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Articles Posted in Personal Injury

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In Massachusetts, a person that suffers harm due to someone else’s negligence can pursue damages from the negligent party in a civil lawsuit. Additionally, if the negligent party was working on behalf of another individual or entity, the company that employed the negligent party may be held liable as well. Recently, a Massachusetts appellate court explained when an employer might be held liable for an employee’s actions in a case in which the employee assaulted a customer.  If you suffered injuries due to the acts of an employee of a company, you should speak to a vigilant Massachusetts personal injury attorney to assess what parties may be liable for the harm.

Case History

Allegedly, the plaintiff was assaulted by an employee of the defendant. The employee had driven a rented truck to Massachusetts to move a customer for the defendant but was not working at the time of the attack. The plaintiff and her husband filed a lawsuit against the defendant, alleging claims of negligent hiring, supervision, and retention. The defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that it should not be liable for the plaintiff’s harm because the harm was not a foreseeable consequence of the assailant’s employment. The court granted the defendant’s motion, and the plaintiff appealed.

Employer Liability for the Acts of an Employee

Under Massachusetts law, a plaintiff alleging negligence must provide evidence demonstrating that the defendant owed a duty to the plaintiff to act with reasonable care, but that the defendant breached the duty, and damage resulted in that was caused by the breach. In the subject case, the appellate court found that the defendant breached the duty to inquire into the assailant’s background prior to hiring the assailant. Further, a background check would have revealed that the assailant had an extensive criminal history, including multiple felonies. Additionally, the appellate court noted that the defendant violated its own policy in failing to conduct a background check.

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Typically, a plaintiff in a Massachusetts medical malpractice lawsuit will assert a negligence claim against the defendant, but in cases in which the defendants’ acts were especially egregious, the defendant may not only be held liable for negligence, but also for gross negligence. In a recent Massachusetts case in which the defendant doctor appealed the trial court verdict, the appellate court discussed the factors weighed in determining if a defendant’s actions constitute gross negligence. If you were harmed by a negligent healthcare provider, it is advisable to consult an attorney regarding what claims you may be able to pursue.

Factual and Procedural History

It is reported that the plaintiff’s decedent underwent a surgical repair of a hiatal hernia that was performed by the defendant. During the procedure, the defendant used tacks to attach the mesh to the decedent’s diaphragm. The warning materials for the tacks indicated they should not be used in certain areas of the body, such as near the pericardium. Following the surgery, the decedent began to experience cardiac symptoms and ultimately died due to cardiac arrest.

Allegedly, the plaintiff filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the defendant. Following a trial, a jury found in favor of the plaintiff, finding the defendant was both negligent and grossly negligent in the treatment of the decedent, and that his negligence caused the decedent’s death. The defendant appealed on the issue of whether he was grossly negligent.

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In Massachusetts, if an employee suffers an injury in the workplace, the employee is typically limited to pursuing a workers’ compensation claim to recover compensation for his or her harm. If the person that suffers an injury while working is not an employee, however, he or she may be able to pursue a claim for damages if the injury was caused by another person’s negligence. As explained in a recent Massachusetts case, though, a person that employs an independent contractor generally cannot be held liable for injuries caused by the negligent acts of the contractor. If you suffered harm due to someone else’s negligence, you may be able to pursue a claim for damages and should consult a trusted Massachusetts personal injury attorney to discuss your harm.

Facts of the Case

It is reported that the defendant homeowner hired a general contractor to perform renovations on her home. In turn, the general contractor hired the plaintiff, a subcontractor, to assist with the project. During the project, the plaintiff severed his thumb while using a table saw he owned. The plaintiff then filed a negligence claim against the defendant, arguing she negligently caused his injury by failing to provide a safe construction area. The defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, which was granted by the trial court. The plaintiff appealed, and on appeal, the appellate court affirmed the trial court ruling.

Employer Liability for Harm Caused by an Independent Contractor

In part, the plaintiff alleged that the defendant should be held liable for the plaintiff’s harm because the defendant retained control over the project. Generally, a person that employs an independent contractor will not be deemed liable for any harm negligently caused by the independent contractor. In other words, the independent contractor’s work should be considered his or her own enterprise, and the independent contractor should be charged with the duty of preventing harm to others.

