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Articles Posted in Evidence

Many airlines that service Massachusetts offer international travel. Thus, if a person is injured while traveling by air or disembarking a plane, it may be unclear whether the airline may be liable under United States law. In many instances, the Montreal Convention applies, and a plaintiff must prove certain elements were present when the injury occurred in order to recover damages. The evidence a plaintiff must produce to recover damages under the Montreal Convention was the topic of a recent Massachusetts ruling. If you suffered injuries while traveling, it is possible you have a claim for damages, and you should meet with a proficient Massachusetts personal injury attorney to discuss your rights.

The Plaintiff’s Harm

It is reported that the plaintiff was flying from Boston, Massachusetts, to London, England. When she arrived in London, she was disembarking from the plane when she lost her balance on the last step and fell, injuring both ankles. The step that caused her to fall was bigger than the prior step, but there were no warnings, and no one from the defendant airline offered her assistance while disembarking. The plaintiff then filed a lawsuit against the defendant, asserting negligence claims and seeking damages under the Montreal Convention. The defendant moved for summary judgment on all claims, and the court granted the motion.

Proving Claims Under the Montreal Convention

The court noted that both the United States and the United Kingdom are signatories to the Montreal Convention, a treaty that limits liability for international air carriers. Pursuant to the Convention, a carrier will be liable for bodily harm sustained by a passenger if the injury occurs while the passenger is on the plane or disembarking or embarking. If a claim for damages falls under the Convention, all other claims are preempted. In other words, an air carrier will not be liable for state law claims for harm covered by the Convention; rather, the Convention will provide the sole remedy. Continue reading →

Typically, discovery is conducted after a plaintiff files a lawsuit. In some cases, though, a plaintiff who does not have enough information to adequately institute claims against a defendant may file a complaint for discovery. This will allow the plaintiff to obtain the evidence needed to determine whether there is factual support for a lawsuit against the defendant. Recently, a Massachusetts court addressed the issue of whether a complaint for discovery could be amended to allege negligence claims after the statute of limitations for negligence has run, in a case in which the plaintiff sustained injuries in a fall at the defendant’s senior living facility. If you or a loved one were hurt due to the negligence of another party, you should speak to a capable Massachusetts personal injury attorney to determine whether you may be owed damages.

History of the Case

It is alleged that the plaintiff suffered a broken foot when she was being transferred by aides at the assisted living facility where she resided, which was owned by the defendant. She then filed a complaint for discovery, alleging that she believed she was harmed by the defendant’s negligence but needed information from the defendant to determine whether her claim was viable. The defendant filed a motion asking the court to dismiss the plaintiff’s complaint, which the court granted. The plaintiff then appealed.

Complaints for Discovery Under Massachusetts Law

Under Massachusetts law, a complaint for discovery is permitted when the procedures afforded by statute provide insufficient means for a plaintiff to obtain the information needed to pursue a claim. In deciding whether to grant such a complaint, a court must keep in mind the narrow scope of a complaint for discovery and ensure that the relief requested is within those parameters.

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Under Massachusetts law, when a person dies in an accident, the person’s estate will often seek damages from the parties that may have caused the events leading up to the person’s death. Simply because an accident occurred does not necessarily mean that a party will be deemed liable, however. This was shown in a recent case in which the court affirmed the dismissal of the plaintiff’s wrongful death claims due to his failure to establish that the defendant owed any duty to the deceased person. If you lost a loved one in an accident caused by another party’s reckless acts, it is prudent to speak to a trusted Massachusetts personal injury attorney to discuss what you must prove to recover damages.

Factual History

It is reported that the plaintiff’s decedent was hit by a car when he was walking in the street, and subsequently died from his injuries. The facts demonstrated that he entered the street because the sidewalk that was adjacent to the roadway was impassable due to an accumulation of snow and ice. The plaintiff filed a wrongful death lawsuit against multiple defendants, including the owners of the property that was next to the subject sidewalk. The defendant property owners filed a motion to dismiss, arguing they did not have a duty to maintain a publicly owned sidewalk. The trial court granted the defendant’s motion, and the plaintiff appealed. On appeal, the appellate court affirmed the trial court ruling.

Duty to Maintain Sidewalks in Massachusetts

Upon reviewing the facts of the case, the appellate court noted that it was undisputed that the sidewalk was owned by the city in which it was located and not by the defendant property owners, and that it was a public walkway. Nonetheless, the plaintiff argued the defendant had a duty to refrain from causing dangerous conditions on the sidewalk and that it breached the duty by allowing the accumulation of snow to exist on the sidewalk. The appellate court found that this was insufficient to form the basis of a claim against the defendant.

