Articles Posted in Personal Injury

A six-figure jury verdict against the manufacturer of an adhesive product called FM-37 was recently set aside by the Connecticut Supreme Court. The plaintiff sought to recover damages under the Connecticut’s Product Liability Act (CPLA) for the wrongful death of the decedent, claiming negligence and strict liability. The plaintiff contended that the decedent was exposed during his employment to an asbestos-containing product (FM-37) manufactured by the defendant and that the exposure contributed to his contraction of deadly mesothelioma. This type of theory is also relevant to cases brought by Massachusetts wrongful death plaintiffs.

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Malignant mesothelioma is a rare cancer that usually forms on the protective lining of the lungs and abdomen. The disease has no definitive cure, but advancements in conventional treatments along with emerging therapies are helping patients improve their survival rate. Incidence rates still hover around 3,000 new cases each year in the U.S., according to a 2017 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, scientific research and increased awareness are leading to earlier diagnoses and improved treatments. Exposure to asbestos remains the leading cause of mesothelioma. Asbestos, a mineral fiber, can release toxic chemicals in the air if improperly handled.

Asbestos litigation has been going on for decades, ever since the substance was linked to mesothelioma. Individuals affected by this disease have sued companies that made products containing asbestos. Last month, for example, a Massachusetts developer agreed to pay $100,000 to settle a lawsuit over accusations that workers improperly removed and disposed of asbestos. According to the lawsuit, unlicensed workers were allowed to remove materials containing asbestos without taking proper safety precautions. The lawsuit also alleged the company threw away unsealed asbestos near apartment buildings.

A Connecticut resident filed suit for negligence after injuring herself while walking to the Danbury Hospital parking lot. She prevailed during a bench trial, and the defendant appealed. The Connecticut Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court’s decision, which may be interesting to Massachusetts slip and fall claimants as well.

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In June 2010, the victim and her daughter were visiting the victim’s husband, who was being treated at Danbury Hospital. After their visit, they exited the hospital’s main building and walked onto a walkway leading toward the parking lot. They were familiar with this walkway, since they had made this same trip several times in the past.

While they were walking along the pathway, the victim hit something with her foot and fell to the ground. As a result of the fall, she sustained injuries to her right foot and ankle. It later was determined that she had broken her big toe and damaged the fifth metatarsal of her right foot. Within minutes of the fall, she was taken to Danbury’s emergency room, where she was examined and treated for her injuries. As a result of her fall, she experienced chronic lower back pain from a protruded disc that required several epidural steroid injections and, eventually, a surgical decompression procedure. The lower court ruled for the victim following a bench trial.

A woman filed suit on behalf of her daughters, based on a a Massachusetts car accident that occurred in December 2010. The defendant was driving a tractor-trailer owned by the co-defendant when he rear-ended the plaintiff’s car. The defendants conceded liability, and the trial proceeded strictly on the issue of damages. The jury returned a verdict of $6,749.29 to the woman, $6,414.70 to one daughter, and no damages to the other daughter. The plaintiffs moved to set aside the jury verdict and for a new trial, both of which were denied.

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The plaintiffs appealed, arguing:  (1) the trial judge abused her discretion in refusing to continue the trial when co-counsel withdrew after jury empanelment; (2) the trial judge wrongfully excluded the plaintiffs’ revised medical records; (3) the trial judge wrongfully admitted certain medical records offered by the defendants; and (4) there was ineffective assistance of counsel. The Massachusetts Appeals Court rejected these arguments and affirmed the lower court’s judgment.

The appeals court first considered the plaintiffs’ claim that the judge abused her discretion in denying their motion for a continuance and “forcing” them to trial without adequate assistance of counsel. After jury empanelment, “lead counsel’s” renewed motion to withdraw was permitted due to what he described as an ethical conflict. The judge then stated her intention to dismiss the case for want of prosecution if the plaintiffs did not go forward without him. The plaintiffs did not object to the judge’s decision at that time. Since they raised the issue for the first time on appeal, the appeals court explained that the argument was waived.

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 plaintiff appealed from the trial court’s grant of summary judgment to his grandfather, the defendant in a negligence action. The plaintiff argued that the trial court erred by concluding that the defendant owed him no duty and that the court abused its discretion by denying his motion to amend his complaint to add a new liability theory. The Vermont Supreme Court reversed and remanded.

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The defendant, Hector, was an experienced construction worker. In 2011, he asked his son, Ricky, about replacing the roof of Hector’s office. Ricky approached his son, Joseph, about working on the project. Joseph had also worked in construction and was an experienced roofer. According to Joseph’s deposition testimony, Ricky supplied the tools, equipment, and materials for the roof job.

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A Philadelphia woman who filed a federal lawsuit following an elevator accident recently settled with the defendants. Last month, a U.S. District Court Judge announced the action was dismissed with prejudice, pursuant to an agreement.

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The plaintiff sued the elevator company, the property manager of the building, and the building’s owner. The amount of the settlement was undisclosed.

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Last month, the parents of a man who was fatally attacked on MetroLink in 2016 filed suit for wrongful death in St. Louis Circuit Court. The plaintiffs argue that MetroLink failed to provide adequate security to prevent the attack against their son. His father said he is suing to get someone to pay attention and address the violent crime epidemic on MetroLink.

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The son died at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in April 2016, roughly two weeks after he was found with a severe head injury at the MetroLink station at 410 South Euclid Avenue–Central West End. His death was ruled a homicide, although nobody has been charged. It remains unclear who killed the victim.

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A plaintiff identified only as “Jane J.” filed suit against the state of Massachusetts under the Massachusetts Tort Claims Act (MTCA). She alleged that while she was involuntarily committed to a state psychiatric hospital, a male patient raped her while she was in the recreation room. The issue before the Massachusetts Court of Appeals was whether the hospital’s failure to segregate its patients’ use of the recreation room by gender established legal causation for the rape. The appeals court concluded that it did not and accordingly affirmed the order of summary judgment for the state.

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In March 2009, Jane J. was committed to the state hospital for a competency evaluation after being charged with assault and battery, pursuant to Massachusetts General Law Section 15. In her lawsuit, Jane J. alleged that roughly a month into her commitment, a fellow patient raped her in the common room.

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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 while playing in an ultimate frisbee league game at an athletic facility owned by the defendant. His wife and he filed a complaint against the defendant, with the plaintiff claiming negligence, his wife claiming loss of consortium, and both plaintiffs claiming negligent infliction of emotional distress. The defendant answered and made a counterclaim for indemnification against the plaintiff.

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The judge allowed the defendant’s motion for summary judgment on both of the plaintiff’s claims, ruling that he waived the claims by signing a release of liability when he registered to play in the ultimate frisbee league. The wife’s claims proceeded to a three-day jury trial. At the close of evidence, the same judge entered a directed verdict for the defendant on its indemnity counterclaim against the plaintiff, and the jury then returned a verdict for the defendant on the wife’s claims. Both plaintiffs appealed. The husband challenged the judge’s allowance of the defendant’s motions for summary judgment and a directed verdict and the judge’s award of attorney’s fees and costs. The wife challenged the judge’s allowance of two motions in limine made by the defendant. Discerning no error in any of these rulings, the Massachusetts Court of Appeals affirmed.

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