Insurer Not Obligated to Play Two Ways

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by Anthony L. Leccese

In a recent case of first impression, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) answered certified questions presented by the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. The questions focused on whether an insurer’s duty to defend (play defense) requires the insurer to pay for legal counsel to prosecute an affirmative counterclaim (play offense) on behalf of the insured. A divided SJC ruled that the insurer does not have to prosecute the insured’s counterclaim. The case is Mount Vernon Fire Insurance Company v. Visionaid, No. SJC-12142 (June 22, 2017).

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IDEA Requires Schools to Offer an “Individualized Education Program” Reasonably Calculated to Enable a Child to Make Appropriate Progress

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by Jocelyn Campbell

This case involved a young boy diagnosed with autism who had been receiving services from an IEP from preschool through 4th grade in Douglas County School District in Colorado. The parents made the unilateral decision to enroll their son in a private school after they disagreed with the school district’s proposed IEP for 5th grade. They argued that the plan proposed goals that were too similar to the goals from the earlier years. The student and his parents filed a lawsuit in Federal District Court in Colorado stating the student was denied a free and appropriate education (FAPE) and seeking reimbursement of his tuition. The parents further argued that their son had made academic, social and emotional progress at the private school. The Federal District Court ruled the IEP proposed by Douglas County School District was substantively adequate, further clarifying the educational benefit the student was receiving from Douglas County School District was “merely more than de minimus.”

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Exhausting Administrative Remedies Under IDEA Not Required in School Discrimination Cases Alleging Disability

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by Jocelyn Campbell

This case centered on a parents’ request to have their daughter’s Goldendoodle, a service dog, accompany their daughter, who suffers from cerebral palsy, to kindergarten. The school district denied the parents request and the parents filed a lawsuit in U.S. Federal District Court in Michigan under the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act. The district court dismissed the case, pointing to federal law that requires families seeking relief that is also available under the Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) to avail themselves of all possible administrative remedies under IDEA before filing a civil lawsuit. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit affirmed the district court’s decision.

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Potential Legal Issues for College Students: Traps for the Unwary

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By James L. Rudolph

Whether your child is a senior in high school about to start college next fall or presently a college student, at some time in the next few years, there may be legal issues affecting you and them. This article addresses the following potential issues that may concern parents and students: alcohol and drugs, fake IDs, credit cards, pranks, social networking and defamation, gambling, cheating/plagiarism, date rape, copyright infringement, landlord/tenant issues, and harassment and discrimination. Additionally, it gives general advice on how to respond to potential legal issues. (more…)

Instant Replay: Dallas Cowboys Case Raises Issues Similar to “Deflategate”

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by William Bendetson

Last year in a much-publicized case around New England and the United States, Patriots star quarterback Tom Brady received a four-game suspension from the NFL pursuant to Article 46 of the NFL collective bargaining agreement for “engaging in conduct detrimental to the integrity of the public confidence in the game of professional football.”

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