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Court-with-Flag-300x200One of the most horrific mass shootings in the nation’s history occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut. The shooter killed 20 children, all between the ages of 6 and 7, as well as 6 adults before killing himself. The families of those killed have brought a number of legal actions in response to the devastating losses they sustained on November 30, 2012.

Parents of children killed have brought several legal actions under various legal theories. One of the successful suits was against the shooter’s mother’s estate. Since she was also killed in the rampage, her estate was liable for injuries resulting from her negligent acts that contributed to the killing. The plaintiff’s claimed she negligently kept a Bushmaster AR-15 unsecured, allowing her troubled son access to the weapon. The parties settled for $1.5 million to be divided among the plaintiffs.

One family brought suit against the town and school district, alleging the school was unprepared and the response was insufficient. The trial court dismissed the case in 2018, ruling that the situation was so unexpected, intense, and wildly dangerous that hindsight regarding safety protocols could not be deemed negligent.

outside-court-300x204One out of five girls and one out of twenty boys are sexually assaulted. This figure may be much higher, as child sexual assault is frequently not reported, only revealed later in life when the adult can express what the child could not. Other times, the abuse is never reported. Whether or not reported, sexual assault causes grievous injury to the child. Children are among the most vulnerable of victims, but until recently, many states’ statutes of limitation were ill suited to redress survivors of childhood sexual assault.

In New York, prior to August 14, 2019, a child survivor of sexual assault had to file a civil suit for damages before his or her 23rd birthday. That window was as short as one year for certain types of claims. Claims against public institutions were even more restrictive, requiring the victim file a notice of claim within 90 days of the injury. Fortunately, on August 14, 2019 the New York Child Victims Act went into effect.

Going forward, a civil suit may be filed at any time until the survivor of sexual assault turns 55. This portion of the Act applies to claims that have not yet been extinguished under the old statute of limitations. In other words, individuals under the age of 23 (or younger, depending of the specific claim) will have until they turn 55 to file a claim. Essentially, young persons that are not ready to discuss their sexual abuse, have until their 55th birthday to bring suit.

3M is an enormous multinational conglomerate headquartered in St. Paul, Minnesota. The company is thoroughly diversified but is known most for manufacturing a wide range of products, including adhesives, abrasives, dental and orthodontic products, electronic equipment, software, and personal protective equipment. The company is presently suffering through the consequences of poorly designing certain personal protective equipment issued to the United States’ Armed Forces.

From 2003 through 2015, 3M produced protective earplugs for the United States Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines. The earplugs were marketed as being effective at blocking dangerously loud sound, such as the sound of small arms and heavy weaponry fire, while still permitting users to effectively communicate verbally and hear approaching enemy combatants unimpeded.

The earplugs did not live up to the marketing. Due to a soldier-on-tank-300x277design flaw, the earplugs would loosen after insertion breaking the seal over the ear canal, allowing dangerous sound to penetrate and damage the inner ear. More astounding are the allegations that 3M knew about the defect as early as 2003, yet refused to recall, or even redesign the product until 2015. By 2006, several years after the defect was allegedly known, 3M’s contract with the United States government supplied an estimated 750,000 pairs of earplugs to the armed services on an annual basis.

hit and run

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Most arrests for drunk driving occur after a traffic stop. The officer initiates a traffic stop, detects signs of intoxication, conducts field sobriety tests, and typically concludes with a preliminary breath test (“PBT”). If the driver has consumed enough alcohol that a PBT demonstrates his or her blood alcohol content (“BAC”) is over the legal limit, the officer will arrest the driver for drunk driving. Upon reaching the police station, the driver will be subjected to additional breath tests, using a more sophisticated equipment.

Given the amount of evidence created in this chain of events, a successful defense is challenging. However, there are several key events occurring during the arrest which can be attacked. This blog focuses solely on the traffic stop itself, which implicates the Fourth Amendment constitutional right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures.

