Verdicts & Settlements

$2,400,000.00
Motorcycle accident at construction site

$1,800,000.00
Child burned in basement explosion

$1,675,000.00
Wrongful death claim against a truck company

$350,000.00
Rear-end car accident with back injury

$260,000.00
Rear-end car accident with neck injury

$255,000.00
Trip and fall on defective brick walkway at fast food restaurant suffering a broken arm, elbow, and two teeth.

$250,000.00
Motorcycle accident with leg injury

$250,000.00
Injuries sustained from cutting down a tree on a friend’s property

$240,000.00
Post-traumatic stress disorder from viewing crane collapse at construction site

$195,000.00
Slip and fall on snow and ice

$190,000.00
Soy milk contamination

$165,000.00
Injuries sustained in MVA resulting in surgery

$155,000.00
Pedestrian police officer struck by drunk driver

$150,000.00
MVA claim for 8 yr old boy against a truck company

$137,500.00
Horse riding accident with multiple injuries

$125,000.00
Tractor trailer accident with minor cognitive injuries

$120,000.00
MVA involving vehicle operated by hospital employee

$112,500.00
Fell through hole in floor of construction site suffering knee injury

$100,000.00
Motor vehicle accident resulting in surgery

$100,000.00
Wife struck at mailbox by husband turning car into driveway

$100,000.00
Trip and fall due to raised asphalt in crosswalk of grocery store

$100,000.00
Police officer injured in fall from unguarded landing

$100,000.00
Police officer injured elbow breaking up bar fight

$100,000.00
Police officer injured in rear-end motor vehicle accident by intoxicated driver

$80,000.00
Dog attack resulting in surgery and permanent scarring

$75,000.00
Passenger on coach bus injured after falling from seat and suffering wrist injury

$75,000.00
Child suffered windpipe laceration requiring surgery after swallowing small toy

$65,000.00
Dog attack resulting in surgery and permanent scarring

$60,000.00
Trip and fall over cables running across floor of restaurant

$500,000.00
Death following Achilles tendon surgery
(Workers' Compensation)

$325,000.00
Gas worker sustained back injury requiring multiple surgeries (Workers' Compensation)

$300,000.00
Certified nurse’s aide sustained back injury requiring multiple surgeries (Workers' Comp)

$200,000.00
Work-related heart attack
(Workers' Compensation)

$200,000.00
Electrical shock and burns (plus third party recovery) (Workers' Compensation)

$150,000.00
Farmer suffered broken ankle
(Workers' Compensation)

$150,000.00
Work-related motor vehicle accident with shoulder injury (Workers' Compensation)

$125,000.00
Grocery clerk suffered back strain
(Workers' Compensation)

$125,000.00
Clerk who was sexually harassed by supervisor
(Workers' Compensation)

$125,000.00
PTSD following gas explosion
(Workers' Compensation)

$125,000.00
Bus driver developed PTSD after hitting pedestrian (Workers' Compensation)

$125,000.00
Registered nurse with latex allergy
(Workers' Compensation)

$125,000.00
Fall aggravated pre-existing multiple sclerosis
(Workers' Compensation)

$112,500.00
Utility worker injured shoulder
(Workers' Compensation)

$112,500.00
Fall aggravated pre-existing arthritis
(Workers' Compensation)

$ 65,000.00
Clerk developed bilateral CTS from repetitive keyboard use (Workers' Compensation)

$ 65,000.00
Back injury from repetitive lifting
(Workers' Compensation)

$ 50,000.00
Shoulder injury from slip and fall outside of work (Workers' Compensation)

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Many people avoid thinking about what will happen to their property and assets after their death, and ultimately die without a will to determine how their estate will be disbursed. Family members of an individual who dies intestate may not see the necessity in determining how the estate should be divided and may delay in taking any action to raise an estate and appoint a personal representative. The failure to take prompt action when a person passes away can have a damaging effect on your ability to control the estate’s assets, however. A recent Massachusetts estate planning decision held that you waive certain rights if you do not act in a timely manner.

