Articles Posted in Premises Liability

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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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Slip and fall accidents are a common cause of personal injury in Massachusetts. While a slip and fall accident can occur anywhere, some businesses, such as grocery stores and restaurants, experience a greater number of slip and fall accidents due to the increased likelihood of a by debris or liquid on the floor, causing a dangerous condition. As demonstrated in a recent Massachusetts appellate court case, regardless of where a fall occurs, a plaintiff seeking to recover damages in a slip and fall lawsuit must produce sufficient evidence to establish that the defendant could have prevented the plaintiff’s harm and, therefore, should be held liable for the plaintiff’s injuries. If you were injured in a slip and fall accident in Massachusetts, it is prudent to speak with an assertive Massachusetts slip and fall attorney to discuss what claims you may be able to pursue.

Facts and Procedure of the Case

It is reported that a surveillance video showed a child dropping a bottle on the floor of an aisle of the defendant’s grocery store. Approximately three minutes after the child dropped the bottle, the plaintiff fell in the same area. The plaintiff did not see anything on the floor prior to the fall, but after she fell, she observed a brown, sticky substance on the ground. The plaintiff sustained injuries to her shoulder, knee, and hip in the fall and subsequently filed a negligence claim against the defendant.

Allegedly, there was no evidence introduced at trial that the defendant had knowledge of the substance prior to the plaintiff’s fall, but its employees were trained to inspect the aisles for spills or other hazards, and if they discovered a spill how to prevent harm prior to when the spill was cleaned. A jury found in favor of the plaintiff, awarding her $50,000. The defendant appealed, arguing that the trial court erred in instructing the jury regarding constructive notice or mode of operation.

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In Massachusetts, the duty a property owner owes to visitors of the property depends in part on the status of the visitor. For example, property owners owe a minimal duty to trespassers as opposed to those lawfully permitted to enter the property. There is an exception for child trespassers, however, who are owed greater protection from harm. Recently, the Appeals Court of Massachusetts, Essex, discussed what duties property owners owe child trespassers, in a case in which a child was harmed after unlawfully entering a property. If you or your child were injured on another person’s property it is prudent to meet with a seasoned Massachusetts personal injury attorney as soon as possible to discuss your potential causes of action.

Facts of the Case and Procedural Background

Reportedly, the defendant owned an apartment complex that abutted railroad tracks. A fence separated the defendant’s property from the tracks, but there were large gaps and holes in the fence that adults and children used to pass through the property. The plaintiff alleged the defendant was aware that people used the holes and gaps in the fence to access the adjacent property but did not repair the fence.

It is alleged that the plaintiff, a thirteen-year-old girl, walked through the fence and over the railroad tracks with a friend to go to a nearby plaza to go shopping. On the way back from their shopping trip, the friend was struck by a train. The plaintiff attempted to perform CPR on the friend, but the friend died from her injuries.

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In Massachusetts, property owners generally have a duty to maintain their property in a reasonably safe condition for any lawful visitors. There are exceptions to the general rule, however, such as when the harm presented by a dangerous condition is open and obvious. Recently, the Appeals Court of Massachusetts discussed the open and obvious exception to a property owners’ duty to warn of hazardous conditions, in a case in which a child was injured while using a zip line. If you or your child were injured on someone else’s property, it is wise to meet with a seasoned Massachusetts personal injury attorney to discuss what you must prove to establish liability.

Factual Background

Allegedly, the older brother of the minor plaintiff spent the night at the home of the defendants. The next day, the minor plaintiff, who was six years old, accompanied his father to the home of the defendants to pick up his brother. When they arrived at the defendants’ home, the minor plaintiff noted a zip line in the backyard.

Reportedly, the minor plaintiff asked his father if he could use the zip line. The father lifted the minor plaintiff onto the zip line and guided him for a few feet and then let him go. The minor plaintiff fell shortly after that, sustaining multiple fractures. The minor plaintiff’s mother instituted a negligence claim against the defendants on behalf of the minor plaintiff, arguing that the zip line was unreasonably dangerous. The defendants filed a motion for summary judgment, which the trial court granted. The plaintiffs appealed. On appeal, the court affirmed.

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The law affords injured individuals the right to pursue claims against the person or entity that caused their harm, in a jurisdiction of their choosing. While in many cases a plaintiff’s jurisdictional choice will remain undisturbed, a plaintiff does not have an absolute right to dictate where an action will be heard. Rather, in cases where the defendant argues that jurisdiction is improper, the plaintiff must establish that the court can validly exercise personal jurisdiction over a defendant. Recently that United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts analyzed whether jurisdiction over an out of state defendant was proper under the Massachusetts long-arm statute, in a case in which the defendant was an out of state corporation. If you were injured by a company that is based in another state, you should consult a seasoned Massachusetts personal injury attorney to discuss the appropriate manner in which to pursue damages for your harm.

