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Articles Posted in Personal Injury

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When a person retains an attorney for any legal matter, it is critical that the person communicate candidly with the attorney to prevent the unwitting waiver of the right to pursue other claims. This was demonstrated in a recent case in which the court dismissed a plaintiff’s product liability lawsuit due to his failure to disclose his potential claims against the company that manufactured the product in a prior bankruptcy proceeding. If you were injured by a defective product, it is wise to meet with a knowledgeable Massachusetts personal injury attorney as soon as possible to discuss what measures you can take to protect your right to seek compensation.

Facts Regarding the Plaintiff’s Injury and Bankruptcy Proceeding

It is reported that in April 2018, the plaintiff purchased a battery-operated skateboard that was manufactured by the defendant. Two months later, while he was riding on the board, it suddenly shut off, causing him to be thrown into the air. The plaintiff sustained a concussion and shoulder injuries in the fall, which necessitated a trip to the emergency room. He subsequently suffered from headaches, memory loss, and back and neck pain due to his injuries. He emailed the defendant on the day of his accident and multiple times thereafter regarding the accident and the potentially defective nature of the board.

Allegedly, in October 2018, the plaintiff filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. In the course of his bankruptcy proceedings, he was required to list any claims he had against any other parties, including accidents, regardless of whether a lawsuit had been filed. He did not list the skateboard accident, however. In February 2019, the plaintiff’s debts were discharged, and his bankruptcy case was closed. The plaintiff then filed a lawsuit against the defendant asserting numerous claims and seeking $10 million in damages. The defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, asserting that judicial estoppel barred the plaintiff’s claims.

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Under Massachusetts law, people that are injured by defective products have a right to pursue claims for damages against anyone in the chain of distribution of the product, including the manufacturer. While, in some instances, it is easy to determine who should be named as a defendant in a product liability case, in cases in which another company purchased the company that originally sold the product, it can be difficult to ascertain who is liable for the alleged harm. Recently, the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts discussed successor liability in a case in which the plaintiff alleged he was injured by a defective vehicle. If you sustained injuries due to a dangerous product, it is wise to speak with an assertive Massachusetts product liability attorney regarding what claims you may be able to pursue.

Factual Background

It is alleged that the plaintiff suffered significant injuries in a car accident. He subsequently filed a product liability lawsuit in Massachusetts state court against the defendant, alleging the car was dangerously designed and manufactured. The defendant was not the company that manufactured the car, however, but was the company that purchased certain assets from the original manufacturer when the original manufacturer filed for bankruptcy. Under the Master Transaction Agreement approved by the bankruptcy court, the defendant agreed to assume liability for any product liability claim arising out of motor vehicle accidents occurring after the sale. The defendant removed the action to federal court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1332 and then filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the court lacked jurisdiction over the defendant.

Successor Liability for Harm Caused by Defective Products

Generally, a successor company does not assume the liabilities of its predecessor. There are exceptions to the general rule, however, such as in cases in which the purchaser expressly or impliedly agrees to take on such liabilities. In such cases in which a successor can be held liable for its predecessor’s acts, the predecessor’s contacts with a forum may be imputed to the successor.

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In any civil lawsuit, the plaintiff has a certain amount of leeway in deciding where the case should be filed. In some instances, however, the defendant will seek to move the case to federal court, which is often less favorable to plaintiffs. Recently, the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts discussed what a defendant seeking to move a case to federal court must establish, in a case in which the plaintiff averred that she suffered harm because of a defective product. If you were injured by a dangerous product, it is wise to speak with a trusted Massachusetts personal injury attorney regarding your options for pursuing claims against the party responsible for your harm.

Facts and Procedural History

It is reported that the plaintiff was lying in a hammock manufactured by the defendant when it collapsed, causing the plaintiff to fracture her back. The plaintiff filed a complaint in the Massachusetts Superior Court, alleging product liability claims against the defendant. The defendant then removed the case to federal court on the basis of jurisdiction. In turn, the plaintiff filed a motion asking the court to remand the case to the Superior Court, on the grounds that the amount in controversy was not over $75,000.00. The court ultimately granted the plaintiff’s motion, remanding the case.

Federal Diversity Jurisdiction

Under 28 U.S.C. 1441(a), a defendant has the right to remove any action from State court to a district court that has original jurisdiction. If it appears that a district court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over a case that has been removed from State court to a federal court, however, the case must be remanded. The defendant that removed the case to federal court bears the burden of proving that the court has subject matter jurisdiction over the matter. Further, the courts strictly construe the statute pertaining to removal, and any doubts regarding whether removal is proper are resolved in favor of remanding the case.

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In any instance in which a person suffers bodily harm due to the negligence of another, they have the right to pursue claims for damages. It is critical, however, to pursue any claims in a timely manner; otherwise, the right to recover compensation may be waived. In some cases, however, the statute of limitations may be extended by the discovery rule if the injured party did not know the cause of his or her injury at the time the injury occurred. Recently, the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts discussed the discovery rule in a case in which the plaintiff alleged he suffered harm due to his employer’s violations of federal law. If you suffered harm due to another party’s carelessness, you should speak with a trusted Massachusetts personal injury attorney regarding what claims you may be able to pursue.

