Verdicts & Settlements

$2,400,000.00
Motorcycle accident at construction site

$1,800,000.00
Child burned in basement explosion

$1,675,000.00
Wrongful death claim against a truck company

$350,000.00
Rear-end car accident with back injury

$260,000.00
Rear-end car accident with neck injury

$255,000.00
Trip and fall on defective brick walkway at fast food restaurant suffering a broken arm, elbow, and two teeth.

$250,000.00
Motorcycle accident with leg injury

$250,000.00
Injuries sustained from cutting down a tree on a friend’s property

$240,000.00
Post-traumatic stress disorder from viewing crane collapse at construction site

$195,000.00
Slip and fall on snow and ice

$190,000.00
Soy milk contamination

$165,000.00
Injuries sustained in MVA resulting in surgery

$155,000.00
Pedestrian police officer struck by drunk driver

$150,000.00
MVA claim for 8 yr old boy against a truck company

$137,500.00
Horse riding accident with multiple injuries

$125,000.00
Tractor trailer accident with minor cognitive injuries

$120,000.00
MVA involving vehicle operated by hospital employee

$112,500.00
Fell through hole in floor of construction site suffering knee injury

$100,000.00
Motor vehicle accident resulting in surgery

$100,000.00
Wife struck at mailbox by husband turning car into driveway

$100,000.00
Trip and fall due to raised asphalt in crosswalk of grocery store

$100,000.00
Police officer injured in fall from unguarded landing

$100,000.00
Police officer injured elbow breaking up bar fight

$100,000.00
Police officer injured in rear-end motor vehicle accident by intoxicated driver

$80,000.00
Dog attack resulting in surgery and permanent scarring

$75,000.00
Passenger on coach bus injured after falling from seat and suffering wrist injury

$75,000.00
Child suffered windpipe laceration requiring surgery after swallowing small toy

$65,000.00
Dog attack resulting in surgery and permanent scarring

$60,000.00
Trip and fall over cables running across floor of restaurant

$500,000.00
Death following Achilles tendon surgery
(Workers' Compensation)

$325,000.00
Gas worker sustained back injury requiring multiple surgeries (Workers' Compensation)

$300,000.00
Certified nurse’s aide sustained back injury requiring multiple surgeries (Workers' Comp)

$200,000.00
Work-related heart attack
(Workers' Compensation)

$200,000.00
Electrical shock and burns (plus third party recovery) (Workers' Compensation)

$150,000.00
Farmer suffered broken ankle
(Workers' Compensation)

$150,000.00
Work-related motor vehicle accident with shoulder injury (Workers' Compensation)

$125,000.00
Grocery clerk suffered back strain
(Workers' Compensation)

$125,000.00
Clerk who was sexually harassed by supervisor
(Workers' Compensation)

$125,000.00
PTSD following gas explosion
(Workers' Compensation)

$125,000.00
Bus driver developed PTSD after hitting pedestrian (Workers' Compensation)

$125,000.00
Registered nurse with latex allergy
(Workers' Compensation)

$125,000.00
Fall aggravated pre-existing multiple sclerosis
(Workers' Compensation)

$112,500.00
Utility worker injured shoulder
(Workers' Compensation)

$112,500.00
Fall aggravated pre-existing arthritis
(Workers' Compensation)

$ 65,000.00
Clerk developed bilateral CTS from repetitive keyboard use (Workers' Compensation)

$ 65,000.00
Back injury from repetitive lifting
(Workers' Compensation)

$ 50,000.00
Shoulder injury from slip and fall outside of work (Workers' Compensation)

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The manufacturer of a product can be held accountable for a consumer’s injury if the company failed to warn of side effects. Federal law requires manufacturers of a generic drug to provide users with the same warning as the brand name product. Massachusetts’ highest court recently issued an opinion outlining when and how an injured patient can pursue a Massachusetts product liability action against the brand name manufacturer after she or he has been injured following the use of a generic prescription. The court ultimately concluded an injured patient is precluded from pursuing a negligence action against the brand name manufacturer, nor are they able to bring or join a class action claim.  Prescription PillsHowever, an injured patient is able to pursue a claim of recklessness if there was an intentional failure to to update the label when the company knew or had reason to know of an unreasonable risk associated with the use of its product, since federal law requires generic medication to use warnings identical to brand name drugs.