Facts of the Accident

It is alleged that the plaintiff, who is a resident of Massachusetts, was vacationing in Florida, at a resort owned by the defendant, when she was injured in a scooter accident. The defendant does not own or lease any property in Massachusetts or have any offices or employees in Massachusetts and is not registered as a foreign corporation in Massachusetts. The plaintiff then filed a lawsuit against the defendant in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts. The defendant moved to dismiss the plaintiff’s complaint, arguing the court lacked personal jurisdiction over the defendant. The court granted the defendant’s motion, and the plaintiff appealed.

Massachusetts Long-Arm Statute

The Massachusetts long-arm statute, Mass. Gen. L. c. 223A, § 3, permits a court to exercise personal jurisdiction over a person or company who directly or indirectly conducts business in Massachusetts if the alleged cause of action arises out of the business conducted in Massachusetts. The first prong of the long-arm statute can be met by showing the defendant engaged in the purposeful solicitation of business from the residents of Massachusetts, while the second prong requires a plaintiff to show that “but for” such solicitation, she or he would not have suffered harm.
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Under Massachusetts law, property owners owe a duty to anyone that legally enters the property to maintain the property in a safe condition. When a property owner fails to comply with its duty and allows foreign objects to remain on the floor, it may cause a slip and fall accident. The Appeals Court of Massachusetts recently analyzed what evidence a person injured in a slip and fall accident caused by debris must produce to prove the property owner had constructive notice of the condition, in a case in which the plaintiff reportedly fell due to gum on a stairway. If you were injured in a slip and fall accident in Massachusetts you should meet with a proficient Massachusetts personal injury attorney to discuss what evidence you need to prove liability for your harm.

Facts of the Case

Reportedly, the plaintiff suffered injuries when she stepped on chewing gum and fell down a flight of stairs in the defendant’s building. She described the gum, which was stuck to the bottom of her shoe, as gray, black, and dirty. She subsequently filed a lawsuit against the defendant, alleging the defendant negligently failed to clean, inspect, and maintain the stairway. The defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, which the court granted. The plaintiff then appealed.

Constructive Notice Under Massachusetts Law

Under Massachusetts law, it is well established that a property owner is liable for injuries sustained on its property if the property owner knew or should know of conditions on the property that create an unreasonable risk of harm, and that invitees will either not discover the condition, but fails to protect invitees from the condition despite this knowledge. In cases involving slip and falls, the first element is met if the property owner caused the foreign substance to be on the floor, had actual knowledge of its presence, or if the substance had been on the floor so long that the property owner should have constructive notice of its existence.
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In Massachusetts, business owners generally have an obligation to make their premises safe for visitors and can be held liable for any injuries caused by a dangerous condition on the property. There are some exceptions to the general rule, however, that permit business owners to avoid liability even if a person is injured in an accident caused by an unsafe condition on the business’s property. The United States Court of Appeals, First Circuit recently discussed one of these exceptions, in a case in which it found the business owner was not liable for a contractor’s harm, where the harm was caused by the condition the contractor was hired to remedy. If you were injured in an accident while you were visiting a business, it is prudent to meet with a trusted Massachusetts personal injury attorney to discuss whether you may be able to recover damages for your harm from the business owner.

Factual Scenario

It is alleged that the plaintiff worked for a cleaning company that was hired by the defendant car dealership to clean the dealership. The contract between the defendant and the cleaning company specified that the cleaning company was required to scrub all the service floors six times a week with a degreasing product. On the day of the alleged incident, the plaintiff was working at the defendant dealership. At one point, he walked around a pallet when he lost his balance and fell.

Reportedly, after the plaintiff fell, he observed an accumulation of oil on the floor by the pallet. After the fall, he continued to clean the dealership floors, including the area where he fell. It was ultimately revealed that the plaintiff suffered a significant knee injury in the fall. He subsequently filed a lawsuit against the defendant, asserting claims of negligence and failure to warn. The defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that the condition was open and obvious. The court granted the defendant’s motion, noting that there is no duty to protect a plaintiff from a danger that the plaintiff was hired to cure. The plaintiff appealed.

