Mental Health Center Inc., Jerry Mercardo, and Madeline Martinez

Allegation: Employment discrimination: $25,000+

Filed: 4/1/19

Tammy L. Newsome v. Baystate Medical Center Inc.

Allegation: Employment discrimination: $25,000+

Filed: 4/3/19

Janis Creeger v. Friendly’s Ice Cream, LLC

Allegation: Negligence; slip and fall causing injury: $84,352.68

Filed: 4/4/19

Ingram Micro Inc. v. Daniel Mugure d/b/a Ivory Onyx Inc.

Allegation: Money owed for goods sold and delivered: $108,712.49

Filed: 4/5/19

Autumn Padilla v. Mont Marie Operator, LLC

Allegation: Employment discrimination: $25,000+

Filed: 4/8/19

Joan Marie G. Turgeon as personal representative of the estate of Raymond P. Turgeon v. Berkshire Health Care Systems Inc. d/b/a East Longmeadow Skilled Nursing, et al

Allegation: Medical malpractice, wrongful death: $925,000

Filed: 4/8/19

Seth Luciano v. Aldi Inc. and Aldi Inc. (New York)

Allegation: Negligence: slip and fall causing personal injury: $100,000

Filed: 4/10/19

Glenn Mackintosh v. Ludlow Housing Authority and Robin Carvide

Allegation: Whistleblowing violation, breach of contract, tortious interference with contractual relation, negligent infliction of emotional distress, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and breach of covenant of good faith and fair dealing: $34,174.40

Filed: 4/11/19

Northern Tree Service Inc. v. Newport Construction Corp.

Allegation: Breach of contract: $67,075

Filed: 4/11/19

Ruddy Santana v. Positronic Farms Inc., Morriss Partee, Matthew Moriarty, and David Caputo

Allegation: Violation of overtime law, violation of minimum-wage law, breach of contract, unjust enrichment, and breach of covenant of good faith and fair dealing: $25,000+

Filed: 4/12/19

HAMPSHIRE DISTRICT COURT

Loretta Stober and Gregory Fournier v. Vivint Solar Developer, LLC and DC Generals, LLC

Allegation: Breach of express warranties, breach of covenant of good faith and fair dealing, negligence: $20,203.25+

Filed: 4/11/19

HAMPSHIRE SUPERIOR COURT

Novum Structures, LLC v. Barr & Barr Inc., Liberty Mutual Insurance Co., and trustees of Amherst College

Allegation: Breach of contract, money owed for labor and materials: $526,019

Filed: 4/4/19

Catherine Darcy v. Friendly’s Ice Cream, LLC

Allegation: Negligence; slip and fall causing injury: $25,000

Filed: 4/23/19

WESTFIELD DISTRICT COURT

Bobby Pinkney v. Rocky’s Hardware Inc. and Liberty Mutual Insurance Co.

Allegation: Negligence causing personal injury: $7,215

Filed: 4/4/19

Court Dockets

The following is a compilation of recent lawsuits involving area businesses and organizations. These are strictly allegations that have yet to be proven in a court of law. Readers are advised to contact the parties listed, or the court, for more information concerning the individual claims.

HAMPDEN DISTRICT COURT

Beacon Sales Acquisitions Inc./Allied Building Products v. Rhode Island Solar Solutions Inc., Anestis Taskos, and Michael Staab a/k/a Michael D. Staab

Allegation: Money owed for goods sold and delivered, breach of personal guaranty: $20,638.93

Filed: 4/10/19

HAMPDEN SUPERIOR COURT

Bruce Langevin v. Parts Tool and Die Inc.; Cheryl Holtham Havel, CPA; Ronald D. Coleman Jr.; Red Deer Investments Inc.; Deborah L. Elias; and Aziz L. Elias, Azdeb, M.F.G. Inc.

Allegation: Employment discrimination: $25,000+

Filed: 3/18/19

Raymond E. Kemple v. Costco Wholesale Corp.