Drug manufacturers that innovate a new product must go through a rigorous approval process overseen by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Drugs must be safe and effective, and they must come with a label that is accurate and adequate. The process is lengthy and expensive. In order to provide lower-cost alternatives, the U.S. Congress enacted legislation that allowed generic drugs to use an abbreviated application process as long as their product was the “bioequivalent” of its brand name counterpart. The generic manufacturer must then use the same warning label as the brand name. To balance the brand name’s research and development interest against the public’s need for affordable medicine, the brand name manufacturer enjoys an extended patent monopoly while simultaneously shouldering greater responsibilities for the adequacy and accuracy of its warning label. Generics cannot change their label without approval, but brand names can.

The case at hand arose from the use of a generic drug prescribed to treat protastic hyperplasia in those who have an enlarged prostate. After the patient began the use of this drug, he experienced several side effects, including erectile dysfunction and a decreased libido. These side effects persisted and worsened, even after he ceased taking the medicine. Eventually, the patient was diagnosed with an androgen deficiency and hypogodanism, which was connected with his use of the generic prostate drug. The condition continued and could potentially continue indefinitely. The warning label, styled after the brand name drug, warned that sexual side effects could occur but would stop after use of the drug ceased.

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If an accident occurs, both parties will likely look to insurance policies for coverage of a claim. The at-fault party, in particular, expects his or her insurance company to step in and defend the claim for them, shielding them from full personal liability. This is known as indemnification. The Appeals Court of Massachusetts recently looked at whether or not an insurance company providing a homeowner’s policy was obliged to defend or indemnify the policyholder’s son in a Massachusetts personal injury lawsuit filed by someone who was punched in the face by the son while in the homeowner’s home. The injured person filed suit against the son, alleging the insured’s son struck his face, causing Residential Drivewayserious and permanent injuries.

The father was insured under a personal umbrella liability policy in addition to his homeowner’s policy. The insurance company, after notice of the incident and lawsuit, moved for a declaratory judgment by the trial court to establish it had no duty to defend or indemnify the son. The trial court granted the motion, and the homeowner appealed. The appellate court reviewed the findings for clear error and for a ruling on the questions of law.

The Appeals Court first assessed the testimony of three witnesses who were present during the altercation. Their testimony resulted in finding the son hit the personal injury plaintiff three times in the face with a closed fist. This knocked him unconscious and led to further injuries after he hit his head on the pavement as he fell. The plaintiff sustained fractures in his face, jaw, and skull, developing a seizure disorder. In its assessment of whether or not this type of incident was something covered under the homeowner’s policy, the trial court determined the incident was not an act of self-defense nor an accident. The court found the son acted intentionally with the purpose of causing the other man injury.

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A recently published Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Reviewing Board decision assessed an administrative decision ordering the insurer for the employer to pay reasonable and related medical expenses under sections 13 and 30 of the Workers’ Compensation Act. The insurer appealed the decision, arguing the administrative judge erred by ruling in the employee’s favor, tablesclaiming the judge did not make consistent findings regarding the medical evidence and failed to address the motion to discontinue weekly benefits. The Board disagreed with some of the insurer’s characterizations of the findings but ultimately determined the case needed to be recommitted for additional findings of fact.

The employee is a 59-year-old woman with an associates degree, whose work history includes manual labor and desk positions. Prior to the injury central to this decision, the woman suffered an injury in the mid-90’s while working for a chain store, hurting her lower back. She was additionally harmed by a motor vehicle accident in 2005, sustaining head, neck, lower back, and shoulder injuries. The injury at hand occurred in 2014 while she was employed as a cook. Her position required her to make and serve lunch to over 100 people, lifting and washing heavy cookware before, during, and after every meal for an eight-hour period. The employee did not have issues with her low back for most of her employment until she slipped while moving food from one station to the other. While the employee caught herself before hitting the ground, she immediately felt pain in her low back. She then fell a second time on the same day. Both incidents were reported, and she received treatment for her injuries at a local hospital. The insurer provided payment for temporary total incapacity benefits following the accident. The injured worker also received acupuncture, injections, and chiropractic care, but those only provided fleeting relief.