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In Massachusetts, property owners are expected to maintain their property in a relatively safe condition. The duties imposed on property owners apply regardless of whether the owner is an individual or business. Even if the injured party can prove he or she was injured on a person or entity’s property, however, the injured party may be denied damages if an exception to the general rule applies. For example, as discussed in a recent case decided by the Appeals Court of Massachusetts, under certain circumstances a property owner that permits people to use its property for recreational purposes can avoid liability. If you suffered injuries in a recreational facility it is prudent to meet with a skillful Massachusetts personal injury attorney to discuss the circumstances under which you were injured and your potential claims for pursuing damages.

Factual Background of the Plaintiff’s Harm

Allegedly, the plaintiff was at the defendant indoor sports facility, watching her son play dek hockey. When she was leaving the bleachers after the game, she fell and suffered a torn ligament in her knee. She sued the defendant, alleging that it negligently failed to properly secure the bleachers. The defendant filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that it was insulated from liability by G.L. c 21, § 17C, which is known as the recreational use statute. The trial court granted the defendant’s motion, dismissing the case. The plaintiff appealed.

Immunity Under the Recreational Use Statute

Under the recreational use statute, landowners are protected from liability for negligence claims brought by people who suffered injuries while using the land for recreational purposes with no charge. In the subject case, it was undisputed that the plaintiff did not pay a fee to use the defendant’s facilities. The plaintiff argued, however, that she paid an indirect fee for the use of the defendant facility, through payments made to her son’s dek hockey league to allow him to play in the defendant facility.

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There are drug stores throughout Massachusetts that people visit regularly to fill their prescriptions and purchase health and grooming implements. Drug stores are like any other retail establishment, in that they have a duty to make sure their premises are reasonably safe for any customers shopping in the store. The United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts recently addressed what a plaintiff must prove to recover damages following a slip and fall accident in a drug store. If you suffered injuries in a slip and fall accident in a retail store it is essential to consult a seasoned Massachusetts personal injury attorney to assess whether you may be able to seek compensation for your harm.

Factual Background of the Case

Reportedly, the plaintiff was shopping at the defendant drug store when she slipped and fell on a lip balm ball that was on the floor. She subsequently filed a lawsuit against the defendant, asserting a negligence claim. The defendant filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings, arguing that the plaintiff’s complaint failed to allege that the defendant owed plaintiff a duty or breached any duty owed. The plaintiff did not respond to the motion. The court subsequently granted the motion, dismissing the plaintiff’s claim.

Retail Store Liability for Plaintiff’s Harm

In Massachusetts, a retail store may be held liable for injuries suffered because of a dangerous condition on the premises that the store did not create, but only if the plaintiff can show that the store knew of or should have known of the dangerous condition, and that the condition posed an unreasonable risk of harm. Further, the plaintiff must show that the store could not reasonably have expected the plaintiff to discover the dangerous condition or protect himself or herself from harm and that the store failed to use reasonable care to protect the plaintiff.

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Slip and fall accidents are one of the most common causes of personal injury. When a person is injured in a slip and fall accident at a business, the person may be able to recover compensation from the business owner for any harm the person suffered. To successfully prove the business owner should be held liable, however, the injured party must prove that a dangerous condition caused the fall, and the business owner knew or should have known of the condition. A Massachusetts appellate court recently analyzed what constitutes sufficient evidence to prove a business owner should have had notice of a dangerous condition in a slip and fall case. If you were recently injured in a slip and fall accident it is essential to retain a trusted Massachusetts personal injury attorney to represent you in your pursuit of damages from the business owner.

The Slip and Fall Accident

Allegedly, the plaintiff and her daughter stopped at a fast food restaurant on August 14, 2014. It was raining heavily that day, and the plaintiff and her daughter parked by the front entrance of the restaurant. The plaintiff was holding her daughter’s hand and entered the restaurant via the front door, walking in front of her daughter. As soon as she entered the restaurant, the plaintiff’s right leg flew forward, and she fell onto her left knee. She then noticed there was water everywhere and the water had pooled in a three to four-foot puddle on the floor. While there was a mat and yellow cone by the side entrance, the plaintiff stated that there were none by the front entrance.

It is reported that the plaintiff filed a negligence claim against the defendant restaurant. The case proceeded to a bench trial, during which the defendant filed a motion for involuntary dismissal pursuant to Mass. R. Civ. P. 41(b)(2) which the court denied. The court ultimately found in favor of the plaintiff, after which the defendant appealed. On appeal, the defendant did not dispute that the plaintiff suffered injuries but argued that as the plaintiff did not produce evidence as to how long the water had been on the floor, she failed to establish that the defendant should have known of the water.

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