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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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It is not uncommon for people to allow friends or family members to borrow their cars. What may seem like a simple favor can unintentionally expose people to liability, however. In other words, if the person borrowing the vehicle is subsequently involved in a collision, the owner of the vehicle may be deemed liable for negligent entrustment. Merely lending a car to a person is not sufficient to prove a negligent entrustment claim, though, as demonstrated in a recent Massachusetts ruling. If you were injured in a car accident with a driver using a borrowed car, you might be able to pursue claims against multiple parties, and you should speak to a knowledgeable Massachusetts personal injury lawyer as soon as possible to determine your options

The Underlying Accident

It is determined that the plaintiff was involved in a car accident with the defendant driver. She suffered severe injuries in the accident and ultimately filed a lawsuit against the defendant driver and the owner of the vehicle she was operating at the time of the accident, who was her father-in-law. Specifically, the plaintiff filed a negligent entrustment claim against the defendant owner, arguing that he knew or should have known she could not safely operate the vehicle. The defendant owner then filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that the plaintiff would be unable to prove her negligent entrustment claim and, therefore, it should be dismissed.

Proving a Negligent Entrustment Claim

In Massachusetts, negligent entrustment is comprised of three elements. First, the plaintiff must show that the owner of a vehicle lent it to a person who was unfit or incompetent to drive, and the person’s incompetence caused the plaintiff’s injuries. The plaintiff must then show that the owner either generally or specifically granted the person permission to drive the vehicle. Finally, the plaintiff has to prove that the owner possessed actual knowledge of the incompetence of the driver. Continue reading →

Massachusetts employees who are hurt while working are often eligible to recover compensation. There are certain prerequisites that must be met for harm to be compensable, however, and an employee that cannot demonstrate an injury is work-related may be denied benefits. Recently, a Massachusetts court addressed the issue of whether harm is compensable if neither the injury-inducing accident nor the signing of the employment contract occurred in the Commonwealth. If you work for a Massachusetts company and were hurt at work, it is in your best interest to speak to a seasoned Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney to determine whether you may be owed damages.

The Plaintiff’s Harm

It is reported that the plaintiff responded to the defendant’s advertisement for truck drivers that as posted in a Massachusetts newspaper. He then attended training at the defendant’s headquarters in Pennsylvania and signed an employment contract while he was there. Once he began working for the defendant, he delivered cargo throughout the northeastern states, including Massachusetts. He also made over one hundred trips to or from Massachusetts, which was more time than he spent in any other state.

Allegedly, the plaintiff suffered an injury while delivering cargo in Maine. He filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits pursuant to the Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act (the Act). An administrative judge found that he suffered work-related harm but dismissed his claim regardless on the basis that Massachusetts was not the place where the plaintiff was hired or injured, and therefore the court lacked jurisdiction. The case went through numerous rounds of appeals and was ultimately presented to the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts.

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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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When people apply for Social Security Disability benefits, they will typically undergo examinations that result in the issuance of residual capacity forms (RFC), which describe their abilities to work and the extent to which they are deemed disabled. If an administrative law judge does not grant an RFC proper weight or renders a decision that is inconsistent with it, it can adversely impact a claimant’s outcome. Recently, a Massachusetts court discussed how RFCs weigh into administrative law judge’s decisions in social security disability benefits claims, in a matter in which the claimant argued her claim was unjustly denied. If you cannot work due to a disability, you may be able to recover social security benefits, and it is advisable to speak with a trusted Massachusetts Social Security Disability attorney about your options.

The Claimant’s Case

It is reported that the claimant, who is 52-years-old, has a high school education and became disabled in October 2016. She was unable to engage in any substantially gainful activity since she was injured in a fall accident, which is when her disability began. Prior to becoming disabled, she worked as a respiratory therapist, which is listed as a medium exertion and skilled position.

Allegedly, in July 2017, the claimant filed an application seeking social security disability benefits. Based on numerous examinations, she was found to be capable of sedentary work, and in consideration of her age, RFC, and education level, it was concluded that she could engage in other work. Thus, she was deemed not disabled and denied benefits. She appealed. Continue reading →

Many hospitals receive federal funding. Thus, if an employee of a federally funded hospital commits medical malpractice, any claims for damages must typically comply with the requirements of the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA). For example, the plaintiff must set forth the evidence in support of the claim that a federal employee committed malpractice as well as the sum certain that constitutes the plaintiff’s damages. In a recent medical malpractice case filed in a Massachusetts federal court, the court explained what factual information is sufficient to set forth a sum certain as required to proceed with a claim. If you or a loved one suffered harm due to negligent medical care, it is advisable to speak to a diligent Massachusetts personal injury attorney to evaluate what claims you may be able to pursue against your provider.

Factual Background

It is reported that the plaintiff’s decedent, who suffered from an irregular heartbeat, was a patient at the defendant hospital, which was federally funded. The doctors employed by the hospital failed to provide the decedent with a proper evaluation, diagnosis, or care, and she ultimately passed away due to her negligent care. The decedent was in her mid-twenties at the time of her death and left behind a young son and her parents, who filed a medical malpractice claim against the defendant pursuant to the FTCA.

Allegedly, the United States was then substituted as the defendant, due to the fact that the defendant hospital was federally funded. The defendant moved to dismiss the plaintiff’s claims for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, arguing that the plaintiff failed to set forth a sum certain in the administrative claim she filed prior to filing the lawsuit, as required under the FTCA.

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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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People typically rely on their health care providers to be competent and provide them with adequate care. Sadly, though, many doctors fail to exercise sound judgment when treating their patients, and their negligence causes considerable harm. People injured by medical malpractice can recover damages, though, if they can prove that their physicians deviated from the standard of care and that the departure ultimately caused their harm. What a plaintiff must prove to establish causation in a medical malpractice case was the topic of a recent Massachusetts opinion, in a case in which the plaintiff alleged the defendant’s shortcomings led to his wife’s death. If you or a loved one suffered harm because of inadequate medical care, it is smart to meet with a seasoned Massachusetts personal injury lawyer to assess your possible claims.

The Decedent’s Care

Reportedly, the decedent treated with the defendants for symptoms of perimenopause. She was prescribed a progesterone cream but was not advised of the risks associated with using it. The defendant admitted she did not advise the decedent that the cream increased the likelihood of developing blood clots because she did not believe that to be a risk. The decedent used the cream for three years and then began complaining of shortness of breath. She was ultimately diagnosed with a pulmonary embolism and chronic pulmonary hypertension.

Allegedly, she underwent surgery to remove the blood clots from her lungs, but it was unsuccessful. She was then prescribed medication to address the clots, but that did not work either. She died four years later from complications of the disease when she was forty-three years old. Prior to her death, she instituted a lawsuit against the defendants, alleging their negligence caused her harm. The case proceeded to trial, and while the jury found that the defendants were negligent in certain respects, it did not believe the negligence was the proximate cause of the decedent’s harm. Following a verdict in favor of the defendant, the plaintiff appealed. Continue reading →