Silva v. City of Attleboro
Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
908 N.E.2d 722 (2009)
Under Massachusetts law, a funeral director seeking to dispose of a dead body was required to obtain a burial permit from the municipality in which the decedent died. The burial-permit process helped to ensure that funeral directors who improperly disposed of dead bodies did not gain an unfair competitive advantage in the industry. The city of Attleboro (the city) (defendant) assessed a monetary charge to issue burial permits. The money collected from the burial-permit charge was deposited in the city’s general-revenue fund. The amount charged by the city for the issuance of burial permits was reasonably proportional to the amount expended by the city’s board of health in administering the permit process. Paul Silva (plaintiff), a funeral director, brought suit against the city, contending that the burial-permit charge was invalid. The superior court found that the burial-permit charge was a permissible fee. The appeals court reversed, finding that the burial-permit charge was invalid. The city appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Cowin, J.)
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