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In Bennett v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, the Superior Court of Massachusetts defined what rights a limited personal representative has with regards to a decedent’s estate.  Specifically, the court addressed whether a personal representative who is granted limited authority under the Uniform Probate Code (UPC) has standing to pursue tort actions that are an asset of the decedent’s estate. In Bennet, the Plaintiff’s father died on March 7, 2014. Section 3-108 of the UPC provides that no testacy or appointment proceeding may take place more than three years after a decedent’s death. If no personal representative has been appointed within three years of a decedent’s death, section 3-108(4) of the UPC allows for a personal representative to be named, but only for the limited purpose of determining successors to the estate. Section 3-108(4) specifically states, however, the representative does not have the right to possess any estate assets. Plaintiff was appointed the limited representative of the estate, pursuant to section 3-108(4), on July 26, 2017.

Plaintiff subsequently brought claims of wrongful death and civil conspiracy against the Defendant, as the limited personal representative of the estate of her deceased father.  The Defendant filed a motion to dismiss the Complaint, arguing the Plaintiff’s appointment as a personal representative of the estate under section 3-108(4) of the UPC did not grant her the authority to pursue a wrongful death claim or any tort claim that belonged to the decedent and became a part of the decedent’s estate upon his death.

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Bullying is a persistent and ever growing problem throughout the schools in our nation, including schools in Massachusetts. While generally bullying is thought of as causing emotional harm, it often results in physical harm as well. Parents may be unsure who should be held accountable when their child suffers a personal injury due to bullying. Recently, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court held that public defendants in Massachusetts personal injury cases are protected from liability for negligently failing to prevent the bullying and physical assault of a child.Legal News Gavel

In Cormier v. City of Lynn, a classmate pushed the child victim down a flight of stairs. The fall caused a spinal injury that ultimately resulted in the victim’s permanent paralysis. The victim’s parents brought a lawsuit against several defendants, including the City of Lynn, the school district and their public employees. The victim’s parents alleged that the victim had been subjected to constant bullying over the school year, and that his mother had reported harassing acts to the school officials on several occasions. The victim had reported acts of bullying and harassment to his teachers and school administrators as well. The victim’s parents alleged the school negligently failed to enforce its own anti-bullying policies and procedures.

The City of Lynn, school district and public employees filed a motion to dismiss arguing the claims against them were barred by the Massachusetts Torts Claim Act. The motion to dismiss was granted and affirmed on appeal. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court granted the victim’s parents’ motion for further review on whether the Massachusetts Torts Claims Act barred them from bringing claims against the public defendants for negligently failing to prevent the victim from being bullied.

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Under the Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act (the Act) an individual who suffers a workplace injury is entitled to benefits. While obtaining benefits due to a covered injury is generally a relatively straightforward process, it can become complicated if your employer is unable to provide benefits. Generally, employers maintain insurance policies that provide coverage for workers’ compensation claims, but if your employer is self-insured and becomes insolvent it may not initially be clear who is responsible for your benefits. Recently, the Appeals Court of Massachusetts addressed the issue of who bears the responsibility of paying benefits when an employer becomes insolvent, and ultimately held that under Massachusetts Workers Compensation law a reinsurer is required to pay workers’ compensation benefits if a self-insured employer’s surety bond is exhausted.Legal News Gavel

In Janocha, the facts were undisputed. The employee suffered a workplace injury, which resulted in a permanent and total incapacitation for work. At the time of the employee’s injury the employer was self-insured, and held both a surety bond with a bond holder and a reinsurance policy with a reinsurer, pursuant to the terms of the Act. The reinsurance policy contained a retention provision, which stated the reinsurer would provide indemnification for covered losses once the benefits paid for a covered loss reached $400,000. The employer paid the employee’s benefits directly from the time of the employee’s injury until the employer’s bankruptcy in 2007, after which the bond holder issued payments directly to the employee. In 2012, the bond was exhausted and no further payments were made to the employee; however, the $400,000 retention limit had not been reached.

