Massachusetts Supreme Court Holds Public Housing Development Property Owner Liable for Damages from Injury

A resident of a public housing development in Framingham was seriously injured after slipping and falling on the stairs. He filed a claim for damages against the Framingham Housing Authority, Musterfield Place, LLC, (a “controlled affiliate” of the housing authority), and the managing agent of the property. The owner and managing agent of the property filed a partial summary judgment motion that would classify them as public employers. Under the Tort Claims Act, public employers are only liable for damages up to $100,000. The court denied this motion and instead classified the manager and owners of the building as “controlled affiliates.” As “controlled affiliates” they are not public employers and thus do not get the benefit of the damage cap. If you are injured at your apartment building or at another location, you should contact a skilled Massachusetts premises liability attorney as soon as possible to help represent you. This decision allows injured people the ability to collect the full damages they are due for their injuries.

Facts of the Case

The building that Plaintiff lived in had been identified as being in need of rehabilitation in 2009. As the housing authority did not have the money themselves to fix the building, private investors bought in to the property partially to get the tax credits associated with the investment. In order to help raise money for low income housing, the housing authority allows these investors to buy and sell the tax credits that they have no use for, as they are not subject to federal taxes. These investors are then deemed “controlled affiliates.” A controlled affiliate is an entity that owns and manages public housing. In return for the tax credits, the affiliates must keep the property affordable for low and moderate income renters for 15 years.

A resident of this building was walking on the stairs when he slipped, fell, and was seriously injured. He brought a claim against the housing authority, building owner, and manager for failure to keep the property reasonably safe.

Massachusetts Tort Claims Act

The Massachusetts Tort Claims Act allows public employers to cap their payment of damages for negligent acts or omissions (as is alleged here) at $100,000. Thus, being classified as a public employer can help to reduce potential damages, as otherwise there is no limit to the damages that negligent actors must pay. (Obviously the burden is on the plaintiff to prove the damages.)

That is why the owner and manager of the building moved to be recognized by the court as public employers: so that they could possibly be shielded from some of the liability. However, the court held that as controlled affiliates. the property owner and manager are not public employers. The court explained that just because they have some connection to the public housing authority does not make the owner and manager public employers.

Contact an Experienced Massachusetts Premises Liability Lawyer Today

If you have been injured in an accident, you may be able to hold the owner of the property accountable. The skilled premises liability attorneys at Neumann Law Group serve Boston, Canton, Worcester, and other areas in Massachusetts. Call them today at (617) 918-7790 or use the contact form on this website to schedule your free consultation!

See Related Posts:

State Supreme Court Holds Firefighter’s Rule Should Not Extend Beyond Premises Liability

State Appeals Court Upholds Ruling for Plaintiff Following Hospital Slip and Fall

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