Committed to Justice in Boston and Beyond

Roughly three years ago, Danvers High School teacher Collen Ritzer was raped and murdered by a student. Her family recently filed suit in Essex County Superior Court against the town of Danvers, Massachusetts and the Danvers School Department. The Ritzer family seeks answers to numerous questions related to the horrific events resulting in their daughter’s death in October 2013. Sinks

Ritzer was 24 at the time of her death. She was in her second year teaching math at Danvers High School. Her assailant was a new student at the school, recently having moved from Tennessee to Danvers. He was a student in Ritzer’s freshman math class.

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The city of Meriden, Connecticut recently settled a lawsuit with a Massachusetts resident who alleged negligence by the city’s Animal Control following a 2012 dog attack. City officials did not reveal the full amount of the settlement, but over the summer, the plaintiff offered to settle the case for a whopping $175,000. This suggests the final settlement is not far off from this figure.


Michael Evans filed the complaint in April 2014, naming Meriden and two Animal Control officers — Bryan Kline and James Barnes — as defendants. According to his complaint, Evans was bitten by a Pitbull-Mastiff mix in April 2012 at Meriden Animal Control. He had previously been interested in adopting the dog, who was named Baby Hippo. The dog was euthanized following the attack.

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U.S. District Court Judge Todd Campbell recently held that Massachusetts gun maker Smith & Wesson was not liable for the accidental discharge of a pistol that caused a Tennessee man to lose his finger.


Judge Campbell dismissed the case on September 16, based on an order from the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee in Nashville. The plaintiffs Randy and Vicki McNeal sued Smith & Wesson for $75,000 this winter. The complaint claims McNeal was shot in the finger inside a gun store in Murfreesboro, Tennessee — a small city near Nashville. The plaintiffs alleged that the Bodyguard .380 pistol had a loose screw that inhibited the slide from locking correctly.

Gun enthusiasts claim that the .380 pistol is the weapon of choice for people who want security but don’t fit the profile of the typical gun owner, such as urbanites, women, and first-time buyers who are more concerned with easy-access self defense than high performance. The issue is that firearms experts indicate that .380s are difficult to use. Kevin Michalowski of Concealed Carry magazine said:  “Based on size, people will grab a .380. First time buyers see a soft shooter. I think that’s a little bit of a mistake.”

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Leslie Nieder filed suit against Ortho-McNeil Pharmaceutical and Johnson & Johnson after her 17-year-old daughter, Adrianna Duffy, collapsed in her dorm room and died of a pulmonary embolism. The case alleged multiple causes of action related to Johnson & Johnson’s birth control patch, Ortho Evra. Following a hearing, the lower court judge upheld Johnson & Johnson’s motion for summary judgment and ordered the dismissal of the complaint. The Massachusetts Court of Appeals recently affirmed the lower court’s dismissal of the complaint.

birth control

In July 2008, Duffy and her mother met with Duffy’s pediatrician, Sara Nelson, at Massachusetts General Hospital’s Chelsea Clinic to discuss birth control options. Nelson recommended and prescribed an oral birth control. At some point thereafter, Duffy discontinued using birth control pills. In June 2009, Duffy decided she needed a new birth control method. Nieder and she met with Nelson to discuss options. Nelson prescribed the Ortho Evra patch after Duffy inquired about the patch as an easier method of birth control. (Unlike oral birth control pills, which must be taken at the same time each day, the patch is applied to the skin once per week for three weeks.)

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Former Massachusetts State Trooper John J. Malone is suing Fiat Chrysler after being pinned against a hard wall by his Jeep Grand Cherokee. This federal lawsuit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, alleges that Fiat Chrysler fraudulently concealed and failed to fix a gear shifter design defect that resulted in Malone’s serious injury.


Malone tore his ACL, fractured both knees, and suffered severe bruising. He was hospitalized and thereafter required periodic draining from his knee. He will eventually need a complete knee replacement. Malone is 69 years old.

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The Massachusetts Court of Appeals recently upheld a lower court’s grant of summary judgment to a defendant hotel owner when there was no genuine factual dispute regarding the foreseeability of the unsafe condition causing the plaintiff’s fall.


Plaintiff Frances Amara attended a conference at a Sheraton Hotel owned by the defendant. On her second trip to the restroom, Amara slipped and fell on the ceramic floor, injuring herself. She placed her hands on the floor to get up, which became very wet from a foamy substance. She also noticed the smell of something akin to furniture polish. After she reported her fall, Sheraton personnel noticed an oily substance on the bathroom floor and the smell of furniture polish. A can of furniture polish, labeled “Radiance,” was located in a cabinet beneath the sink of the bathroom, “without a cap and dripping product.” France and her husband filed suit.

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Five patients of Dr. Tzay Chiu at Cataract & Laser Center West in West Springfield, Massachusetts were left blinded following cataract surgery on the same day. The injuries have confounded cataract surgeons, who say that even one serious injury is rare. According to the surgery center’s investigative reports, Dr. Chiu — the anesthesiologist on each of the cases — possibly pierced the patients’ eyeballs with his needles. Dr. Chiu’s attorney has not provided comment. surgery

Five surgeries took place that morning, four within a 30-minute period. More than one patient was heard screaming as the numbing needle was administered. On the following day, four patients discovered they could not see from the eye on which the doctor operated. The fifth patient has a crescent-shaped blind spot that greatly restricts his sight. Two of the patients have filed lawsuits, and all five have hired attorneys.

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The Massachusetts Court of Appeals recently held that a plaintiff’s harassment order was wrongfully extended because there was insufficient evidence of harassment. Specifically, there was no evidence that the defendant acted with intent to cause fear, intimidation, abuse, or damage to property.


Defendant Kinzy Reason and plaintiff Elizabeth Gassman lived in the same apartment in Brighton, Massachusetts. Reason lived in an apartment unit directly below Gassman, who played the piano frequently–a source of continued annoyance and distress for Reason.

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Last month, Rikki Carlson filed suit in federal court in the District of Massachusetts against Bristol-Meyers Squibb, Otsuka Pharmaceutical, and Otsuka American Pharmaceutical for injuries allegedly suffered from the anti-psychotic drug Abilify.


The Fall River woman claims that she suffered damages as a result of the defendants’ wrongful conduct regarding the design, labeling, promoting, marketing, development, testing, packaging, advertising, and distribution of the drug. Her lawsuit includes claims of strict liability, negligence, breach of warranty, and fraudulent concealment.

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A Massachusetts appeals court recently reversed a lower court’s grant of summary judgment to a defendant retail store following the plaintiff’s injury in the store, despite admitting that the plaintiff did not have a very strong case. pallets

Defendant Boys in Berries, LLC operates a farm and retail store in Sharon, Massachusetts. In July 2010, Maria Belanger arrived at the farm store with her husband, Ray, entering the store while her husband stayed in the car. Belanger selected a few items to purchase and went to check out. At the end of the checkout counter was a large cardboard box placed on top of a wood pallet. The box and pallet were directly adjacent to the end of the checkout counter, set back several inches from the vertical surface of the counter. From the checkout line, the top of the box was visible, but the square pallet on which it rested could not be seen. While in line, Belanger noted that the box was octagonal.

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