As a general matter, the manufacturers and sellers of goods can be held legally responsible if a product is defective or unreasonably dangerous. While there are three general types of Massachusetts product liability cases, the most common type of claim is a breach of warranty of merchantability.

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Zolnierek

The warranty of merchantability is a warranty that attaches to any good that is sold. This warranty is implied, because it attaches regardless of the language the manufacturer includes on the packaging or any warning given by a salesperson. The warranty of merchantability ensures that a product will perform as expected for the specific purpose for which it was sold.

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Under Massachusetts law, landowners have a general duty to keep their property in a reasonably safe condition for invited guests. When a guest is injured due to some dangerous condition on another’s property, the injury victim can pursue a Massachusetts premises liability lawsuit against the landowner seeking compensation for their injuries.

To succeed in a premises liability case, a plaintiff must be able to establish that the landowner breached a duty of care that was owed to the plaintiff. Additionally, the plaintiff must show that the defendant’s breach of that duty resulted in their injuries. A recent federal appellate case from the First Circuit Court of Appeals illustrates the type of evidence necessary to prove a premises liability lawsuit.

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In the event of the tragic death of a loved one, the surviving family members can bring a wrongful death claim against the person who they believe to be at fault for the accident. Massachusetts’s wrongful death statute allows a plaintiff to bring a claim against a defendant who negligently causes a person’s death, or who, “by willful, wanton or reckless act” causes the person’s death in a way that would have allowed the person to recover compensation if the person were still alive.

Under the statute, the following people can recover damages from a Massachusetts wrongful death claim:

hit and run

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Massachusetts motorists must stay at the scene of a crash to provide their information to injured parties—the failure to do so carries serious civil and criminal consequences. Under Massachusetts law, the crime of leaving the scene of an accident involves leaving the scene after “knowingly colliding with or otherwise causing injury” to another vehicle, person, or property, or “to avoid prosecution or evade apprehension” after a collision resulting in death, and without stopping and providing the driver’s name, residence, and vehicle registration number.

Massachusetts car accident victims may be able to use another driver’s act of leaving the scene as evidence of that driver’s negligence in a subsequent civil lawsuit. A criminal conviction for leaving the scene of an accident might be used to show the driver was at fault for the crash or as other evidence. Even for drivers that fear the consequences, leaving the scene is illegal and is never a good idea. Police are often able to track down hit-and-run drivers through video and witnesses.

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In a recent case before Massachusetts’s Supreme Judicial Court, the court was asked to clarify under what circumstances an injury victim was required to provide 30-day notice in cases involving road defects. In that case, the plaintiff was injured when he was riding his bike and hit a utility cover that was not completely aligned with the road. The plaintiff filed a negligence claim against the city, but the city claimed that an energy company was responsible for the misaligned cover. The plaintiff then brought a negligence claim against the energy company. However, a judge dismissed the plaintiff’s case for failure to provide notice to the company within thirty days of the plaintiff’s injury, as required by statute. The plaintiff appealed.

Under M. G. L. c. 84, § 15 of the Tort Claims Act, the statute generally imposes liability on the county, city, town or “person by law obliged to repair the same” for injuries caused by a defect “in or upon a way.” If a person’s claim falls under § 15, the plaintiff is required to give notice before bringing a claim. Under § 18, a person must provide notice within thirty days of the injury to the county, city, town or “person by law obliged to keep said way in repair.”

Massachusetts personal injury cases involving more than one potentially liable party can become complicated when it comes to determining each party’s liability. A defendant’s negligence does not need to be the sole cause of a plaintiff’s injury for the defendant to be legally responsible for the plaintiff’s injury. As long as a defendant’s negligence contributed as a proximate cause of the p

motorcycle accident

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laintiff’s injury, the defendant is liable. In a Massachusetts negligence case,  joint liability is appropriate when two or more parties negligently contribute to the injury of another through their acts, which operate concurrently, in a way that the damages are inseparable. In such cases, the parties are jointly and severally liable.

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