Procedurally, the case moved forward with a hearing regarding a claim for permanent benefits. The insurer asked the judge to discontinue the temporary benefits. The judge denied the worker’s claim for section 34 benefits but did not address the insurer’s request to discontinue benefits. The judge additionally ordered the insurer to pay for a proposed lumbar surgery. Only the insurer appealed from the hearing decision. The Board felt the findings of fact were acceptable regarding the medical evidence, but it did agree the judge fell short by failing to address the insurer’s motion to discontinue benefits. The complaint in 2015 sought a discontinuance of the issued benefits, appealing a conference order that required it to pay the maximum partial incapacity benefits. Earning capacity was not formally discussed, even though the determination to deny permanent benefits included a finding the injured person could earn her pre-injury average weekly wage.

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Several things must be considered when a personal injury settlement is reached. One of these considerations is whether the injured person is required by law to notify and pay a portion of the settlement to a third party. Some entities, often health care providers, are allowed to place a lien on settlements or benefits so that they can be paid for the services previously rendered. The Appeals Court recently examined an appeal by the estate of a woman injured in a Massachusetts car accident, which was Residential Careordered to provide payment to the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services (MassHealth).

The estate reached a settlement with the defendant driver who caused the car accident and subsequent injury. This accident aggravated the now-deceased plaintiff’s dementia prior to her death a year after the accident. The estate filed suit within two years after her passing and ultimately reached a settlement of $250,000. Before the injured person died, MassHealth provided over $18,000 worth of medical care and imposed a lien on the claim for reimbursement of expenses paid for the injured person’s care.

The estate and MassHealth conferred about the lien prior to the settlement, discussing the possibility to reduce the lien. However, nothing came of these discussions because the injured person’s attorney did not submit the forms that would reduce the lien. After the settlement was reached with the defendant driver, MassHealth issued demand letters to the estate for payment. Eventually, MassHealth learned it was not named on the settlement check. Initially, MassHealth attempted to discuss the matter with the estate’s attorney, but it eventually moved to intervene on the settlement. The lower court granted the motion for intervention and ordered payment of the medical expenses. The estate appealed.

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The timing of when a civil action is filed can determine whether or not the lawsuit is heard at all in the civil justice system. Massachusetts General Laws dictate the period in which a Massachusetts medical malpractice action must be filed following an accident or injury. When the injury involves medical malpractice among a series of appointments, doctors, and care over a period of time, it can become very difficult to pinpoint whether the date an injury occurred was within the prescribed three-year period. Prior case law established it is not necessary the plaintiff knows the defendant was actually responsible for the injury, only that the medical care given by the defendant may have caused the injury.

This is seen in a recent Appeals Court decision (17-P-722), in which an injured patient and her husband were prevented from pursuing their negligence and loss of consortium claims against the treating physician and clockhospital providing medical care following a laparoscopic sigmoid colectomy. This patient suffered from medical abdominal issues prior to this procedure, and she sought treatment in 2012 after she was diagnosed with diverticulitis. Following the colectomy, her recovery was challenged by difficulties with the abdominal fluid drainage and a slow return to gastrointestinal function. She was discharged but returned a week later after experiencing chills, cramps, and emesis. The physician re-examined her and told her he believed she had a small bowel obstruction due to internal organ adhesions.

Eventually, she was transferred to a different hospital for care by a different surgeon. Tests taken at this location showed urine was leaking from her left ureter into her pelvis, which was likely caused by the prior procedure that severed her ureter. A special tube was required to drain urine from her left kidney. In the following month, she was seen again at the second hospital with infections from the tube. She had surgery the following March to repair the severed ureter into the bladder, and this operation confirmed the ureter had been severed during the initial surgery.