The employee filed a claim against the reinsurer, seeking reinstatement of his benefits. Following a hearing, an administrative judge held that once the employer’s bond was exhausted the employer was uninsured under the terms of the act and, therefore, the workers’ compensation trust fund was responsible for providing the employee’s workers’ compensation benefits until the payments reached $400,000. The trust fund appealed. On appea,l the workers’ compensation board reversed the administrative judge’s ruling, finding that the provisions of the Act stated the trust would only be the responsible party when the employer was uninsured on the date of the injury. As such, the board found the reinsurer to be responsible for paying benefits directly to the employee. The board further ruled that the reinsurer must act as a guarantee of a self-insured employer’s ability to pay benefits, and found the retention limit was void, as it conflicted with the reinsurer’s statutory obligation to provide benefits to the employee. The reinsurer appealed to the Appeals Court of Massachusetts.

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Generally speaking, a property owner does not have a duty to prevent dangerous or harmful acts of third parties. Under Massachusetts personal injury law there is an exception to the general rule, in that a property owner can be held liable for ignoring criminal activity it knew or should have known was occurring on the premises. In Charles Northrup v. National Amusements, the Appeals Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts recently clarified that a property owner will only be liable for a criminal act occurring on its property if it had knowledge of prior similar acts.Legal News Gavel

In Northrup, the Plaintiff was sitting in his vehicle in the parking lot of the Defendant’s movie theater, when he was stabbed by an individual suffering from schizophrenia and other mental illnesses. Plaintiff subsequently sued the Defendant for negligence, alleging the Defendant’s failure to provide police protection on the premises caused his injuries. The Defendant filed a Motion for Summary Judgment, arguing the stabbing was not foreseeable. The trial court granted Defendant’s Motion and Plaintiff appealed. On appeal, the Appeals Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts affirmed.

The court noted that while police reports indicated there were thirty incidents at the movie theater in the three years prior to the incident, only three of the incidents resulted in an arrest, and only one incident involved a violent act. The remainder of the incidents involved theft and other property crimes. Additionally, the internal incident reports written by the Defendant indicated there were seventy-one incidents in the three-year period prior to the stabbing. While most of the incident reports did not indicate any criminal activity, four of the reports indicated violent acts, including one report of an incident in which rocks were thrown at children when they were leaving the theater.

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Insurers can raise an “affirmative defense” during the proceedings related to a claim for Massachusetts workers’ compensation benefits.  One such defense is allowed by the Worker’s Compensation Act, which prevents someone from receiving benefits when they’ve rejected treatment that can lessen her or his suffering through reasonable remedies and operations available through the medical profession.  The injured needn’t try every possible medical procedure, just those where it appears there is substantial gain to be had, which do not subject the injured to unusual risk or danger. 

Recently, the Massachusetts Reviewing Board looked at whether an affirmative defense was appropriately raised and considered.  The employee claiming § 34 temporary total incapacity benefits in this action was a vending Legal News Gavelmachine route delivery driver.  He worked for over twenty years in this position as part of his forty-year work history.  His job involved repetitive motions carrying heavy boxes of coins weighing up to 100 pounds.  In 2015, he injured various locations on his right arm after falling down steps at work.  The deliveryman’s employer began the payment of § 34 temporary total incapacity benefits, and the employee has not worked since. 

After ten months, the insurer filed to modify or stop the § 34 benefits after a medical report from the insurer’s examining physician.  This report relayed that the employee was able to return to light work with limited lifting.  The employee filed for permanent and total incapacity benefits.  The claims moved onto a §10A conference where the judge granted the motion for permanent benefits and ended the insurer’s motion to discontinue.

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The Commonwealth’s Supreme Court reviewed a new issue recently in a Massachusetts wrongful death law suit.  The legal question was whether a pharmacy was required by law to notify the prescribing physician after the patient’s health insurer advises the pharmacy that it needs a “prior authorization form” filled out by the physician.  The decedent was prescribed Topamax to treat her epilepsy.  The medication controlled her life-threatening seizures.  Her insurer paid for this prescription twice in the months before her nineteenth birthday, but refused to do so afterward because it did not have a prior authorization form for an insured who is older than eighteen.  The woman’s family made multiple attempts to obtain the medication, but the pharmacy refused to fill it.  The family could not afford the medication without insurance and the woman died from a fatal seizure that year.

