Committed to Justice in Boston and Beyond

An 18-year-old woman was fatally shot by Maine police in February. Her mother recently filed notice for a wrongful death lawsuit against the three officers who fired the shots, the town of Vassalboro, Kennebec County, the Vassalboro Police Department, and the head of the Maine State Police. She was appointed the personal representative for her daughter’s estate by a Kennebec County Probate Court judge. She is seeking $500,000 in damages.gun

The victim was shot to death on February 10th of this year on Arnold Road in Vassalboro. A 25-year-old man was also killed in the incident. He was driving a truck in which the victim was the passenger. The man allegedly rammed into a police cruiser, and two Maine police officers and the Vassalboro police chief  all fired their guns. The officers were responding to a reported robbery when the man hit the police cruiser. All three officers have been placed on administrative leave without pay since the shooting.

The woman claims that the victim was merely an innocent bystander. At the time the shots were fired, she’s said, the victim was not a threat to any of the officers or anyone else. She hadn’t committed a crime, and she wasn’t trying to escape or flee. The police didn’t need to use deadly force, she said, and “they could have took that car out.” Her notice of suit claims the agencies had inadequate training and policies to cause the use of force that caused her daughter’s death.

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 patient sued a hospital and a clinical care nurse for medical malpractice after the nurse inserted a catheter to drain his urine during and after his surgery, allegedly causing injuries. At trial, the plaintiff sought to offer the testimony of a registered nurse regarding the proper standard of care. The trial court concluded that the nurse was not a similar health care provider as required by the statute pertaining to the qualifications of expert witnesses in medical malpractice actions, and it granted the hospital’s motion to preclude the nurse’s testimony. The trial court thereafter granted the hospital’s motion for a directed verdict because the patient had failed to establish the requisite standard of care for treatment.

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On appeal, the patient claimed that the trial court erred in precluding the nurse’s testimony and directing the verdict for the hospital. The Connecticut Court of Appeals disagreed and affirmed the lower court’s decision.

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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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The defendants owned a dog that caused property damage and injury to the plaintiff. She filed suit against the dog owners and Vermont Mutual Insurance Company (Vermont Mutual). Vermont Mutual counterclaimed and cross-claimed, seeking a declaration that the homeowner’s policy at issue was void as a result of the insureds’ material misrepresentations on their application for insurance as to the dog’s bite history and their history of loss. Following a bench trial on the issue of coverage only, the lower court agreed with Vermont Mutual on the bite history issue and accordingly dismissed the plaintiff’s complaint against Vermont Mutual. The dog owners and the plaintiff (collectively, the appellants) jointly appealed. The Massachusetts Court of Appeals agreed with the appellants and vacated the lower court’s judgment.

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On December 30, 2010, the dog owner visited the Tarpey Insurance Group (Tarpey) in Peabody for the purpose of obtaining homeowner’s insurance for his residence in Peabody. With the assistance of one of Tarpey’s customer service representatives, he completed an application for insurance with Vermont Mutual. On the application, he responded “Yes” to the question, “Are there any animals or exotic pets kept on premises?” Under the “Remarks” section of the application, the representative noted, “American bull dog — no biting incidents.” Another section of the application was entitled “Loss History” and asked, “Any losses, whether or not paid by insurance, during the last 6 years, at this or at any other location?” The dog owner responded “No” and placed his initials adjacent to his response. He signed and dated the application. Vermont Mutual subsequently issued a homeowner’s policy to the the dog owners.

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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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