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Articles Posted in Personal 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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In Massachusetts, whether a party has a duty to prevent harm depends, in part, on the relationship between the injured person and the party, but in other instances, the duty arises out of a party’s knowledge of the risk of harm. For example, universities do not have a general duty to protect students from self-harm. A university may have a duty, however, to prevent a student from committing suicide in certain instances. Recently, the Superior Court of Massachusetts elucidated when a university may be deemed negligent for failing to prevent a student from committing suicide. If you or your loved one suffered harm because of the negligent acts or failure to act of another party, it is advisable to speak with an experienced Massachusetts personal injury attorney regarding your potential causes of action.

Factual Background

Allegedly, the plaintiff’s decedent was enrolled at the defendant university in Boston. In April of his freshman year, he attempted suicide. The defendant university learned of the decedent’s attempt and transferred him to a hospital. After he was discharged, he met with the defendant university employee about his treatment going forward. The decedent then entered into a contract with the Dean of Freshman Students, which stated that the decedent would be permitted to remain on campus if he engaged in treatment. The decedent met with the defendant university employee on two occasions, where he expressed skepticism over the treatment.  He was not in treatment from May to September, however. In September, the decedent committed suicide.

It is reported that the decedent’s father filed a lawsuit against the university and several individuals employed by the university, asserting that they had a duty to take measures to prevent the decedent from committing self-harm and that the duty was breached. The defendants filed a motion to dismiss. Upon review, the court denied the motion.

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If a person sustains injuries at work, he or she may be able to pursue benefits from his or her employer via a workers’ compensation claim. While in some cases a person may be able to seek damages through a personal injury lawsuit instead of a workers’ compensation claim, if the harm arose out the person’s employment, the Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act (MCWA) provides the person’s sole remedy. Recently, the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts analyzed whether the intentional acts of a supervisor that harmed an employee were considered incidental to the employee’s employment, so as to bar a personal injury claim. If you suffered harm at work, it is in your best interest to speak with a trusted Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney to discuss what damages you may be owed.

Facts Regarding the Plaintiff’s Harm

It is alleged that the plaintiff worked for the defendant as a mechanic. The plaintiff’s work schedule changed, after which the plaintiff’s supervisor began subjecting the plaintiff to a hostile work environment. Specifically, the plaintiff was harassed for his religious beliefs, denied accommodations, and accosted after he took a picture of the supervisor smoking, which was prohibited.

Reportedly, the plaintiff began experiencing symptoms of fatigue. He was restricted from working temporarily, but when he returned to work, the harassment continued. The plaintiff was then terminated, after which he filed a lawsuit against the defendant, alleging assault and battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and violation of his civil rights. The defendant filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the plaintiff’s claims were preempted by the MCWA.

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In many instances in which a Massachusetts resident suffers harm due to the negligence of a company, the company’s principal place of business is located in another state. As such, if the person files a lawsuit against the company in a Massachusetts court, an issue will arise as to whether Massachusetts can exercise jurisdiction over the company. Recently, the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts analyzed when a court is permitted to exercised jurisdiction over a foreign company in a slip and fall case that was ultimately transferred to a Rhode Island Court. If you were injured in an accident due to the negligence of an out of state defendant, it is sensible to meet with a  knowledgeable Massachusetts personal injury attorney regarding your options for pursuing damages.

Facts Regarding the Plaintiff’s Injury

It is alleged that the plaintiff, a Massachusetts resident, traveled to a hotel owned and operated by the defendant in Rhode Island to stay overnight prior to a flight to Florida from a nearby airport. The next morning, the plaintiff tripped and fell while she was leaving her hotel. She subsequently filed a lawsuit against the defendant in the Massachusetts Superior Court, alleging that the defendant’s negligence led to her fall and that the fall caused her to sustain severe injuries. The defendant removed the case to the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts, after which the defendant filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that there was no basis for Massachusetts to exercise jurisdiction over the plaintiff.

Exercising Personal Jurisdiction Over a Foreign Entity

When a defendant files a motion to dismiss due to lack of personal jurisdiction, the burden is on the plaintiff to show that jurisdiction is proper. Thus, the court will review the evidence in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. The plaintiff cannot rely on unsupported averments, however, but must set forth sufficient facts to show that jurisdiction is proper.

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Many sports and activities present an inherent risk of harm, and the people who engage in those activities are deemed to consent to the risk of the type of injury ordinarily caused by such activities. If a person engages in a reckless act during such an activity, though, they may potentially be held liable for the harm caused by the act. The appeals court of Massachusetts recently assessed the standard for imposing liability on a person for harm sustained during a sporting event, in a case in which a hockey player sustained significant injuries. If you sustained injuries due to the reckless acts of another person, it is in your best interest to consult an experienced Massachusetts personal injury attorney to discuss what compensation you may be owed.

Facts Surrounding the Plaintiff’s Injury

It is reported that the plaintiff was injured during a hockey game, that was held during a championship tournament.  The plaintiff, who was 17 years old, was checked into the boards by a player from the opposing team. It is disputed as to whether the hit was a charge, in violation of hockey rules. After the hit, the plaintiff fell to the ice and temporarily lost consciousness. While he was on the ice, his wrist was sliced by the blade of another player’s ice skate. The plaintiff subsequently suffered a partial permanent loss of his right hand, which was his dominant hand. He then filed a lawsuit against numerous defendants, including the player that struck him, alleging claims of recklessness and negligence. The defendants filed motions for summary judgment, which the court granted. The plaintiff appealed.

Liability for Harm Suffered During a Sporting Event

On appeal, the court noted that generally, issues of recklessness and negligence are issues for the jury, but when it is clear based upon the evidence of record that no rational interpretation would permit a finding of negligence, judgment in favor of the defendants is proper. The court stated that with regards to liability arising out of an act committed during a sporting event, participants engaged in such events have a duty to refrain from engaging in reckless acts.

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