Allegation: Negligence; slip and fall causing personal injury: $23,902.72

Filed: 3/18/19

Darrian Plasse v. Merchants Metals, LLC

Allegation: Negligence causing personal injury: $20,592.72

Filed: 3/19/19

Cari Kasulinous v. Garra, LLC

Allegation: Negligence; slip and fall causing personal injury: $17,097.52

Filed: 3/15/19

Commerce Insurance Co. as subrogee of Mausela Rivie and Aisha Correa v. Pioneer Valley Transit Authority

Allegation: Negligence causing personal injury and property damage: $3,737.52

Filed: 3/18/19

Landon Lima, a minor, by and through his mother and next best friend, Liat Lima, and Liat Lima individually v. FIC Restaurants Inc. and Friendly’s Restaurants, LLC

Allegation: Negligence causing personal injury: $21,517.54

Filed: 3/21/19

Candy Fagone v. WJFP 4 Inc. d/b/a McDonald’s Restaurant and McDonald’s USA, LLC

Allegation: Negligence; slip and fall causing personal injury: $101,610.54

Filed: 3/21/19

Janet Cossette v. Costco Wholesale Membership Inc. and Costco Wholesale Corp.

Allegation: Negligence causing personal injury: $143,447.13

Filed: 3/21/19

Shonnelle Norman v. Pioneer Valley Transit Authority

Allegation: Motor-vehicle negligence causing personal injury: $26,143+

Filed: 3/26/19

Kimberly Reynolds as personal representative for the estate of Robert J. Siddell Jr. v. Amat Victoria Curam, LLC and RR and Co. Realty, LLC

Allegation: Negligence; slip and fall causing personal injury

Filed: 3/28/19

Craig E. Tirrell v. Mr. Home Inc.

Allegation: Improper deduction of wages, breach of contract, and unjust enrichment: $55,350

Filed: 4/2/19

Court Dockets

The following is a compilation of recent lawsuits involving area businesses and organizations. These are strictly allegations that have yet to be proven in a court of law. Readers are advised to contact the parties listed, or the court, for more information concerning the individual claims.

CHICOPEE DISTRICT COURT
Nilda Nunes v. James Smith and EAN Holdings, LLC d/b/a Enterprise
Allegation: Motor-vehicle negligence: $8,970.53
Filed: 3/26/19

HAMPDEN DISTRICT COURT
Harold Levinson Associates Inc. v. Mehran Enterprises Inc. d/b/a Pick N Pay Food Mart and Jessica Newman a/k/a Jessica L. Newman a/k/a Jessica Lyn Newman
Allegation: Money owed for goods sold and delivered: $24,171.76
Filed: 3/1/19

Beacon Sales Acquisition Inc. d/b/a Beacon Sales Co. v. James J. Shiels Jr. d/b/a Jimmy Shiels General Contracting
Allegation: Money owed for goods sold and delivered: $12,078.29
Filed: 3/4/19

HAMPDEN SUPERIOR COURT
Now Plastics v. Longmeadow Park, LLC
Allegation: Breach of lease contract: $500,000
Filed: 2/27/19

Matthew Levy, on behalf of himself and all others similarly situated v. Pride Stores, LLC
Allegation: Failure to pay wages: $40,000
Filed: 3/1/19

Miranda Arthur-Smith v. Mass. Westfield Limited Partnership and Aspen Square Management Inc.
Allegation: Negligence causing personal injury: $88,500
Filed: 3/4/19

Elizabeth Jimenez v. Pyramid Management Group, LLC
Allegation: Negligence; slip and fall at Holyoke Mall causing personal injury: $29,735.39
Filed: 3/4/19

Theresa Grant McElwain and Andrew McElwain v. Bacarella Trucking Services Inc. and William Kampfman
Allegation: Motor-vehicle negligence causing personal injury and property damage: $10,599.88
Filed: 3/7/19

Annette Jung v. Trustees of Financial Plaza Trust
Allegation: Negligence; slip and fall causing personal injury: $111,586.46
Filed: 3/11/19

Gianmy Castillo v. Zamiah Restaurant Corp. d/b/a Malecon Bar & Restaurant
Allegation: Negligence; slip and fall causing personal injury: 95,638.20
Filed: 3/11/19

