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In July of 2016, Kyzr Willis, a 7-year-old boy who was participating in a city-sponsored drop day camp, went missing at Carson Beach in South Boston, Massachusetts. Unfortunately, a few hours after he was discovered missing, his body was found in the water. The Boston Police Department (“BPD”) is investigating Kyzr Willis’s death, but has not provided Willis’s family with his autopsy report or returned his personal effects.

Kyzr was one of 56 children who was dropped off on July 26, 2016 at the South Boston’s Center’s for Youth and Families at the Curley Center. The camp ran between 10 AM to 3 PM, Monday through Friday. It was supervised by 25 teenage counselors, two supervisors, and the director of the Curley Center. Carson Beach also had eight lifeguards, two of which were assigned to the section of the beach that was partitioned off specifically for the use of the camp’s children. Unfortunately, neither the camp supervisor nor the two life guards at the beach noticed when Kyzr Willis wandered away from the group.

After Kyzr Willis went missing, the camp called the Boston Police Department, but according to Kyzr Willis’s mother, did not inform her of her son’s disappearance. Instead, her nine-year old niece called her to inform her that Kyzr Willis was missing. A BPD officer reported that the camp counselors were completely unaware of where Kyzr Willis was. As such, BPD  initially focused on a land search, believing that he had wandered off to his home in Dorchester.

Thursday morning, during the rush hour peak, a New Jersey commuter train plowed full speed into the Hoboken terminal, injuring 114 people. Fabiola Bittar de Kroon, 34, of Hoboken, was killed by falling debris while waiting on the platform for the train’s arrival. She was the only fatality.

Witnesses said the train hurtled through the designated stopping point, slammed into a bumper block, went airborne and drove through a passenger concourse at approximately 8:45 a.m.

Bhagyesh Shah, who was riding in the back of the front car on his way to work, said the train didn’t seem to slow as it entered the station. He further stated, “[t]he next thing I know, I’m on the floor. We are plowing through something … and when the train came to a stop, I could see the parts of the roof on the first car and some of the debris next to me.”

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On September 19, 2016, Middlesex prosecutors charged Bradford Casler, 55 , with two counts of motor vehicle homicide and one count of operating a motor vehicle so as to endanger following the fatal Sweet Tomatoes Crash in Newton, Massachusetts.  Mr. Casler plead not guilty and was released on his own recognizance.

Mr. Casler was the driver of a vehicle that crashed into the popular pizza restaurant Sweet Tomatoes.  With virtually no warning, patrons of the restaurant were unable to jump out of the way in time. As a result, two people, Eleanor Miele, 57, of Watertown, and 32 year-old Gregory D. Morin on Newton were killed. In addition, seven other patrons were also injured.

The Middlesex County prosecutor, Chris Tarrant, stated that witnesses reported that Mr. Casler was speeding on Chestnut Street and failed to brake as he crossed the intersection of Washington.  Mr. Casler was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and had the disease for 27 years, but the State has stated that the do not believe his medical condition affected his ability to drive safely.

On September 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.

 

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On 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

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 transportation 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

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

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.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.

The US isn’t the only country with mounting concerns regarding injuries and crimes caused by players distractedly tripping and running into things. Police in the UK have been warning players to watch their surroundings, as having their faces buried in their phones make them easy targets for criminals, as well as prone to accidents such as walking into oncoming traffic.

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

Willis was attending a drop-in summer day camp at the Curley Community Center when he went missing.  The South Boston community center where the camp is held includes a bathhouse at Carson Beach where the boy was last scene at around 2:15 p.m.  He could not be found when his mother came to pick him up less than an                                                                                       hour later.

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. 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.

This repeated trauma causes brain degeneration which can be seen in terms of memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment, impulse control problems, aggression, depression, and, eventually, progressive dementia.  With CTE, symptoms can begin within a few months following the trauma or can begin to develop decades later.

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