Articles Posted in Personal Injury

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.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.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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Two plaintiffs filed suit, alleging that one of them fell at the Northshore Mall as a result of slipping on water. The plaintiffs alleged that this water was on the mall floor, due to the negligence of the defendant, which was responsible for watering the plants located in the mall. A Superior Court judge granted summary judgment to all of the defendants. The plaintiffs appealed.

Applying the traditional approach to slip and fall cases, the lower court held that the plaintiffs failed to present any evidence that would allow a reasonable jury to conclude that the defendants knew or should have known that the substance on which the plaintiff allegedly slipped was on the mall floor. The appeals court agreed.

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The Massachusetts Court of Appeals recently affirmed a jury’s ruling against a plaintiff following a Worcester car accident. Just after midnight in April 2013, a defendant was driving westbound on Route 20. He was in the left-hand westbound lane, going slower than the speed limit. As far as he could see, he was the only car on the road. He had a green light as he proceeded through the intersection of Route 20 and Greenwood Street.Meanwhile, the plaintiff, another defendant, and another woman had been visiting a friend. The plaintiff drank some tequila during the visit. A few minutes past midnight, the girls got into the other defendant’s Honda Civic to go to McDonald’s. The other defendant was driving, and the plaintiff was seated in the passenger seat behind her. They headed toward Route 20. The westbound driver on Route 20 hit the Civic when it crossed in front of him. The Civic spun around, and the plaintiff was ejected, suffering serious and permanent injuries as a result.

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Massachusetts groom Barry Billcliff is being sued by two wedding guests who allege they were hit by a drone at the reception of his wedding. Billcliff and his bride, Nichole, were married over the summer at New Hampshire’s Searles Castle. A drone was used during the reception to take aerial photos. Massachusetts residents Kneena Ellis and Kelly Eaton claim they were dancing when the drone came out of nowhere and slammed into their faces.The drone collision allegedly fractured Eaton’s nose and orbital bone and gave her a concussion. Ellis claims that she suffered a wound that required over 20 stitches. According to the plaintiffs, the groom was operating the drone at the time. Billcliff countered that while he owns the drone, he was not flying it at the time of the accident. In fact, he maintains he was standing in the middle of the dance floor when the drone crash occurred.

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In December 2012, Adam Lanza used Remington Arms’ Bushmaster AR-15-style rifle to kill 26 people, including 20 first-graders, at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut. In December 2014, nine families affected by the shooting filed suit for wrongful death against Camfour, Inc. (a firearms distributor), Riverview Gun Sales (the now-defunct Connecticut dealer), and Remington Arms in Connecticut Superior Court, seeking to hold the firearms companies accountable for the tragedy.The lawsuit claimed the military-style assault rifle used in the Newtown attack should never have been sold to the gunman’s mother, Nancy Lanza (who was also killed in the attack), since it lacked a reasonable civilian purpose.

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Plaintiff Eric Halbach suffered serious injuries when he tripped on uneven pavement on a public sidewalk next to a building owned by the defendants. Halbach and his wife, Kathleen, subsequently sued, alleging that the defendants had a duty to either repair the sidewalk or warn pedestrians and the city of Boston of the hazard. Concluding that no such duty exists, a judge of the Superior Court granted the defendants’ motion for summary judgment. The appeals court affirmed.In June 2009, Halbach was walking on Clarendon Street in the city, near the John Hancock garage. He tripped and fell on uneven pavement on a part of the sidewalk next to the garage, sustaining significant injuries as a result. The sidewalk where Halbach fell is owned by the city. At the time of the fall, the commercial property adjacent to the sidewalk was owned by defendant 100 & 200 Clarendon Street LLC and maintained by defendant Normandy Real Estate. After the incident, Normandy hired a company to grind down the uneven payment at a cost of $798.

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Northeastern Student Morgan Helfman, 21, recently sued the university for mishandling her 2013 rape case and failing to protect students from sexual assault. Helfman filed suit last month in Suffolk Superior Court for punitive damages and attorneys’ fees.Helfman alleged that she was raped by another student in her freshman dorm after he took her home from a Halloween party, at which alcohol was served despite the fact that the host was a residential assistant and many students were underage. Helfman claimed that the university inappropriately handled the incident and unjustly exonerated the alleged perpetrator.

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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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