The woman’s mother and executor brought an action for wrongful death and punitive damages against the pharmacy, her daughter’s neurologist, and the neurological practice.  The mother testified at trial that the pharmacy repeatedly told her daughter and other family members the pharmacy would notify her doctor about the need for prior authorization, Legal News Gavelbut the physician and his practice denied receiving notice.  The trial court granted the pharmacy’s motion for the summary judgment on the legal basis that the pharmacy had no legal duty to the decedent to notify her doctor and the practice about the need for prior authorization.

Prior authorization was required by MassHealth to establish the medical effectiveness and necessity of the medicine.  This was to ensure there were no other cost-effective options to use, or generic drugs.  The form was two pages long and took less than ten minutes to complete. It provided information about the diagnosis, the prescribed medication, basic patient  information ,the doctor’s information, and the prescriber’s signature.  The form was accepted only by the prescribing physician.  Pharmacies and patients were not allowed to complete the form.  The insurer only told the pharmacy because it was the pharmacy that submitted the claim for coverage. 

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The owner and manager of an apartment building attempted to extend the umbrella of immunity under the Tort Claims Act, G.L. c. 258 Sec. 2 to avoid liability for a serious injury Massachusetts slip and fall accident.  A resident of a public housing development fell while descending the stairs in his apartment building.  He filed suit against the city’s housing authority, the company that owned the property, and the company that managed the property.  The owner and manager moved for partial summary judgment, asserting they were public employees.  The motion was denied and the defendants appealed.

The Massachusetts Torts Claims Act arose out of a case law precedent known as “sovereign immunity”.  This legal concept shielded the government from liability if someone was injured as a result of the negligence stemming from a governmental agent.  The Massachusetts legislators created the Tort Claims Act to delineate when this privilege applied and when exceptions to this privilege occurred.  While the Act increases the ability for an injured person to Legal News Gavelfind legal relief, public employees are shielded from liability.  The defendants in this suit argued they were public employees as “controlled affiliates” for a housing authority apartment complex.  The controlled affiliate of a local housing authority is an entity with the power to own and manage residential real property which is within the legal control of the housing authority.  The trial judge found controlled affiliates do not fit within the scope of the definition of “public employee” found within the Tort Claims Act. 

The defendants came into their respective positions in 2009, when the housing authority realized the rehabilitation project costs exceeded the public funds available to them.  The project was partially financed through five other sources, including an equity investment seeking to take advantage of the Federal Low Income Housing Tax Credit program.  The tax credits are available to investors providing funds for qualified low income housing projects with rent restrictions and a minimum share of rental units for moderate and low income households.  The housing authority cannot utilize these tax credits, so in order to keep outside investors on board, they “sell” the use of these credits and transfer the ownership of the housing project to a “controlled affiliate”.  The apartment complex in this suit was transferred over to the owner, giving him 99.99 percent ownership interest and the manager, giving him .001 per cent ownership interest. 

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A Massachusetts car accident resulted in an estate filing suit against a convenience store chain after a speeding driver ran into the deceased as he crashed into the front of the store.  The deceased’s husband and executor alleged the company had experienced several front-of-store “car strikes” and knew of the risks cars had to its store.  The estate claimed bollards or other barriers could have been erected along the walkway and entrance to the parking lot.  The estate argued this would have prevented a car traveling at high speed from injuring anyone, particularly the deceased in this suit.  A jury agreed and awarded the estate over $32 Million in compensatory damages, eventually reduced by the court to $20 million; and Gas Station$10 in punitive damages, which was waived since it did not meet the $5000 minimum.

The convenience store chain appealed, arguing it should have been granted a new trial after it improperly admitted an internal report about 485 prior car strikes at other stores.  The chain believed each accident referred to should have been subjected to a “rigorous” review to determine whether or not it was substantially similar to the accident in this suit.  At trial and during the appeal, the chain contended the accident was random and unforeseeable.  In response, the estate looked for reinstatement of the $32 million compensatory damages award, asserting the remittitur of the damages was improper. 