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While most negligence cases are ultimately resolved based upon the merits of the plaintiff’s claims, some cases are dismissed on procedural grounds. Even if a person’s claims are dismissed due to the failure to comply with the statutory rules, however, relief may be available via a motion to vacate in some circumstances, as discussed in a recent Massachusetts negligence case. If you were harmed by another party’s reckless acts, it is critical to retain an accomplished Massachusetts personal injury attorney who will fight to help you protect your rights.

Factual History

It is reported that the plaintiff filed a negligence lawsuit against the defendant condominium association following an accident in which she sustained injuries. The plaintiff’s claims were ultimately dismissed via a judgment from the court. The plaintiff then filed a motion to vacate the judgment, which the defendant opposed. The court granted the motion, however, and the defendant appealed.

Vacating a Judgment Dismissing a Claim

Massachusetts Rules of Civil Procedure (the Rules) allow a party to move to vacate a judgment if certain parameters are met. Specifically, a judgment may be vacated due to excusable neglect, mistake or inadvertence, or because of newly discovered evidence. It may also be overturned due to fraud or misrepresentation, or because it is void or has been discharged. Finally, the Rules allow for a court to vacate a judgment for any other reason that justifies relief from the judgment. An appellate court will not set aside a trial court ruling on a motion to vacate absent an abuse of discretion.

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It is not uncommon for a business to hire a company to clean and perform maintenance on the business premises. In such instances, a dispute may arise as to which party is liable if a person subsequently suffers injuries in a slip and fall accident caused by an improperly cleaned spill. This was illustrated in a recent slip and fall case in Massachusetts, in which the court ultimately ruled that the plaintiff failed to establish the elements needed to prove the liability of the third-party cleaning company. If you suffered injuries in a slip and fall accident, it is advisable to discuss your harm with a trusted Massachusetts personal injury attorney to assess whether you may be able to pursue claims for damages.

Facts of the Case

It is reported that the plaintiff was shopping in the defendant grocery store when she slipped and fell on a puddle, which caused her to sustain injuries. The puddle was caused by melted ice that was bagged and given to customers to keep perishable items cold. The plaintiff saw a child drop a bag of ice, which created the puddle, prior to her fall. She also observed an employee of the defendant grocery store attempting to clean up the puddle.

Allegedly, the defendant grocery store contracted with the defendant cleaner to clean the premises and provide maintenance services, including cleaning up spills. The plaintiff subsequently filed a lawsuit against both defendants, alleging negligence claims. The defendant cleaner filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that, as a matter of law, it could not be held liable for the plaintiff’s harm.

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Many students find college challenging and struggle to adapt and succeed. Tragically, some students feel as if they are unable to go on and ultimately die due to suicide. Whether a school that is aware of a student’s mental health struggles can be deemed liable for the student’s death by suicide was the topic of a recent Massachusetts opinion in which the court declined to grant the defendant’s motion to dismiss the plaintiff’s negligence claims. If you or your child suffered injuries while attending a college or university, you might be owed damages, and it is advisable to speak to a Massachusetts personal injury attorney to discuss your rights.

The Plaintiff’s Decedent’s Struggles and Untimely Death

It is reported that the plaintiff’s decedent began attending school at the defendant college when she was sixteen. Shortly after she arrived on campus, she advised a mental health counselor that she had a history of suicidal ideation and self-harm. Throughout her years of attendance, several reports were made regarding concern for her safety, and wellness checks were conducted. The counseling department was advised on several occasions that the decedent was abusing substances as well.

Allegedly, the defendant was also advised that the decedent was sexually assaulted, engaged in acts of self-harm and that she wrote a play in which the lead character ended her own life. The defendant never advised the decedent’s parents of any of the foregoing. The decedent was found dead one morning, and the manner of her death was determined to be suicide. The plaintiffs, the decedent’s parents, filed a lawsuit against the defendant alleging negligence and other claims. The defendant filed a motion to dismiss, arguing it did not owe the decedent a duty.

