Articles Posted in Negligence

A plaintiff filed suit for negligence under the Massachusetts Tort Claims Act (Act) against the Massachusetts State Police after being attacked by a trained police dog in a parking lot. A state trooper who was an experienced dog handler had been in pursuit of a criminal through that parking lot. The plaintiff sued the police, alleging that the trooper’s conduct in releasing the police dog to capture a criminal in a public space created a foreseeable risk of harm to an innocent bystander. The lower court disagreed and granted summary judgment to the state police, reasoning that the plaintiff’s negligence claim was barred by the immunity provisions of the Act. The plaintiff appealed.

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In reversing, the appeals court first explained that the Act exempts a public employer from liability for any claim based on the performance of a discretionary duty by a public employee, regardless of whether that discretion is abused. The parties agreed that the state police was a public employer immunized from liability by the discretionary function exemption in the Act.

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A defendant and her employer, Eastern Connecticut Health Network, Inc., appealed from a trial court judgment for the plaintiff following a jury trial on his negligence claim resulting from a car accident. The Connecticut Court of Appeals affirmed.

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On November 21, 2012, at approximately 4:45 p.m., the plaintiff exited off Interstate 84 in Manchester. When the left arrow for his lane turned green, he proceeded slowly into the intersection. The defendant, who was traveling east on Deming Street in her Toyota Camry, hit the plaintiff’s car on the driver’s side door. Although the defendant applied her brakes prior to the impact, the plaintiff still sustained serious, life-threatening injuries. Several witnesses saw the accident and gave statements to the police or provided testimony to the jury. The statements and testimony of those witnesses varied greatly. Some of the witnesses stated that the defendant ran through a red light and that the plaintiff had a green light. Other witnesses stated that the plaintiff ran through a red light and that the defendant had a green light.

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A plaintiff was injured after she tripped on a bent stake jutting onto the walkway outside her condominium unit. She thereafter filed suit, alleging that the owner of the complex, Huntington Wood Condominium Trust, and the contractor responsible for snow removal, The Green Company Landscape & Irrigation, Inc., negligently maintained a hazardous condition that caused her injury. The superior court disagreed, finding that she failed to establish that the defendants had actual or constructive notice of a supposedly dangerous condition. The judge therefore granted the defendants’ motions for summary judgment. The plaintiff appealed, and the Massachusetts Court of Appeals affirmed.
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She alleged that in mid-March 2010, she injured herself when she tripped on a stake that poked out onto the walkway next to her condo unit. She passed that stake approximately three times that day before falling. She noticed that it was bent but did not realize it was jutting out onto the walkway. In the evening, she walked to her car. When she returned from her car, she tripped over the stake.

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A Holyoke family who narrowly escaped death during a January 1 fire filed suit for negligence on February 16 in Hampden Superior Court. Three victims were killed and 50 people were left homeless after the wild fire ravaged the four-story apartment building.

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Investigators decided the fire began when a wall outlet inside an apartment unit malfunctioned. The building was not equipped with sprinklers. (However, Massachusetts law did not require it to have a sprinkler system.) The investigators also concluded that the alarm system lost the connection to its monitoring company about a day prior to the fire. Thus, when the fire broke out, the alarms activated, but no signal was sent to the monitoring company. Accordingly, there was up to a 20-minute delay before the fire department was alerted t0 the fire.

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A plaintiff was injured in February 2013 when he fell from scaffolding on a construction site while employed by a contractor of the defendant. The plaintiff thereafter filed suit for negligence against the defendant, alleging that the defendant violated several Massachusetts state regulations and federal Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) regulations concerning the safety of the worksite.

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The trial judge allowed the plaintiff to introduce the OSHA regulations at trial but concluded that he could not introduce the state regulations because they were preempted by OSHA. After trial, the jury determined that the plaintiff was 51 percent negligent in causing his own injuries and that the defendant was only 49 percent negligent. The plaintiff therefore did not recover damages, and judgment was entered dismissing his complaint. On appeal, he claimed that the trial judge erroneously prevented him from introducing the state regulations at trial because they are not preempted by OSHA, and he was entitled to a new trial because the state regulations would have made a difference in the verdict. The Massachusetts appeals court disagreed and affirmed the lower court’s judgment.

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The Massachusetts Court of Appeals recently rejected arguments by a couple who lost a medical malpractice and wrongful death lawsuit involving the 2009 death of their infant child. They filed suit against a doctor and a nurse in 2010 for the loss of their late daughter, who died three days after her birth.

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The mother made headlines in April 2011 after she went public with allegations that she was being discriminated against after she was notified one week after her daughter’s death that her job at the state Department of Higher Education was being eliminated. According to reports, the family’s house went into foreclosure, and the family lost their health insurance. Adding insult to injury, in April 2014, a Suffolk Superior Court jury returned a verdict for the doctor and the nurse.

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Roughly a year and a half ago, Haverhill police officers shot and killed a 42-year-old man after he crashed his car in Bath, New Hampshire. His mother has filed suit against the police department and the individual officers involved in federal court, arguing there was no imminent risk to the officers’ safety. She is suing individually and as the executor of her son’s estate.

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The case was originally filed in Grafton County Superior Court, but it was recently transferred to U.S. District Court. The mother is suing for wrongful death, violations of civil rights, civil conspiracy, negligent supervision and training, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and battery. In addition, she alleges that law enforcement violated police protocol. As defendants, she lists the Haverhill Police Department, the Grafton County Sheriff’s Office, two officers, and a sergeant. She alleges that the department’s unconstitutional policies resulted in the July 2015 shooting of her son.

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A former student is suing a college in Massachusetts for negligent supervision. Specifically, the 22-year-old student believes the college is to blame for his binge drinking and subsequent assault conviction.

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In 2014, he pleaded guilty in Salem Superior Court to punching three students at the college. He allegedly “sucker punched” the students as they were walking across the campus in the early morning hours of February 2nd–an act the trial judge referred to as a “knockout game.”

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A woman in Rochester filed suit last month in Strafford County Superior Court for medical negligence and violations of the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Act after becoming highly addicted to the potent painkiller Subsys, which is stronger than morphine and heroin.

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Her Portsmouth attorney filed the lawsuit on Wednesday in Strafford County Superior Court. Among the defendants, the lawsuit names a physician’s assistant who treated and prescribed painkillers to the woman from the fall of 2012 to the summer of 2015. The center that prescribed the medication is also listed as a defendant. Finally, Colby is suing the drug’s maker, Insys Therapeutics.

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On behalf of her late husband, Reisa Clardy recently filed suit in Middlesex Superior Court for wrongful death against the man accused of killing Massachusetts State Trooper Thomas Clardy in a fatal car crash. The lawsuit, which seeks $20 million in damages, alleges that Mr. Clardy died “as a result of the grossly negligence or malicious, willful, wanton or reckless conduct of the defendant.”

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The defendant, 30-year-old Webster resident David Njuguna, collided with Clardy’s cruiser in March 2016. Trooper Clardy was stopped on the Massachusetts Turnpike, filling out a citation during a vehicle stop, when Mr. Njuguna’s sedan crashed into the rear of the cruiser without braking. Mr. Njuguna was allegedly traveling over 80 mph and was later found to have marijuana in his system. Following the crash, Trooper Clardy was taken to the hospital and shortly thereafter pronounced dead.

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