Judy C. LYNCH & others
Keith D. CRAWFORD & others (and a consolidated case  ).
September 5, 2019
N.E.3d 1039] Practice, Civil, Interlocutory appeal,
Summary judgment. Massachusetts Wage Act .
Immunity from Suit . Federal Preemption .
Statute, Federal preemption.
ACTION commenced in the Superior Court Department on October
ACTION commenced in the Superior Court Department on February
consolidation, the case was heard by Paul D. Wilson,
J., on motions for summary judgment, and a motion for
reconsideration was considered by him.
review by the Appeals Court, the Supreme Judicial Court
granted leave to obtain further appellate review.
G. Clark (Christopher E. Novak also present), Boston, for
Keith D. Crawford.
E. Goloboy (Richard B. Reiling also present), Boston, for the
C. Green, Assistant Attorney General, for the Attorney
General, amicus curiae, submitted a brief.
Barter, Boston, for Professional Liability Foundation, Ltd.,
amicus curiae, submitted a brief.
Gants, C.J., Lenk, Gaziano, Lowy, Cypher, & Kafker, JJ.
N.E.3d 1040] The plaintiffs, former employees of the
now-dissolved Roxbury Comprehensive Community Health Center,
Inc. (RoxComp), were not paid for the work they performed
during the weeks before RoxComp shut its doors. Under the
Wage Act, G. L. c. 149, § 148, discharged employees are
entitled to be paid all wages due them on the day of their
discharge by their "employers." The "president
and treasurer of a corporation and any officers or agents
having the management of such corporation" are
"deemed to be the employers of the employees of the
corporation within the meaning of [the statute]."
Id. The plaintiffs brought consolidated civil
actions against the defendant Keith D. Crawford alleging
that, as RoxComps president, he was among the
"employers" who had violated the Wage Act by
failing to pay them the wages they were due. Crawford
moved for summary judgment, claiming that he was not
RoxComps president but solely the chair of its board of
directors and that, even if he were its president, he served
without compensation and therefore was immune from suit under
the Federal Volunteer Protection Act (VPA), 42 U.S.C. §
14503(a) (2012), and the State charitable immunity statute,
G. L. c. 231, § 85W (§ 85W).
Superior Court judge denied Crawfords motion, concluding
that there were disputes of material fact as to whether
Crawford served as president and whether his conduct placed
him outside the scope of the qualified immunity provided to
volunteers under the VPA and § 85W. Crawford filed a petition
pursuant to G. L. c. 231, § 118, first par., seeking leave
from a single justice of the Appeals Court to pursue an
interlocutory appeal from the denial of his motion for
summary judgment. A single justice denied leave to appeal
under § 118 and declared that, if Crawford contended that he
had a right to interlocutory appeal under the doctrine
of present execution, the way to assert that right was to
file a notice of appeal in the Superior Court. Crawford then
timely filed such a notice.
attempt to harmonize two of our opinions applying the
doctrine of present execution -- Maxwell v. AIG Domestic
Claims, Inc., 460 Mass. 91, 950 N.E.2d 40 (2011), and
Marcus v. Newton, 462 Mass. 148, 967 N.E.2d 140
(2012) -- the Appeals Court concluded that "where a
statute designed to encourage private conduct speaks in terms
of providing immunity only from liability, and that statute
places no affirmative obligations on the protected party to
take the actions being immunized, courts are not, without
more, to infer an intent to provide immunity from suit."
Lynch v. Roxbury Comprehensive Community Health Ctr.,
Inc., 94 Mass.App.Ct. 528, 535, 114 N.E.3d 1021 (2018).
Consequently, the Appeals Court held that the doctrine of
present execution did not entitle Crawford to an
interlocutory appeal from the denial of his motion for
summary judgment based on his claimed charitable [135 N.E.3d
1041] immunity under Federal or State law because (1)
"[t]he language of [§ 85W and the VPA] speaks in terms
of immunity only from liability, not from suit"; (2) §
85W "imposes no obligations on people who serve as
volunteer board members of nonprofit institutions"; and
(3) the VPA does not command "State interlocutory
appellate review when such an appeal otherwise would not be
available." Id. at 535, 537-538, 114 N.E.3d
1021. We granted Crawfords motion for further appellate
that, where a statute provides qualified immunity, as do the
VPA and § 85W, we attempt to discern whether the Legislature
intended immunity from suit, rather than simply immunity from
liability. That the statute speaks only of liability and does
not specifically spell out immunity from suit is not
dispositive. Rather, we look to the language of the entire
statute and, where there is ambiguity, apply our traditional
standards of statutory interpretation to determine whether
the Legislature intended to grant immunity from suit. Having
done so here, we conclude that Congress intended the VPA to
provide qualified immunity from suit for officers in
nonprofit organizations who receive no compensation and that
§ 85W may only expand the scope of that immunity, not
diminish it. Because our doctrine of present execution
recognizes that interlocutory appeal is necessary to
vindicate the rights of one who is ordered to proceed to
trial despite being immune from suit, we conclude that
Crawford, as a volunteer for a nonprofit organization, is
entitled to interlocutory review of the denial of his motion
for summary judgment.
the merits of that summary judgment motion, we affirm the
judges denial of the motion, finding that there are genuine
issues of material fact as to whether Crawford was, in fact,
the president of RoxComp and as to whether he engaged in
"any acts or omissions intentionally designed to