HAMPSHIRE DISTRICT COURT
Mitchell A. Lopes and Brittany O. Shawanda v. World War II Veterans’ Assoc. of Hampshire County Inc. d/b/a World War II Club – The Deuce, Steven J. Connor, and Mathieu Tebo
Allegation: Unpaid wages: $23,000
Filed: 4/3/19

HAMPSHIRE SUPERIOR COURT
Stephen Allard Trudel v. Clement Grassi, M.D.
Allegation: Medical malpractice: $500,000+
Filed: 3/6/19

Fernanda Ferrando v. Amherst Shopping Center Associates, LLC; Wilson Construction General Contractor; Peter Wilson d/b/a Wilson Construction General Contractor; and Daniel Wilson d/b/a Wilson Construction General Contractor
Allegation: Negligence; slip and fall causing personal injury: $74,999.99
Filed: 3/29/19

Kelly Loncrini v. Lowe’s Home Centers, LLC and Sean Eagan
Allegation: Employment discrimination: $25,000+
Filed: 4/3/19

Features

Hopes Are High

After recreational marijuana use became legal in Massachusetts in 2016, the expectation was that retail stores would pop up quickly within a couple of years. That hasn’t happened, as the state — and host communities — have taken a deliberately measured approach to permitting. But with early returns strong from a few shops, and towns reporting solid tax benefits and no real community disruption, the pace of openings should begin to increase — and so will the economic benefits of this new industry.

If Western Mass. was full of people who thought the sky was falling when recreational marijuana was legalized, well, Mark Zatyrka thinks fewer of them are saying the same thing now.

“I knew it would change. But I feel like it’s changed at a more rapid pace than I would have expected,” he said of public perceptions about the new access to cannabis products in the Bay State. “When we held our public meetings, we had a few folks who thought we were going to destroy the world and everything would come crashing down once we opened. But the opposite has been true.”

Take the location of INSA, the cannabis dispensary he owns in Easthampton, which has sold marijuana for medical purposes since February 2018, but began selling for recreational, or adult, use in December. Tucked beside Eastworks at the rear of the Keystone Mills building on Pleasant Street, he said some may have worried about INSA’s proximity to a nearby park where people hike.

“But, really, we bring more people to the area, we have cameras all over the place, it’s well-lit, so it’s actually a safer place to be,” Zatyrka said. “If the perception was that customers are hoodlums who come in, go out back, and get high and do crime, well, look around — we serve almost every demographic you can imagine, from seniors to millennials, rich and poor, and they’re not violent criminals. They’re not here to cause trouble. Yeah, the perception has changed pretty rapidly.”

Perceptions — pro and con — of this new industry have undoubtedly shaped a permitting process, on both the state and local levels, that has moved more slowly than first expected when recreational use became legal in 2016. The state’s first adult-use retail shops were expected to be open last July, but instead, the first two opened in November, and the pace of new shops since then has been leisurely at best.

But they’re coming. And the ones that are open are changing those worst-case perceptions.

Mark  Zatyrka says INSA has attracted a diverse array of customers

Mark Zatyrka says INSA has attracted a diverse array of customers since starting recreational sales in December.

Take New England Treatment Access (NETA) in Northampton, the Bay State’s first retailer of cannabis products for recreational use.

“For us, it’s been a positive experience,” Northampton Mayor David Narcewicz told BusinessWest. “We’re starting to see some of the economic benefits in terms of taxes, and I know our local businesses have been creative in embracing the new industry. Businesses back in November were offering specials to people who came into town and showed a receipt for shopping at NETA. If anything, I think the business community has been receptive.”

He noted that Northampton’s voters were among the most enthusiastic in their support of legal cannabis, both during the 2012 statewide vote to legalize medicinal marijuana, then for adult use in 2016. As mayor, he said, his approach has been to respect the community’s voice.

“So we’ve been very open and proactive; we created zoning regulations that essentially treat this new industry like any other business, and we did not impose caps on the number of retailers like many communities did.