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The Appeals Court recently evaluated a Massachusetts wrongful death action precluded by the medical malpractice tribunal from moving forward in state court. The deceased in Appeals Court case number 16-P-1715 was admitted to a hospital for mental health treatment following the death of her premature twins. She asked to be discharged, and she was released three days later after an evaluation by a physician, who presented her with an after-care Fall hikeplan. The woman died the next day in a homeless shelter due to an overdose of multiple drugs. The deceased’s aunt and personal representative of the estate filed a wrongful death lawsuit, alleging the hospital and physician were negligent in their discharge of her niece.

Like all cases involving medical malpractice, this lawsuit went before the Commonwealth’s tribunal for assessment. The estate was required to show the hospital provided health care as defined by G. L. c. 231, § 60B, the hospital failed to provide care that’s expected of the average member of the profession practicing the same type of medicine, and the failure to meet the standard of care was more likely than not what caused the death. The tribunal determined the estate’s offered proof was insufficient to show these things, and the case was dismissed after the estate failed to post the statutory bond.

The estate offered the testimony of an expert witness as evidence the hospital did not follow the standard of care in its discharge of the deceased immediately before her death. Case law requires an expert to have sufficient training, experience, education, and familiarity with the subject matter of the testimony. The tribunal cannot weigh the evidence as a fact-finder, and neither can the reviewing appellate court. Both are required to view the evidence presented by the estate in the light most favorable to them.

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After a workplace accident, a Massachusetts worker may have more to consider beyond the receipt of funds for lost wages and medical expenses. The Supreme Court addresses one of the related concerns in a recently issued Massachusetts workers’ compensation decision, SJC-12331. The injured employee in this case worked for a Massachusetts town’s department of public works for nearly 27 years. On the day he was injured, he began receiving workers’ compensation benefits as well as two hours per week of sick or vacation pay so that he could keep his union membership and life insurance.

The town decided to involuntarily retire the worker for accidental disability, allowed by G.L. c. 32, Sec. 7. The retirement board of the town approved the application, allowing the worker to receive his workers’ Resting Gavelcompensation benefits and supplemental pay until July 7, 2012. G. L. c. 32, § 7 permits three possible retirement dates:  the date of the injury, the date six months prior to the filing of the written application for retirement, or the date on which he last received regular compensation for his employment in public service. The date must be the latest of the three. The Public Employee Retirement Administration Commission (PERAC) decided the employee’s last date of regular compensation was July 7, 2012, using his supplemental sick and vacation pay as the basis of their decision.

The employee appealed, and the division of administrative law appeals (DALA) reversed the decision, finding the supplemental pay was not “regular compensation” as defined by the statute. Instead, DALA found the retirement date to be six months prior to the filing of the application because the “regular compensation” ended on the day of the injury, making this one the latest of the three options. PERAC appealed this finding to the next level of administrative review (CRAB), which upheld DALA’s decision. Judicial review was then sought in the civil court system. The superior court also affirmed DALA’s decision, which then was appealed once more by PERAC and moved to the Supreme Court on their own motion.

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In Massachusetts, any medical malpractice action must be approved by a tribunal before it can be filed in civil court. The Massachusetts Appeals Court recently reversed a tribunal decision in 17-P-780, which prevented an estate from pursuing a Massachusetts medical malpractice lawsuit against the deceased’s primary care physician. For a 17-month period, the deceased sought care from his doctor several times for various symptoms. Some Knothe experienced, like shortness of breath and chest tightness, are linked to heart disease. His physician offered diagnosis and treatment for other maladies but did not address or treat him for a heart-related condition. He also failed to refer him to a cardiologist.

The deceased patient was taken to an emergency room at the end of this period, experiencing a heart attack due to 100 percent blockage of his left anterior artery. He died soon afterward at the age of 46. His mother and personal representative filed a lawsuit against his treating physician for the patient’s death because of his failure to identify and address the heart disease in violation of the applicable standard of care.

