Thursday, May 30, 2024

Even Whitey Bulger's crimes end in insurance coverage disputes: Town of Braintree sues multiple insurance carriers for coverage for wrongful conviction claim by man framed by Bulger


On May 24, 2024, the Town of Braintree filed a lawsuit in Suffolk County Superior Court against fifteen insurers, as well as insurance companies Does 1 though 50, for refusing to defend and indemnify it in a massive wrongful conviction lawsuit.

The Town alleges that the insurers have each either refused to acknowledge or outright denied their contractual obligations under liability policies issued to the Town over the course of nearly four decades for claims that the Town is liable for the wrongful conviction and 36 year imprisonment of Frederick Weichel.  Weichel has sued the Town in federal court and has demanded tens of millions of dollars in damages. 

The complaint summarizes Weichel's allegations:  In 1980, Robert LaMonica was murdered in the Town.  The Town police investigated.  A composite sketch from details provided by a witness bore a likeness to a convicted murderer named Rocco Balliro, who had failed to return from a prison furlough.  A police report, the "Leahy report," containing this information was stored by the town in a "Basement Archive" and was not turned over to the prosecutors, Mr. Weichel, or Mr. Weichel's defense counsel.  

Mr. Weichel was convicted of the murder in 1981.  He alleges that if the Leahy report had been produced he would not have been convicted.  He was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole, and spent over 36 years in prison.  In 2017, after he obtained the Leahy Report and moved for a new trial, he was released and all charges against him were dropped.  In a 2018 lawsuit against the Commonwealth, a jury found that Mr. Weichel had been innocent of the murder.  

Mr. Weichel sued the Town, alleging that it had a continuing obligation to disclose disculpatory evidence throughout the entire period between 1980 and 2017, and that it was deliberately indifferent to, and breached, that duty throughout his incarceration.  He alleges that he suffered bodily injury and personal injury during each year of his incarceration.  

During these years the defendant insurers had issued law enforcement, general liability, and umbrella policies to the Town.  Most of the insurers have refused to defend and indemnify the Town.  According to the complaint, some of the insurers have asserted that the events that led to Mr. Weichel's injury took place in 1980, and therefore the only applicable insurance coverage would be a 1980 policy.

The Town asserts that the Weichel lawsuit is a "paradigmatic example of the claims that the Town's liability policies were supposed to protect it against: a suit seeking tens of millions of dollars in damages, brought against the Town by an individual who accuses the Town, its police officers, and its other managers and officials, of being responsible for his bodily injury and personal injury foreseeably resulting from him having spent thirty-six years in prison for a crime he did not commit."  

It's interesting that the complaint (as well as Weichel's complaint in federal court) does not mention his claim that he was framed by Whitey Bulger.   

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Insurance Claims for Damage to Buildings in Massachusetts (my new brochure)


  • The property damage occurs.

  • The insured submits the claim to the insurer.

  • The insured chooses and retains a public adjuster.

The role of the public adjuster:
to determine all applicable coverages under the insurance policy, prepare estimates, and advocate with the insurer over the amount of loss.

The public adjuster is paid by contingency fee, typically ten percent of the amount recovered.

  • The insurer may raise defenses to coverage.  If so, the insured should hire an attorney immediately.  The public adjuster is not an attorney and cannot argue with the insurer about coverage issues. 

  • If there is no dispute over coverage, there will usually be back and forth between the public adjuster and the insurer about the amount of loss. 

  • If the public adjuster/insured and the insurer cannot agree over the amount of loss, the case goes to a reference proceeding. 

  • A reference proceeding is similar to an arbitration, with three referees who decide the amount of loss based on evidence submitted by both sides.


  • At any time, to answer questions about the process and whether the claim seems to be proceeding on track. 

  • If the public adjuster advises the insured to consult with an attorney.

  • If the insurer raises defenses to coverage.

  • If the public adjuster and the insurer are unable to agree on the amount of loss.

  • If the insurer has demanded a reference proceeding or the public adjuster advises the insured that a reference proceeding is necessary.

  • If the loss occurred 18 months ago and the claim remains open.

Important:  The statute of limitations on property damage claims in Massachusetts is generally two years, but if you wait until close to two years to hire an attorney you can lose crucial rights.


  • If the insurer raises defenses to coverage, the attorney will take the lead.

  • If the public adjuster and insurer are in the negotiating phase, the public adjuster will take the lead.  The attorney will be available to answer questions from both the insured and the public adjuster, and to provide advice, usually behind the scenes. 

  • If the public adjuster and insurer are unable to agree on the amount of loss, the public adjuster and attorney will work closely together.  The attorney will draft formal “demand letters” to the insurer, prepare the case for a reference proceeding, and represent the insured at the reference proceeding.  The public adjuster will support claims about the amount of loss, will prepare or help prepare exhibits, and will be an expert witness at the reference proceeding.


  • Building damage

  • Other structures 

  • Personal property

  • Loss of use / additional living expenses (residential) / business interruption (lost profits) (commercial)

  • Code upgrades

  • Mold

  • Additional coverages such as landscaping, etc.

Special issues in condominium buildings:

  • The master policy is issued to the condominium trust and provides coverage for common elements of the building (for example, the roof and common areas).

  • The unit-owners policy (often called the HO-6 policy) provides coverage for the interior of a unit.

  • Different master policies and unit-owners’ policies have different definitions of common elements.

  • In condominiums, a unit-owners’ personal property and loss of use is typically covered by their unit-owner’s policy, not by the master policy. 

  • Insurance proceeds from the master policy are disbursed to the condominium trust. 


  • Actual cash value (ACV): 
    The value of an item on the date of loss.  This is paid immediately.

  • Replacement cost value (RCV): 
    The cost to replace an item. 

  • Depreciation:
    The difference between ACV and RCV,  This is paid upon completion of the work or when the item is replaced.

  • Code upgrades: 
    The cost to bring a building in line with current state and local building code requirements.  This is paid upon completion.

Material presented in this brochure is for informational purposes only. It is not intended as professional advice and should not be construed as such. Unless and until you enter into a formal agreement with Attorney Kallen, she is not your attorney and you do not have an attorney-client relationship with her.

Let me Introduce Myself!

I have been an attorney in Massachusetts since 1994. I practice in general litigation and focus on insurance coverage and bad faith issues. I am available to assist claimants and insureds who have a dispute over property, homeowners, general liability, motor vehicle, and other insurance policies.

You can learn more about me on my website:


Phone: (617) 363-0547

Insurance Coverage Law in Massachusetts