“We also had the experience of having one of the first medical dispensaries in the state,” he added, speaking of NETA’s original business plan. “We had a track record of seeing how they had operated and had the chance to see what the potential impacts were. They’ve been a good member of our business community; they worked with us to make sure their opening went smoothly, and have been working with surrounding businesses to make sure there’s no disruption.”

Stories like this are why, despite the slow rollout of pot shops so far — and state tax revenue well under early projections — proponents are confident that the trends toward greater public acceptance of this industry, and tax revenues to match, will soon accelerate.

“As an industry, we’ve done a good job to ensure that things are done correctly, and the state’s done a good job putting measures in place to help ensure it is a safe industry and people are getting a safe product and it’s dispensed in a safe way,” Zatyrka said. “The state did a lot of things right, which is why we’re seeing a successful rollout. I know some people wish it moved quicker, but I understand why it didn’t. There are thousands of applications, a lot of inspections, a lot to oversee. It takes time. It’s a new industry for everybody.”

Green Growth

As part of its new marijuana laws, Massachusetts imposes a 17% tax — a 6.25% sales tax plus a 10.75% excise tax — on cannabis businesses, while cites and towns take another 3%, plus whatever else they may choose to impose as part of their host-community agreements.

In Northampton’s case, that’s an additional 3%, called a ‘community-impact fee.’ The city received two checks recently: $449,825 from the Department of Revenue representing the 3% tax rate for recreational marijuana sales in November, December, and January, and $287,506 from NETA itself, reflecting the 3% community-impact fee on recreational sales for December and January.

“When we held our public meetings, we had a few folks who thought we were going to destroy the world and everything would come crashing down once we opened. But the opposite has been true.”

Other towns are seeing their coffers benefit as well. Theory Wellness opened in Great Barrington in December, paying $90,000 in taxes to the town in its first month.

“They opened to long lines, which should level off as they get more competition,” Ed Abrahams, vice chair of the town’s Select Board, told BusinessWest last month. “This is new for all of us, but so far, there have been logistically few problems.”

Southern Berkshire County communities that embrace the cannabis trade are sure to benefit from the continued illegality of the drug in both Connecticut and New York, though leaders in both states have been talking about whether that should remain the case. Brandon Pollock, CEO of Theory Wellness, told the New York Post last week that about 15,000 New Yorkers have made purchases there since its Jan. 11 opening.

“I’d say we get dozens, if not hundreds, a day from the greater New York City area,” he noted. “We get people coming up in Zipcars, people carpooling, people who say they hardly ever drive at all — but will drive to purchase cannabis.”

That sort of consumer response is intriguing to towns that see this industry as a new economic driver.

“Some cities have been great to work with, some a little more difficult to work with,” Zatyrka said. “Easthampton is very progressive city, and early on it was very obvious they wanted us here.”

That’s important from a competition perspective, he said, because the application process is already time-consuming, and communities that want to make it even more difficult to move through permitting and craft a host-community agreement can tie up a project for years, while other shops in more amenable towns are opening and picking up crucial market share and customer loyalty.

“Easthampton was great,” he went on. “Everyone wants to find a solution instead of putting up roadblocks. They want us to be successful, to get their name on the map, and they saw the benefits early on.”

He’s seeing a gradual shift, too, in where proposed projects will be located, noting that, when INSA started cultivating marijuana for medical use, most such outfits were setting up in old mill buildings or industrial parks. “Now it’s not so restrictive — people can open up on Main Street, and wind up in locations that are made for retail use, for people to come visit.”

That’s certainly the goal in Northampton, which is looking at myriad applications from cannabis manufacturers, cultivators, testing labs, and retail establishments, Narcewicz noted. It welcomes them because it sees value in how NETA, which isn’t even located downtown, has impacted business.

“NETA has created good-paying jobs in the community, and it’s an important way to expand our tax base and grow our local economy,” he said. “We have a local economy focused on retail, dining, entertainment, and a very vibrant cultural economy. And I think this complements it.”