The location of the events was similar to other property owned by the chain gas station and convenience stores.  The store was surrounded by parking spaces for those stopping into the store as well as gas pumps.  No barriers or devices were set along the walkway.  The store was located at the “corner” of a three-way intersection that did not meet at 90 degree angles. Two of the three entrances to the property required drivers to slow down to make a turn and enter.  One did not.  This entrance allowed drivers to come straight from the apex of the intersection onto the property without reducing speed or turning.  The situation was dangerous enough for a store employee to complain to two separate managers, but nothing was done to alter the set-up of the property. 

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Lawsuits against government entities used to be very difficult to pursue.  For a long time, government entities were protected by sovereign immunity, a doctrine founded on the idea the “king”  could not be bothered with litigation.  Eventually, the Commonwealth’s legislature changed the reliance on this precedent by enacting the Tort Claims Act, G. L. c. 258, in 1978.  This allowed many more opportunities for lawsuits when employees of state or local government act in a negligent manner while performing work for the city or state government.  However, this statute still provides Legal News Gavelprotection to the government through exceptions for allowed claims.  G. L. c. 258, § 10(j), inserted by St. 1993, c. 495, § 57 bars claims asserting a government employee acted, or failed to act, to prevent or diminish harm, including violent or tortious conduct of a third person, if it did not originate from a public employer or public employee. 

In a recent Massachusetts personal injury action, 17-P-230, the Massachusetts Appeals Court considered a student’s appeal from the dismissal of his negligence action against the school.  The student was injured during field hockey practice by another teammate, who struck her with a field hockey stick. The injury occurred during a drill supervised by a volunteer coach, but not the head coach.  The head coach was on the field but was not actively supervising the drill.  No warnings or techniques were provided to the student athletes to avoid injury.   The student was struck in the face, losing consciousness and two teeth.  The head coach did not implement concussion protocol, nor did he take any steps to stay with her and provide care.  As a result, the student had to have dental surgery and suffered academically due to a concussion.  The student and her parents filed suit, alleging the school failed to properly train and supervise the coaches and other athletes who were present during the incident, failed to provide adequate post-injury monitoring and assistance, and failed to create and use an academic reentry plan after the injuries.  The trial court granted the defendant’s motion to dismiss, finding G. L. c. 258, § 10(j) precluded suit against the school, a government entity. 

On appeal, the student and her parents argued the school caused the original action when the head coach allowed an untrained volunteer coach to supervise a new drill and left the field unsupervised with inadequate instructions.  The appellate court found the behavior to be omissions rather than affirmative actions, as required by the statute.  The court assessed the plaintiffs’ assertion to be an attempt to hold the school liable for failing to ensure the student’s safety during field hockey practice.

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The Massachusetts Appeals Court affirmed a verdict holding the son and power of attorney of the decedent accountable for a million dollars after he removed his father’s girlfriend as the Legal News Gavelbeneficiary of several accounts.  The long-time girlfriend of 38 years and the defendant son were to both benefit from the division of his estate.  The father had named his girlfriend and his son as the beneficiaries and joint tenants on several bank accounts and executed a will in 2013 dividing the estate nearly evenly between the girlfriend and the son. 

Prior to the execution of the will, the girlfriend provided care for the estate owner from 2005 to 2013 after a stroke.  His health was in a general state of decline until 2013, when it became significantly worse following a diagnosis of Stage IV pancreatic cancer.  The girlfriend sought help from the son, since she was unable to care for the father.  She provided the son several financial records, and the father named his son as power of attorney.

After this occurred, the son began transferring several of the bank accounts to his name and his father’s name only.  Some of these transactions included his father, but others did not.  Evidence presented during the trial supported the girlfriend’s claim that the owner of the estate did not know about some of these transfers.  The son also sought new counsel to help prepare a new will for his father.  A second will was executed, leaving the entire estate to the son, less than a month after the first will was executed.

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