The matter went before the medical tribunal, per G.L. c. 231, sec. 60B. The tribunal determined the proof was insufficient to raise a legitimate question of liability appropriate for judicial inquiry, even if it was substantiated. The estate was required to show the hospital was a provider of health care as defined by the General Laws, the hospital did not follow good medical practice, and the extent of damages suffered as a result of these actions. To see whether or not the physician at issue followed the standard of care, the tribunal looks at whether or not the care was what an average qualified physician in his or her area of specialty would provide. An injured party usually offers the opinion of a qualified medical physician to establish the standard of care.

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If you are injured while at a construction site, the remedies and damages available to you may be multiple and varied. You may be able to receive workers’ compensation from your employer if you worked on site, as well as pursue damages from any independent contractor if multiple parties were responsible for the conditions that led to the injury. Many companies provide the monetary damages to the injured person by tapping their insurance benefits obtained for this exact scenario. Companies also look to the insurer to indemnify sidewalk constructionthem, or step into their shoes for the purpose of defending litigation. If an insurer refuses to provide funds, the injured person must hope the company has assets, or the ability to obtain them, to satisfy any judgment in her or his favor.

The Commonwealth’s Appeals Court recently affirmed a summary judgment granted to a corporate insurer who refused to indemnify its insured for a personal injury verdict against the company and its independent contractor in a Massachusetts construction accident case. The independent contractor appealed, arguing the insurer failed to preserve the right to exclude independent contractors during the original tort action and cannot raise it now. The contractor also argued the exclusion within the policy is ambiguous and must be construed against the insurance company. It also alleged the exclusion did not apply in this circumstance because the accident was actually caused by the policyholder.

A woman injured herself at a construction site while walking on a sidewalk, tripping and falling on a cold joint built by the independent contractor. The contractor was hired to construct the sidewalk in a residential housing project. The contractor ceased paving just short of a driveway and built a “cold joint,” or space between two batches of concrete set at different times. The injured woman sued both the independent and general contractors of the project for the negligent construction of the cold joint and failure to warn of the defect. At trial, the jury found for the injured woman, finding the independent contractor to be 55% at fault and the general contractor to be 30% at fault. Since the insurer refused to indemnify the general contractor for the judgment, the independent contractor (using its insurance policy) satisfied the full amount.

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Reverse mortgages are becoming a popular source of income for aging Massachusetts residents who have accrued equity in their home. These homeowners borrow against their home equity in exchange for liquid assets to help pay for daily living expenses. A home equity conversion mortgage is one of these loans available to homeowners over the age of 61 under which payments are made to the owner as a line of credit. These are either provided in a lump sum or in monthly payouts. The loan does not become due until the borrower dies or no longer lives in the home, with interest and fees typically paid by the sale of the home. With a reverse mortgage, the borrower is usually not personally liable for the repayment of the debt. Cozy Home The lender looks solely at the mortgaged property for repayment. This means upon the owner’s death or choice to live elsewhere, the entire loan and fees come due, and it is up to the heirs to repay the loan by selling the home. Failing to do so may mean the lender can foreclose on the mortgage and sell the home.

The Massachusetts Supreme Court recently issued an opinion (SJC-12325) dealing with three Massachusetts foreclosure actions initiated by a lender, which chose to pursue actions in Land Court against each borrower or the executors of their estate, seeking a declaratory judgment to foreclose on the respective homes through the statutory power of sale. The language of the reverse mortgage in this case stated the lender may invoke the power of sale and other remedies allowed by applicable law in the event of a default. The court felt the central question was whether or not Massachusetts G. L.c. 183, § 21 allowed the lender to foreclose in such a manner.

The reverse mortgage form in this lawsuit gave the lender the power to require immediate payment in full if the borrower dies or the property is no longer the borrower’s principal residence. Under this agreement, the borrower held no personal liability for repayment of the debt, and the lender could not pursue a deficiency judgment against them in the event of a foreclosure. The only means of enforcement was through the sale of the property.