Facts of the Case

It is alleged that the plaintiff filed a lawsuit naming his former employer as a defendant and alleging personal injury arising out of negligence and the failure to comply with the Federal Employer’s Liability Act (FELA). The defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that the applicable statute of limitations barred the plaintiff’s claims. The court found that the discovery rule operated to extend the statutory period, and denied the defendant’s motion.

The Discovery Rule

FELA specifically provides that any lawsuit alleging violations of FELA must be instituted within three years of the date the cause of action accrued. When a plaintiff’s harm was not caused by a discrete, discernible accident, but is the result of continuous exposure to harmful conditions over time, courts apply the discovery rule to assess when the cause of action accrues. The discovery rule will not extend the statute of limitations endlessly, however. Instead, the statute of limitations will begin to run when the plaintiff knows or reasonably should know, both that he or she is injured and the cause of his or her injury.

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Defective products harm millions of people each year, causing serious injuries, and in some cases, death. Anyone harmed by a defective product can seek recourse via a civil lawsuit, and product manufacturers can be held liable for the damages caused by defective products under several different theories. Recently, the United States District for the District of Massachusetts discussed the grounds for pursuing product liability claims under the theory of design defect and failure to warn. If you suffered harm or the loss of a loved one because of a defective product, it is sensible to consult a capable Massachusetts product liability attorney to discuss your potential claims.

Facts and Procedural History

It is reported that the plaintiff’s decedent was operating a lathe manufactured by the defendant. He inserted a piece of metal into the lathe, and the bar stock of the lathe subsequently bent to a 90-degree angle and struck the decedent in the head. He suffered massive bleeding and was transported to the hospital. He underwent five surgeries but ultimately died from his injuries. The plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the defendant asserting several claims, including breach of implied warranty. Following discovery, both parties filed motions for summary judgment, which the court denied in part and granted in part.

Product Liability Claims Under Massachusetts Law

Under Massachusetts law, a manufacturer that sells products impliedly warrants that his products are fit for the ordinary purpose for which such products are used, which is referred to as the implied warranty of merchantability. Thus, a manufacturer can be held liable under a theory of breach of implied warranty if a person is harmed by a product’s defective design or the manufacturer’s failure to warn.

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When a person suffers harm on someone else’s property, he or she may be able to pursue damages via a negligence claim in a civil lawsuit. A plaintiff asserting a negligence claim must establish each element of negligence, though, otherwise, the claim may be dismissed. This was demonstrated in a recent ruling in which the court dismissed the plaintiff’s negligence claim due to her failure to establish causation. If you sustained injuries due to another party’s negligence, it is prudent to consult a skillful Massachusetts personal injury attorney to discuss what evidence you need to seek a successful outcome.

Facts Regarding the Plaintiff’s Harm

It is alleged that the plaintiff ate dinner at a restaurant owned by the defendant corporation, after which she exited the restaurant through a revolving door. When she went through the door, however, she fell onto the sidewalk. She subsequently filed a lawsuit against the defendant, alleging the door was defective, and the defect caused her to fall. In support of her assertion, she submitted an expert report from a building contractor that stated that although the door complied with national standards with regards to rotational requirements, it was more likely not in compliance at the time of the accident, and exceeded the upper limitations. The defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that the plaintiff could not prove causation.

Establishing the Elements of a Negligence Claim

In Massachusetts, a plaintiff alleging negligence must show that the defendant owed him or her a duty to act with reasonable care, the defendant breached the duty, the plaintiff suffered damages, and the damages were caused by the breach. In the subject case, the court found that the plaintiff had established that the defendant owed her a duty and that a reasonable jury could find that the defendant breached the duty by failing to inspect the door on a regular basis. The court found that the defendant could not establish causation, however.

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Under Massachusetts law, the Commonwealth is granted broad immunities from tort claims. While the Massachusetts Torts Claims Act (the Act) provides some exceptions to sovereign immunity the exceptions are narrow and only apply in certain circumstances. Recently, a Massachusetts appellate court analyzed whether the Act permitted a minor to pursue negligence claims against a Commonwealth entity following an assault by a third party while the minor was in custody. If you suffered an injury while you were in the custody of the Commonwealth or due to a Commonwealth actor, it is prudent to consult a seasoned Massachusetts personal injury attorney to discuss your options for seeking recourse.

Facts Surrounding the Plaintiff’s Harm

Allegedly, the plaintiff, who is a minor, was in the custody of the defendant Commonwealth entity at a center for juvenile offenders. The plaintiff was assaulted by another resident, after which he suffered a stroke, swelling of the brain, and a dissection of the carotid artery. Due to his injuries, he requires around the clock care. He then brought a lawsuit against the defendant alleging several claims, including a negligence claim pursuant to the Act. Specifically, the plaintiff alleged the defendant failed to prevent the other resident from causing his injuries. The defendant moved to dismiss all of the plaintiff’s claims. The court granted the motion, and the plaintiff appealed. On appeal, the appellate court affirmed.