There have been traffic and parking challenges, he added, “but if you talk to most retailers, downtowns having too many visitors is never a bad thing. We’re kind of equipped to handle a lot of visitors. And NETA has been very responsive in terms of renting additional parking from neighboring businesses, which helps them as well by providing an income stream. So far, it’s been a very positive experience, and there’s no reason to believe that’s going to change.”

Making a Name

BRIGADE has certainly benefited from this new industry. The Hadley-based brand-services company has worked with INSA extensively, including the creation of the designs for all its products and marketing.

“Everyone calls cannabis the wild west, and it is from a branding and design perspective, too,” said Kirsten Modestow, BRIGADE’s owner and executive creative director. “The rules for a whole category are being written overnight. That’s challenging, but it’s also some of the most exciting stuff we’ve ever worked on.”

With some cannabis businesses coming out with 100 or more products, it presents a unique branding challenge, she added, because the goal is not only to create a memorable look, but to help customers, many of whom have little experience with marijuana, navigate the products.

“One of the upsides of this industry is the impact it’s having on our communities, and it’s providing a lot of new opportunities and jobs,” she said. “It’s providing a lot of work for people, even tapping into farmers and other people who have services to offer and know what they’re doing.”

The education aspect Modestow touched on is one that continues in the store, Zatyrka said. The sales associates — he prefers that title to the flip industry term ‘budtenders’ — are the same ones who have worked with medical patients for a long time, and they have the training to dig deep into the science behind the products, so they can effectively explain them.

“We understand it’s a product that needs to be consumed safely, and we take that seriously,” he said. “We don’t want to be liable for someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing and eats an entire chocolate bar and has to go to the ER. We do all in our power to prevent that from happening.”

The coming months and years will see more education (and more tax revenues) as pot-shop openings pick up the pace — including Evergreen Strategies, LLC, which recently inked a host-community agreement with Belchertown to bring a facility to that town as early as this fall.

The Boston Globe recently cited industry analysts who say Massachusetts has a much slower local approval process and a more complex system to navigate than other states, and the state Cannabis Control Commission has placed a premium on an adult-use regulatory structure that supports public health and public safety. The measured pace ensures that stores pass inspections, sell lab-tested products, hire vetted workers, and track their products.

“It’s a growing industry, and will continue to grow,” said Zatyrka, who plans to open an adult-use dispensary in Springfield and has a cultivating and manufacturing license in Pennsylvania as well. Meanwhile, INSA is doubling its cultivation — located directly above the Easthampton store — and is looking to triple it in the future. “We’re still a few years out before we can meet the demands of the state. So it’s going to be hard work until then to keep up our supply with demand.”

The work is rewarding, though, especially for someone who treated his chronic pain for more than 15 years with oxycontin, oxycodone, morphine, and methadone, and suffered side effects that drastically outweighed the benefits.

“Thanks to cannabis, I was able to stop taking them,” Zatyrka said. “Cannabis helped with the withdrawals, and now I only use cannabis to treat my chronic pain, and it works 100 times better than all the opioids. I know firsthand the power of cannabis versus painkillers.”

He tells that story not because it’s unique, but because it’s representative of many people he comes across, with stories about how cannabis has helped them with seizures, Crohn’s disease, arthritis, and multiple sclerosis. And if legal adult use is helping to tear down the last bits of stigma around cannabis, he’s all for it.

“It’s incredibly gratifying to hear the stories and how grateful people are,” he said. “They’re able to get benefits from cannabis, and don’t have to hide it like they once did.”

Joseph Bednar can be reached at [email protected]m

Incorporations

The following business incorporations were recorded in Hampden, Hampshire, and Franklin counties and are the latest available. They are listed by community.

ADAMS

Quick & Easy Waste Disposal Inc., 69 Melrose St., Adams, MA 01220. Donna M. Macdonald, same. Waste disposal.

BELCHERTOWN

STS Homes Inc., 210 Bardwell St., Belchertown, MA 01007. Heather A. Twining, same. Contractor.

EAST LONGMEADOW

S L Beauty Inc., 30 Shaker Road, East Longmeadow, MA 01028. Nga Thihang Nguyen, 123 Enfield St., Indian Orchard, MA 01151. Personal care service.