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When people decided to attend college, they generally assume that whatever school they attend will provide a safe environment. Thus, in some instances in which a person suffers injuries while attending a university, the school will be deemed accountable. Liability will not be imposed in all instances, however, but only when the harm suffered is foreseeable, as discussed in a recent Massachusetts case. If you suffered harm due to the negligence of another party, you may be able to recover compensation and should consult a knowledgeable Massachusetts personal injury attorney to discuss your potential claims.

Facts Regarding the Plaintiff’s Harm

It is reported that the plaintiff, who was a freshman at the defendant university, attended a party with a male freshman that lived in her dorm. The party was hosted by a resident assistant from another dorm. While at the party, the plaintiff became extremely intoxicated and vomited several times. The male freshman offered to walk the plaintiff home, and she accepted. They ultimately ended up in the male’s room where they engaged in sexual intercourse. The plaintiff vomited while in the male’s room.

Allegedly, the following day she reported that she would not have engaged in sexual activity with the male if she had been sober. The male was eventually charged with sexual assault. The plaintiff then filed a lawsuit against numerous parties, including the defendant university. Specifically, among other things, the plaintiff alleged the defendant was negligent for failing to protect her from the assault. The defendant moved to have the plaintiff’s claims dismissed via summary judgment. The trial court granted the motion, and the plaintiff appealed.

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In many instances in which a person is harmed by a corporation, the person will be a citizen of one state, while the corporation will be recognized as a citizen of another state. Thus, in many cases in which a plaintiff seeks damages from a corporation, the case will either be filed in or removed to federal court. Simply because a case is filed in or removed to a federal court does not mean that the court can properly exercise jurisdiction over a matter, however. This was discussed in a recent Massachusetts case in which the District Court assessed whether it had sufficient grounds to exercise jurisdiction over the corporate defendant under the Massachusetts long-arm statute. If you sustained harm due to corporate negligence, it is prudent to meet with a skillful Massachusetts personal injury attorney to discuss what compensation you may be able to recover.

Factual Background

It is reported that the plaintiff’s decedent used the defendant’s cleaners and solvents for automobile parts throughout the duration of his career as a mechanic in Florida. He subsequently was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome and leukemia, which he ultimately died from. The plaintiff then filed a lawsuit against the defendant in Massachusetts state court, alleging the defendant knowingly sold products that contained carcinogens, and that the decedent’s exposure to those products ultimately resulted in his death. The defendant removed the case to the District Court and then filed a motion to dismiss. On review, the court denied the defendant’s motion.

Jurisdiction Under the Massachusetts Long-Arm Statute

For a court to exercise personal jurisdiction over a defendant, a plaintiff must first satisfy the Massachusetts Long-Arm Statute (the Statute). Under the Statute, a court may exercise personal jurisdiction over a company that has its principal place of business in Massachusetts or causes a tortious injury in Massachusetts, either directly or through an agent. A plaintiff alleging jurisdiction based on a tortious injury must demonstrate that a tortious act occurred in Massachusetts. A court evaluating where the harm occurred will assess whether the defendant’s contact’s within the state should be considered the first event in a chain of events that led to the plaintiff’s harm.

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Passengers of planes are not immune to injury, but when their injuries are caused by another party’s intentional or negligent act, it may not always be clear when and where their claims must be filed. This was demonstrated in a recent ruling issued by a Massachusetts district court, in which the court affirmed the dismissal of the plaintiff’s claims due to the plaintiff’s failure to file an action within the time constraints set forth under the Montreal Convention, which establishes the requirements for pursuing certain claims against airlines. If you were injured during a flight, it is advisable to speak to a skillful Massachusetts personal injury attorney regarding what steps you may be able to take to protect your interests.

Facts Regarding the Plaintiff’s Harm

It is reported that the plaintiff, a Massachusetts resident, embarked on a flight on a plane owned by the defendant airline. The flight departed from Boston and landed in London the following day. During the flight, a flight attendant accused the plaintiff of stealing luggage. Thus, without the plaintiff’s consent, his belongings were searched, and he was detained on the plane after it landed, and in the airport in London until it was determined he did not take the missing luggage.

Allegedly, approximately three years later, the plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the defendant in a Massachusetts court, which the defendant moved to the district court. The defendant then filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the plaintiff’s claims were governed exclusively by the Montreal Convention, and were therefore barred by the applicable statute of limitations. The district court agreed with the defendant’s reasoning, granting the motion. The plaintiff then appealed.

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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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