Commonwealth Liability Under the Act

The Act waives the Commonwealth’s immunity to a limited extent. Further, there are numerous exclusions from the limited waiver. For example, one exclusion provides the Commonwealth immunity for any claim that arises out of the failure to diminish or prevent a harmful condition or situation, which includes the tortious conduct or violent acts of a third party, as long as the Commonwealth employer or one of its employees was not the original cause of the tortious act.

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Slip and fall accidents are one of the most common causes of personal injuries in Massachusetts. While in many instances, the condition that caused a fall is obvious, in others, it is not clear whether a condition contributed to a fall. Thus, in some cases, a person injured in a fall may need to retain an expert to offer testimony regarding the dangerous nature of a condition on a premises. Expert testimony must meet certain standards to be admissible, however, as demonstrated in a recent Massachusetts slip and fall case. If you sustained injuries in a fall at a business in Massachusetts, it is prudent to meet with a zealous Massachusetts personal injury attorney to discuss what evidence you must produce to recover damages.

Factual History

It is alleged that the plaintiff fell while descending a set of stairs at the defendant grocery store. Prior to the fall, she visited the defendant store regularly and never observed any defects in the stairs. She testified, however, that when she began to walk down the stairs, her heel caught on the tread, which was loose, causing her to fall. The defendant store’s manager inspected the stairs after the fall and did not observe any defects. A few weeks later, though, the plaintiff and a friend visited the store, at which time they observed the loose tread. As such, the plaintiff filed a negligence claim against the defendant in the Massachusetts federal court.

Reportedly, two years after the fall, the plaintiff retained a licensed engineer to inspect the steps. The engineer set forth a report concluding that the deterioration of the concrete at the top of the stairs created a difference in height between the tread and the stairs and that the height differential caused the plaintiff’s fall. The defendant moved to strike the plaintiff’s expert report.

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Most drivers in Massachusetts carry automobile insurance. Thus, if a driver causes an accident that harms another person, the driver’s automobile insurance carrier will typically make payments to the injured party on behalf of the driver. If an insurance company declines to make payments to an injured party on behalf of a negligent driver, however, the injured party cannot pursue claims directly against the insurer, as explained in a recent Massachusetts appellate court case. If you suffered harm in a car accident caused by a reckless driver, it is in your best interest to speak with a skillful Massachusetts personal injury attorney regarding your options for seeking damages for your harm.

Facts of the Case

It is reported that the plaintiff was involved in an accident with a driver that was insured by the defendant. The defendant’s insured was at fault for the accident, and therefore the defendant attempted to negotiate a settlement agreement with the plaintiff. The parties were unable to independently resolve the matter, however. As such, the plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the defendant, seeking compensation for the damages caused by the defendant’s insured. The defendant filed a motion to dismiss, which the trial court granted. The plaintiff then appealed the trial court’s dismissal of his case.

An Insurer’s Liability for the Acts of its Insured

Under Massachusetts law, a person injured in an accident cannot pursue claims against a liability insurer for the acts of its insured. Instead, a person injured in an accident must engage in a two-step process to recover damages from an insurance company. First, the injured person must obtain a judgment against an insured party. If the injured person obtains a judgment and the judgment is not satisfied, the injured person may then pursue a bill to reach and apply against the insurer of the liable party.

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Generally, when a customer is injured while shopping at a business, it is due to a dangerous condition. Although a customer injured by a dangerous condition at a business can pursue damages from the business, in most cases, the business will only be deemed liable if it knew or should have known of the dangerous condition that caused the customer’s harm. This was discussed in a recent Massachusetts case in which the court dismissed the plaintiff’s claims due to insufficient evidence that the defendant knew of a foreseeable risk of harm. If you suffered personal injuries due to a dangerous condition at a business, you should meet with a trusted Massachusetts personal injury attorney to discuss whether you may be able to pursue a claim for damages.

Factual Background

It is reported that the plaintiff visited the defendant’s store to shop for groceries. When she entered the store, she took a shopping cart. She placed a newspaper in the cart and noticed it was slightly wobbly, but did not exchange it for another cart. When she was emptying the shopping cart at the check-out counter, the weight of the shopping cart shifted, and the cart fell on top of her, causing her to sustain injuries. She subsequently filed a lawsuit against the defendant, arguing the defendant was negligent for allowing customers to use a defective shopping cart. The defendant moved for summary judgment, arguing that the plaintiff could not establish the elements of negligence as required to recover damages.

Proving Liability for a Dangerous Condition at a Store

Under Massachusetts law, an owner of a store has a duty to maintain its premises in a reasonably safe condition in consideration of all of the circumstances, including the likelihood of injury to others, the seriousness of a potential injury, and the burden of eliminating the risk of injury. Pursuant to that duty, store owners must guard against risks of harm that are foreseeable. In other words, a store owner must prevent risks of harm that it knows about or reasonably should know about, and which can be diminished via reasonably preventative measures.

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