GRANBY

RZ Granby Convenience Inc., 30 West State St., Granby, MA 01033. Radwan Zaitoun, 3 Silver St., Springfield, MA 01107. Convenience store/gas station.

LONGMEADOW

Rockefeller Systems Incorporated, 266 Pinewood Dr., Longmeadow, MA 01106. Paul W Gorman, same. Electronics, software, control systems.

MONSON

Streamliners Inc., 8 Waid Road, Monson, MA 01057. Joseph R. Hamm, same. Manufacture, distribution and sales of products.

NORTHAMPTON

Team Finch Inc., 22 Ford Crossing, Northampton, MA 01060. Jennifer S. Bryan, same. Educational consulting.

PITTSFIELD

Saba Petroleum Reality Inc., 1030 South St., Pittsfield, MA 01201. Sallam Mokbil, 535 Elm St., Monroe, CT 06468. Real estate.

SPRINGFIELD

Star Wireless Inc., 895 Carew St., Springfield, MA 01104. Abdul Ghani, 198 Stafford St., Worcester, MA 01603. Cell phone services.

WENDELL

Roxdot Property Management Inc., 82 Wendell Ave., Ste 100, Pittsfield, MA 01201. Colin Kelly-Rand, 1189 Boylston St., Newton , MA 02464. Real estate management.

WESTFIELD

R & R Tours Inc., 38 M St., Westfield, MA01085. Randolph McBride, same. Passenger transportation.

Shafiq Mizan Rahman & Augustine Inc., 69 Franklin St., Westfield, MA 01085. Akm Mizanur Rahman Bangladesh, 616 Broadway Unit 6, Revere, MA 02151. Accounting, payroll, tax, and consulting services.

Court Dockets

The following is a compilation of recent lawsuits involving area businesses and organizations. These are strictly allegations that have yet to be proven in a court of law. Readers are advised to contact the parties listed, or the court, for more information concerning the individual claims.

HAMPDEN DISTRICT COURT
William J. Murray v. Tree Corp.
Allegation: Trespass and negligence causing property damage (destruction of healthy, mature tree): $3,000
Filed: 9/4/18

HAMPDEN SUPERIOR COURT
Norma I. De La Cruz v. The Stop & Shop Supermarket Co., LLC d/b/a Super Stop and Shop
Allegation: Negligence; slip and fall causing personal injury: $250,000
Filed: 9/6/18

Adrienne Levine v. Baystate Health Inc.
Allegation: Negligence; slip and fall causing personal injury: $125,745
Filed: 9/6/18

Jean Lord v. Eastern States Exposition Inc.; H.C. Sims Farms Kentucky, LLC; Jeffrey Kaufman; and Kaye Kaufman
Allegation: Negligence causing personal injury: $52,312.73
Filed: 9/7/18

Louis R. Redfern v. Owen Zaret, PA-C; Khaled Instrum, MD; and Julian Hernandez, DO
Allegation: Medical malpractice: $1,500,000
Filed: 9/7/18

Aileen Velazquez v. Pioneer Valley Transit Authority, Springfield Area Transit Co., First Transit Inc., Joewarren Marrero, and Marilyn Santos
Allegation: Negligence; auto accident causing personal injury: $7,149.02
Filed: 9/7/18

Mary Smith v. James Buratti d/b/a Heritage Motor Home Park
Allegation: Negligence; slip and fall causing personal injury: $17,170.29
Filed: 9/10/18

Springfield College v. Amerex Brokers, LLC
Allegation: Breach of contract, breach of warranty, negligence, intentional and negligent misrepresentation: $225,000+
Filed: 9/11/18

Local 455, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, AFL-CIO v. Western Massachusetts Electric Co. d/b/a Eversource Energy
Allegation: Violation of Massachusetts labor laws
Filed: 9/12/18

Michael Salvatore v. Century Drywall Inc. and Aecom Tishman
Allegation: Negligence causing personal injury and property damage: $89,000
Filed: 9/17/18

Incorporations

The following business incorporations were recorded in Hampden, Hampshire and Franklin counties and are the latest available. They are listed by community.

