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On Sepimagestember 7, 2016, in Wilbraham, Massachusetts, a mother and her infant child miraculously escaped injuries after the brakes in her pick-up truck failed, causing her to slam into three cars stopped at a red light. The mother and infant did not have any visible injuries, although these kinds of accidents could still cause concussive injuries that are difficult to ascertain until much later. In this case, both the individual driving the pick-up truck and the motorists who were hit due to the brake failure can bring a products liability claim against the manufacturer of the motor vehicle for the defective braking system.

Product liability claims can be brought against both the person who sold the defective product, such as a car dealership, and the company that manufactured the defective product. There are five elements that an injured party needs to show in order to prevail on a products liability claim against a merchant. First, they must establish that the defendant is a merchant, meaning that the individual or company is in the business of selling a particular good. In products liability claims that arise out of a manufacturing or design defect of a car, the dealer is “any person or business, who in the ordinary course of its business, sells or leases new motor vehicles to consumers” and manufacturers are “any person or business engaged in the business of manufacturing or assembling new motor vehicles.” As such, there aren’t usually products liability claims against individuals who sold their defective used car because they are not regularly in the business of selling or manufacturing motor vehicles. The second and third elements the injured party must show are that they have either bought or leased from the merchant and that they used the product the way it was supposed to be used. Then they need to demonstrate that there was a defect in the product, either in its design or the way in which it was manufactured, and that this resulted in some type of injury. Usually, lawyers will have experts to testify to whether a product was designed or manufactured defectively because ordinary people cannot make that determination. Continue reading

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imagesOn August 3, 2016, nearly forty years after its first incident of sexual abuse, St. George, a Rhode Island boarding school, settled suit with 30 former students, whose accounts of sexual abuse were either ignored or outright disbelieved by the school. Unfortunately, horrific stories like these are all too common throughout the country, even in Massachusetts and other preparatory schools in New England. While it is impossible to fully compensate minor victims of sexual abuse, survivors may still recover damages from schools that failed to protect children from sexual offenses carried out by staff members at these institutions.

St. George is an elite private boarding school in Rhode Island, which opened its doors to girls around the 1970s. During that time, the school hired a field hockey coach who later became responsible for carrying out terrible abuses on teenage girls. One of the first victims, Anne Scott, sued the school about a decade after the incident. However, she dropped her suit when the school’s attorney argued that Ms. Scott was lying or that she had consensual sex with the then 67-year-old Al Gibbs, the school’s athletic trainer. Years later, more survivors reported abuses at the prep school from Gibbs and other faculty members. The school acknowledged that it mistreated the reports and failed to report the incidents to the appropriate authorities, which was required by law. Continue reading

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It is back-to-school time in Massachusetts! Whether students are going to public or private school, kindergarten or twelfth grade, it is time for parents to rush to the store, buy school supplies, and brush up on their math. It is also time for parents to send their kids off to school on school buses, which means brushing up on school bus safety.

School buses are the safest mode of stop-arm-camera00000000transportation for students, not only because of their size but also because of how seats are constructed. Like many states, Massachusetts does not require school buses to have seat belts for children. While many parents are concerned about their children riding school buses without seatbelts and many communities can require school buses to have seatbelts, studies have shown that buses with padded seats that are higher in the back and have short front to back seat spacing are safer for young students. Bus drivers are required to wear seatbelts while driving. Continue reading

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After four years of litigation, on July 28, 2016, in Bowers v. P. Wiles Inc., the Supreme Judicial Court (“SJC”), the highest court in Massachusetts, has finally cleared the way for a jury to hear the case between Linda Bowers and P. Wiles Inc. They have expanded the “mode of operation” exception to premises liability of storeowners, making it easier for plaintiffs to prove that storeowners are liable for the injuries caused by the negligence of other customers.

In December of 2011, the plaintiff, Linda Bowers, fractured her hip when she slipped on a wet river stone on the walkway leading to an Agway garden store in Cape Cod. Agway is owned by P. Wiles Inc. Ms. Bowers sued P. Wiles Inc. for negligence, claiming that Agway knew or should have known that other patrons could dislodge stones, creating a fall risk for customers. Ms. Bowers alleges that Agway did not take reasonable steps to prevent customers from tripping and injuring themselves on these stones. After filing her complaint, P. Wiles moved for summary judgment claiming that Ms. Bowers did not have sufficient evidence to show that Agway had actual or constructive knowledge that the stone was there. In fact, Ms. Bowers had admitted that she did not have evidence to show whether the stone was there long enough for Agway to remedy the situation.  Continue reading

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Since its release on July 6th, Pokémon Go has been a party to many injuries, several car accidents and even muggings. So far, injuries sustained have not been fatal. Many players have reported via social media injuries ranging from severe sunburns to twisted ankles from tripping or falling into ditches.

