SECTION 1. Section 11I of chapter 12 of the General Laws is hereby amended by inserting before the existing paragraph the letter (a) and further amended by adding the following new paragraphs: -
(b) Any person whose exercise or enjoyment of rights secured by the constitution or laws of the United States, or of rights secured by the constitution or laws of the commonwealth, has been interfered with by a person or entity acting under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom or usage of the commonwealth or its subdivisions, may institute and prosecute in his or her own name and on his or her own behalf a civil action for injunctive and other appropriate relief, including the award of compensatory monetary damages. Said action shall be brought either in the superior court for the county in which the conduct complained of occurred or in the superior court for the county in which the person or entity whose conduct complained of resides or has a principle place of business. A plaintiff who prevails by obtaining significant relief after the filing of an action under this paragraph shall be entitled to an award of the costs of litigation and reasonable attorneys’ fees in an amount to be fixed by the court.
(c) In an action under this section, qualified immunity shall not apply to claims for monetary damages except upon a finding that, at the time of the challenged conduct, no reasonable defendant could have had reason to believe that such conduct would violate the law.
SECTION 2. Section 11J of chapter 12 of the General Laws is hereby amended by striking out each time they appear the words “eleven I” and inserting in place thereof the words: --
SECTION 3. The provisions of this act will take effect immediately upon enactment.
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