AGAWAM

Odessa Transportation Inc., 458 Main St., Agawam, MA 01001. Pavlo Dukach, same. Transportation.

Quality Auto Trans Inc., 61 Center St. Agawam, MA 01001. Nelya Hrytskevich, same. Transportation.

PALMER

Nike Sushi Inc., 1180 Thorndike St., Palmer, MA 01069. Hong Fei Huang, 34-25 Linden Place, Flushing, N.Y. 11354. Sushi bar inside the supermarket.

PITTSFIELD

Holyoke Retirement Community Inc., 75 North St., Suite 210, Pittsfield, MA 01201. William C. Jones, 16 Charisma St., Pittsfield, MA 01201. To operate and maintain housing complex providing independent and assisted living units for elderly.

Nerd Cavalry Inc., 23 Adams St., Ludlow, MA 01056. Michael R. Grogan, same. Information technology consulting.

SHEFFIELD

Peter Jackson Hospitality Inc., 375 Hewins St., Sheffield, MA 01257. Adrian D’ambrosi, 20 Salem Road, Pound Ridge, MA 10576. Bed & breakfast.

SPRINGFIELD

Mr. Dunn Enterprises Inc., 1655 Boston Road, Springfield, MA 01129. Aaron Dunn, 1210 Main St., Warren, MA 01083. Management of business entities.

Nolan Wells Inc., 26 Ryan Circle, Springfield, MA 01118. Nolan Wells, same. Retail clothing.

Ofcounsels Corporation, 35 Riverview Terrace, Springfield, MA 01108. Anthony Ivan Wilson, same. Ofcounsels is a social network for attorneys.

PIWC — Springfield Assembly, 187 Stuart St., Springfield, MA 01119. Karl O. Badu, 19 Stephanie Circle, Springfield, MA 01129. Christian church.

WESTFIELD

Murphy Real Estate & Construction Inc., 45 North Westfield St., Feeding Hills, MA 01030. Michael Murphy, same. Residential real estate.

WILBRAHAM

Paramount Construction ABC Inc., 35 Springfield St., Wilbraham, MA 01095. John Pappanikou, same. Remodel existing residential properties.

Court Dockets

The following is a compilation of recent lawsuits involving area businesses and organizations. These are strictly allegations that have yet to be proven in a court of law. Readers are advised to contact the parties listed, or the court, for more information concerning the individual claims.

HAMPDEN DISTRICT COURT
Astro Automotive Inc. v. Luzi’s Auto Body Inc.
Allegation: Money owed for goods sold and delivered: $4,139.14
Filed: 7/17/18

Beacon Sales Acquisition Inc. d/b/a Beacon Sales Co. v. Matthew R. Will and Tina Bowles d/b/a 5-Star Discount Roofing
Allegation: Money owed for goods sold and delivered: $18,682.12
Filed: 7/23/18

Justin Koch v. Taylor Kibbe and Thomas Wilson Enterprises Inc.
Allegation: Negligence causing personal injury: $15,248.97
Filed: 7/27/18

New England Industrial Uniform Rental Service Inc. v. Bertera Motors of West Springfield Inc., Bertera Nissan Inc., Bertera Chevrolet Inc., Bertera Automotive Corp., and Bertera Subaru Inc.
Allegation: Breach of uniform rental contracts: $14,055.24
Filed: 7/31/18

Norman Spencer v. Jose A. Baez and Fedex Freight Inc.
Allegation: Motor-vehicle neglience causing personal injury: $17,298.92
Filed: 8/1/18

Glenda Morales v. Walmart Stores East, LP
Allegation: Negligence; slip and fall causing personal injury: $4,007.28
Filed: 8/2/18

HAMPDEN SUPERIOR COURT
Deli Williams v. Springfield Water and Sewer Commission
Allegation: Motor-vehicle negligence: $4,553
Filed: 7/10/18

William J. Cerri Sr. v. TigerPress and Shafii’s Inc.
Allegation: Negligence; slip and fall causing personal injury: $366,446.87
Filed: 7/13/18

