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Flaherty v. Sheriff of Suffolk County

Appeals Court of Massachusetts, Suffolk

March 16, 2015

George H. Flaherty
v.
Sheriff of Suffolk County & another. [1]

Argued December 9, 2014

Civil action commenced in the Superior Court Department on November 15, 2010.

The case was heard by Linda E. Giles, J., on motions for summary judgment.

Christopher G. Perillo for the defendants.

Arinda R. Brooks for the plaintiff.

Present: Cohen, Fecteau, & Massing, JJ.

OPINION

[26 N.E.3d 1125] Massing, J.

The defendants, the sheriff of Suffolk County and the Suffolk County sheriff's department (collectively referred to as the Commonwealth[2]), appeal from a judgment of the Superior Court finding the Commonwealth liable for assault pay owed to the plaintiff, George H. Flaherty, under G. L. c. 126, § 18A (sometimes referred to [26 N.E.3d 1126] as the statute). The Commonwealth contends (1) that Flaherty's entitlement to assault pay terminated when he reached the mandatory age of retirement for correction officers and became entitled to superannuation retirement benefits and (2)

Page 158

that his action is barred by the statute of limitations. The Superior Court judge rejected both contentions. We agree with the judge's conclusion that Flaherty was entitled to assault pay as long as he was receiving workers' compensation benefits, and that his action is not time barred, but we agree with the Commonwealth that the applicable statute of limitations is G. L. c. 260, § 3A, precluding Flaherty from recovering payments that became due more than three years before he filed his complaint.

Background.

While working as a Suffolk County correction officer in January, 2006, Flaherty was injured as a result of prisoner violence. An administrative judge of the Department of Industrial Accidents found that he was partially disabled and awarded him workers' compensation benefits beginning January 4, 2006. He continued to receive workers' compensation benefits until September 1, 2010, the effective date of a lump sum settlement agreement that ended his entitlement to those benefits. On November 15, 2010, Flaherty filed an action in the Superior Court claiming that the Commonwealth was required by G. L. c. 126, § 18A, to compensate him with assault pay during the period he received workers' compensation benefits. The Commonwealth did not dispute that Flaherty was entitled to assault pay but argued that his superannuation retirement on September 30, 2006, after he reached the age of sixty-five, terminated this entitlement, and that the three-year statute of limitations for actions against the Commonwealth barred him from recovering for the period he was owed assault pay. The parties filed cross motions for summary judgment, and the judge, rejecting the Commonwealth's arguments, denied the Commonwealth's motion and allowed Flaherty's.[3]

Entitlement to assault pay.

The applicable statute provides ...


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