One great source for a legal blog post is a recently decided court case in your law firm’s practice area. Not only does covering the case show that you’re up-to-date on the developments in your field; it also provides a great way to effortlessly and organically drop internal links to the practice area and landing pages that you want to promote.
Here’s what that can look like, for a hypothetical business litigation lawyer in Massachusetts.
Appeals Court Allows 93A Complaint for Medical Records to Proceed
Unfair trade practices are notoriously, and deliberately, vague. After all, if the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Law explicitly laid out what was “unfair or deceptive,” unethical businessmen would come up with new ways to deceive customers and make money that were not expressly illegal.
However, that does not help customers and the ethical business owners among us, who often have to guess what constitutes a trade practice that is unfair.
A new decision by the Massachusetts Appeals Court is a great example of the confusion that this can create.
93A Complaint for Overcharging for Access to Medical Records
In Beauchesne v. New England Neurological Associates, the lawyer for a car accident victim called the hospital to obtain certified copies of the victim’s medical records. The hospital charged $45 for “retrieval and copying,” claiming that this fee was allowed by G. L. c. 233, § 79G, the law that deals with using medical records as evidence in court cases.
However, there is another law, G. L. c. 111, § 70, that lays out what fees a hospital can charge for copies of medical records. Under the formula in that statute, the hospital had overcharged the car accident victim’s lawyer by $18.19. The hospital claimed that this statute did not apply because these had been certified copies, not just regular ones.
The victim sued the hospital and tried to form a class action, claiming breach of contract and the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing. He also claimed that the overcharge was a violation of the Consumer Protection Law and filed a Chapter 93A complaint.
Appeals Court Lets 93A Complaint Proceed
While the trial court dismissed the lawsuit, the Massachusetts Appeals Court disagreed and said that the 93A complaint could go on.
The Massachusetts Consumer Protection Law, at G. L. c. 93A, § 2, prohibits “unfair methods of competition and unfair or deceptive acts or practices,” and lets the Attorney General create regulations that define what that means. One of those regulations, 940 Code Mass. Regs. § 3.16(3), says that, with some limitations, a business practice is “unfair” if it “fails to comply with existing statutes, rules, regulations or laws.”
After deciding that G. L. c. 111, § 70 applied to certified copies of medical records, in addition to just regular copies, the court ruled that the hospital charged too much. This violated the statute, which triggered the regulation, which supported the car accident victim’s 93A complaint.
Massachusetts Attorneys Who Deal With Unfair Trade Practices
If you look at the case from the eyes of the hospital, you can see how the unfair trade practices law in Massachusetts can be tricky: They probably thought that they were complying with the law, or at least that they were not breaking it by charging a flat fee for medical records that were going to be used in litigation.
Instead, they will now be subjected to a class action lawsuit for doing so.
[Now you insert your call-to-action, complete with the contact information for your law firm]
Of course, the value of appellate or supreme court cases for your legal blog depends your firm’s practice areas: For criminal defense lawyers, these cases provide a near constant source of material. For personal injury lawyers, less so.
Regardless, covering these cases for your legal blog dovetails nicely with your regular work as a lawyer – you’re probably reading and digesting these cases, already. Turning them into legal blog posts gives you an extra incentive to stay on top of them.