Andrew Bergeron v. R.M. Blerman, LLC; Michael Werman; and Richard Blaser
Allegation: Negligence causing personal injury: $804,493.30
Filed: 7/16/18

Karen Feliciano v. Matthew Brackman, M.D., and Pioneer Valley Surgical Associates, P.C.
Allegation: Medical malpractice: $531,641.59
Filed: 7/19/18

Nitza Ramos v. Picknelly Family, LP
Allegation: Negligence; slip and fall outside Monarch Place causing personal injury: $9,879.69
Filed: 7/19/18

Angela Powell v. Marino Realty Inc., Marino Realty Corp., and Montagna Enterprises Inc. d/b/a JJ’s Soft Serve and More
Allegation: Negligence; slip and fall causing personal injury: $400,000
Filed: 7/20/18

Joseph Lepianka v. Brinker International Payroll Co., LP d/b/a Chili’s Grill & Bar and Kelli Valade
Allegation: Non-payment of minimum fair wages, non-payment of wages: $25,000
Filed: 7/25/18

Maureen Lyon v. Dollar Tree Inc.
Allegation: Negligence; shelving bracket fell over, causing personal injury: $151,380.90
Filed: 7/30/18

Kori M. Johanson v. Stanley J. Swierzewski d/b/a La Dermique
Allegation: Breach of contract, fraud, and unjust enrichment: $112,640
Filed: 8/1/18

Beryl Ohlson v. City of Holyoke
Allegation: Negligence; Holyoke Gas & Electric shut off power without notice in plaintiff’s residence to conduct maintenance, and plaintiff fell down stairs in the dark, causing personal injury: $250,000
Filed: 8/1/18

Brandon Vreeland as personal representative of the estate of Sherry L. Vreeland v. Tashanna K. Myers, M.D. and Ziad Kutayli, M.D.
Allegation: Medical malpractice, wrongful death: $2,000,000
Filed: 8/3/18

Shanard L. Green Sr. v. Coca-Cola Refreshments
Allegation: Employment discrimination: $31,000
Filed: 8/6/18

Incorporations

The following business incorporations were recorded in Hampden, Hampshire, and Franklin counties and are the latest available. They are listed by community.

BRIMFIELD

BT & Sons Towing & Recovery Inc., 8 Oakwood Road, Brimfield, MA 01010. Robert A. Wemyss, same. Towing.

DALTON

Andarah Inc. 165 High St., Dalton, MA 01226. Andrew G. Perenick, same. Rental and sale of boats, watercraft and equipment.

EAST LONGMEADOW

Coltey Enterprise Inc., 41 Millbrook Dr., East Longmeadow, MA 01028. Leo P. Coltey, same. Restaurant.

EASTHAMPTON

Cristina P. Carrier, Pc, 95 Holyoke St., Easthampton, MA 01027. Cristina P. Carrier, same. Professional legal services.

HOLYOKE

Betty Minimart & Restaurant Inc., 345 High St., Holyoke MA, 01040. Eritania Diaz, 1850 Northampton St., Apt. 231, Holyoke, MA 01040. Grocery store and restaurant.

LUDLOW

BP Home Improvement Inc., 89 Cislek Dr., Ludlow, Ma 01056. Norbert A. Pereira, same. Residential and commercial construction services.

NORTHAMPTON

Arkham Logistics Co., 123 Moser St., Northampton, MA 01060. Gino Davis, same. Package pickup and delivery.

WESTFIELD

API Construction Inc., 100 Meadow St., Westfield, MA 01085. Aleksandr Popov, same. Dwelling construction.

WESTHAMPTON

Audiwerks Division Inc., 9 Edward Road, Westhampton, MA 01027. Roland Madzunovic, same. Auto repair.

SHEFFIELD

Black Prince Hospitality Inc., 375 Hewins St., Sheffield, MA 01257. Adrian D’Ambrosi, 20 Salem Road, Pound Ridge, NY 10576. Bed and breakfast.

SOUTHWICK

Chiu Chu Inc., 20 Laurel Ridge Road, Southwick, MA 01077. Cheuk Chiu Chu, same. Restaurant.