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Pokémon Go is a new app inspired by a video game originally released in 1995 which was played on Gameboys. Soon after its creation, the Pokémon franchise expanded to the creation of a cartoon, along with playing cards and toys. The object of Pokémon Go is literally to “catch ‘em all!” Players walk around using the app, which in turn uses the camera app. As you walk around, the app tells you where you might find Pokémon, which are then viewable through the app. You then “throw” a pokéball at them to capture them.

Aside from injuries, there have also been muggings associated with the game. In Missouri, a group of teenagers were arrested for robbing several Pokémon Go players by using the app against them to lure them to areas where they could easily be overtaken and robbed. The teenagers were able to lure players by setting up pokéstops to “attract Pokémon” and in so doing were able to attract unsuspecting Pokémon Go players.

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Boston has launched a review of protocols at all its summer camps after a young boy was found drowned at a beach after disappearing from a South Boston day camp.

On Tuesday, July 26, 2015, at approximately 7:09 p.m., 7-year-old Kyzr Willis was recovered by police in the water behind the L Street Bathhouse at the Curley Community Center after he wandered away unnoticed from camp.

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“My heart goes out to the family,” Police Commissioner William B. Evans told reports at the scene.  “This is a tragedy.”

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On Monday July 18th, 2016 over 50 former professional wrestlers filed a class action lawsuit against the WWE alleging that they each suffered “long term neurological injuries” due to the WWE’s absolute failure to treat them in “any medically competent or meaningful manner.” The lawsuit further states that the WWE had “fraudulently misrepresented and concealed” the nature and extent of injuries sustained while wrestling. WWE

The injury alleged in the lawsuit is known as Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy or CTE. CTE is a progressive degenerative disease of the brain found in people with a history of repetitive brain trauma, including symptomatic concussions as well as asymptomatic subconcussive hits to the head.

CTE was originally discovered in boxers in the 1920’s.  However, recent studies have found CTE in other professional athletes or anyone who has repeatedly experienced head trauma.

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Amanda Phillips of Cambridge, a 27-year-old bicyclist was killed on Thursday, June 23, 2016 after she was hit by a truck while riding her bicycle through Inman Square in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The crash is still under investigation.

In a statement made last Friday, Massachusetts State Police stated that a preliminary reconstruction of the crash indicated that Phillips had maneuvered from the sidewalk to the open roadway where she struck the open door of a parked jeep as a person prepared to get out. The impact then pushed the cyclist into traffic where she collided with a landscaping truck.

The crash occurred at around 12:17 p.m. at the intersection of Hampshire and Cambridge streets, in Cambridge’s Inman Square. Inman Square is an exceptionally busy four-way intersection often packed with cars, pedestrians, MBTA buses, and bikers. Following the accident, Phillips was rushed to Massachusetts General Hospital, where she was later pronounced dead.

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Last week, 2-year old Lane Graves of Nebraska lost his life in a deadly alligator attack at Disney. Reports state that an alligator snatched the boy from the shores of the man-made Seven Seas Lagoon at the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa where he and his family were vacationing.

While at the Disney Resort, the young boy had been wading close to the shore the lagoon.  The boy’s father desperately attempted to free his child from the alligator while his mother tried to get help from the lifeguard. Tragically, the alligator was too strong and fast for any rescue efforts. The next morning officials reported that they had recovered the body of the boy.  The official cause of death is drowning.

Following the tragic death, Disney released a public statement stating that the company “will thoroughly review the situation for the future.”

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Earlier this month, fifty-year-old Charles Pickett of Battle Creek, Michigan crashed his car into nine bicyclists and then fled the scene.  He is now facing five counts of second-degree murder and four counts of reckless driving causing serious bodily harm.

Just minutes prior to the collision, police in the area had received several concerned calls prompting them to search for an erratically driving truck.  According to one eyewitness, he had just narrowly missed being hit by the truck as he was leaving a local park. He further stated that he didn’t have time to warn the bicyclists before the truck collided into the group – ranging in age from 40 to 74.file000619457980-1

The bicyclists were part of a group who referred to themselves as the “Chain Gang” and regularly took long rides together. They were just 5-miles into their typical 30 mile ride when Pickett struck the bike-enthusiasts. According to the Kalamazoo Sheriff’s Department, after the truck made impact, Pickett bailed from his truck and fled the scene on foot. Police were able to swiftly find and arrest him.