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In Massachusetts, the law requires any person wishing to pursue a medical malpractice action to provide a sufficient offer of proof of liability at the onset of the claim.  Recently, in Moalli v. Genesis Healthcare, the Appeals Court of Massachusetts overturning a trial court’s dismissal of a claim due to insufficient proof, explaining that proof offered will be sufficient if it shows a likelihood that the defendant’s negligence caused the harm alleged.  If you or a loved one was injured due to negligent medical care, you should consult a knowledgeable Massachusetts personal injury attorney to analyze the facts of your case and assess whether you may be able to recover damages.

Facts Surrounding the Decedent’s Illness

Allegedly, the decedent was admitted to the defendant rehabilitation facility following a hospitalization for pneumonia. He was 87 years old at the time of his admission. He was placed in a room with an individual suffering from a Clostridium Difficile (C. Diff) infection. The decedent’s family members were not informed of the infection. Additionally, the decedent’s daughter observed the staff members performing their duties without gloves or gowns. Twelve days after he was admitted the decedent was transferred to another room. He began reporting loose stools and had an elevated white cell count, which was not revealed to the decedent’s family. He was ultimately discharged to an assisted living facility where he continued to be treated for loose stools. Approximately one month after his admission to the defendant facility he was diagnosed with C. Diff. He passed away twelve days later while in hospice. Colitis was listed as one of the significant factors contributing to his death. The plaintiffs, decedent’s family, filed a medical malpractice suit against the defendant facility. The plaintiffs’ complaint was ultimately dismissed for failure to provide sufficient offer of proof of liability. The plaintiffs subsequently appealed.

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Under Massachusetts law, entities that offer means of transportation to the public are known as common carriers. In addition to the general duty of reasonable care imposed on most companies and individuals, the law imposes a duty on common carriers to provide safe transportation for their passengers. As such, if a person is injured while traveling with a common carrier, it may be deemed liable for the person’s harm. Recently, a Massachusetts court addressed the question of whether a company that uses ridesharing applications to connect drivers and passengers is considered a common carrier and, if so, whether it can be held liable for harm caused by drivers using its application. If you were hurt while using a ridesharing service, you may be able to recover damages and should meet with a knowledgeable Massachusetts personal injury attorney to discuss what claims you may be able to pursue.

Facts of the Case

It is reported that the plaintiff used the defendant company’s ridesharing application to hire the defendant driver to transport her to her home in Massachusetts. Instead of taking her home, however, the defendant driver drove the plaintiff to a secluded parking lot where he raped her. The defendant driver was subsequently charged with rape but absconded to another country prior to his criminal trial. The plaintiff then filed a lawsuit, alleging negligence, negligent hiring and supervision, and vicarious liability claims against the defendant company, and assault and battery, and other claims against the defendant driver. The defendant company filed a motion to dismiss, arguing in part that it was not a common carrier and could not be deemed liable for the acts of the driver.

Common Carrier Liability in Massachusetts

In Massachusetts, common carriers are companies that operate any motor vehicle on public roads for the transportation of passengers who choose to purchase the carrier’s services. The goal of common carriers is to provide an affordable means of transportation. Thus, common carriers are obligated by law to provide safe transport for their passengers. The Massachusetts courts have found that this duty includes protecting passengers from harm caused by the intentional torts that are committed by the carrier’s own agents.

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When a plaintiff files a civil lawsuit seeking damages for harm allegedly caused by an accident, the plaintiff places his or her health at issue. Thus, the defendant in the lawsuit is permitted to seek evidence regarding the plaintiff’s health prior to and after the accident, which can include examinations by a neutral third party. Recently, a Massachusetts court discussed what examinations a defendant is permitted to request in a case in which the plaintiff alleged injuries caused by a car accident. If you were injured in an accident caused by another party, it is advisable to speak to a zealous Massachusetts personal injury attorney regarding what steps you may be able to take to protect your rights.

Factual History

It is reported that the plaintiff suffered injuries when she was riding as a passenger in a car that was involved in an accident. She subsequently sued the driver of the car for damages, alleging in part that she suffered a closed head injury due to the defendant’s negligent driving. Following the accident, the plaintiff had to be hospitalized three times for the management of anxiety, depression, and substance abuse. She subsequently underwent an evaluation with a neuropsychologist who stated that her recent mental health symptoms were consistent with a traumatic brain injury.

Allegedly, the plaintiff also identified an expert who would testify as to the plaintiff’s loss of earnings due to the accident. The defendant moved to compel the plaintiff to undergo two separate independent evaluations, one by a neuropsychologist and one by a vocational expert. The plaintiff opposed the defendant’s motion, arguing that the defendant should rely on the evaluations produced by the plaintiff.

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