Articles Tagged with Taunton Personal Injury Lawyer

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It’s summertime, and we are right in the middle of baseball season. The Home Run Derby and the All-Star Game just took place, and the second half of the MLB season will kick off tonight with some teams thinking about a pennant and others weighing their options for next year. Behind the scenes, however, a movement has begun to drastically alter the way that we watch baseball from the stands. My colleague, Brian Dever, recently wrote a blog on the Baseball Rule, which states that stadium owners are generally not liable for injuries caused by balls and bats flying into the stands and hitting spectators. Instead, the onus is on the fans to be alert during the game. But this rule may now have to withstand a new challenge in federal court.

A San Francisco woman has brought a federal class action lawsuit against Major League Baseball and its commissioner, Rob Manfred. The lawsuit is not asking for money, but instead only seeks to have protective netting to be extended from foul pole to foul pole. Currently, protective netting is only required in certain sections behind home plate. The lawsuit claims that the protection afforded to those behind home plate should also be given to fans along the first and third base lines. The lead Plaintiff alleges that she, a longtime Giants fan, is fearful to go to the park because of foul balls. Interestingly enough, she states that the unprotected seats along the base lines are cheaper than the protected seats behind the plate, implying that some fans are given the choice to pay for greater safety. Please check out the ESPN article and the NBC Sports article on the lawsuit.

Simply from a legal standpoint, this is a very interesting issue. As Attorney Dever’s post details, the courts have long held that there are some “danger zones” in MLB stadiums that are required to have some sort of netting to protect fans. This is why the net is behind home plate (it’s also the reasoning that requires netting around shooting areas of hockey rinks). The court has also held that outside of this “danger zone,” the stadium does not owe any duty to protect. So instead of pursuing the claim under a theory that has been rejected by courts for decades, the new lawsuit instead seeks to expand the “danger zone” where the duty does exist. Only time will tell whether this action will be successful.

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The summer is a great time to go outside and enjoy the nice weather and sunshine, and a time when many people take advantage of the ability to be more active and participate in a variety of sports. However, people do not always consider the liability ramifications of participating in sports, or even merely being a fan in the stands. A few weeks ago, a woman got hit with a piece of a broken bat at a Red Sox game. This is a reminder that sometimes we can encounter danger when we least expect it. See the stories in the Boston Globe and in USA Today for more information on that accident.

The Baseball Rule discussed regarding the Red Sox fan’s injury basically states that the stadium is not legally responsible for spectator injuries sustained when a foul ball or broken bat flies into the stands. The rule was most recently applied in the case of Costa v. Boston Red Sox Baseball Club, 61 Mass. App. Ct. 299, 809 N.E.2d 1090 (2004), upholding a ruling of the Superior Court granting summary judgment to the defendant. The theory behind the baseball rule is rooted in assumption of risk, an area which remains very much alive in sport. The Baseball Rule does not shield stadium operators for liability in their entirety. A duty does remain to provide protective screening where the risk of immediate and unavoidable danger is at its highest, called the “zone of danger,” not just in baseball, but also in other sports, most notably hockey. A recent law review article by James Kozlowski, Professor at George Mason University discussed this rule in greater detail. The screening behind home plate at a ballpark, the netting behind the boards at a hockey game, and the prohibition of leaving your seat at a hockey game during live play are all examples of the limited duty that the stadium operator owes fans due to the Baseball Rule.

Assumption of risk does not just apply to spectators, but to participants as well. Generally, athletes assume the risk of injury incurred by participating in sports. This is true of being struck by a golf ball on the course, as in Gray v. Giroux, 49 Mass. App. Ct. 436, 730 N.E.2d 338 (2000). Additionally, there are two trial court level rulings, Orth v. Novelli, No. CIV. A. 95-0990-A, 1997 WL 805469 (Mass. Super. Nov. 11, 1997) and Mangone v. Pickering, No. CIV.A. 95-0357, 1997 WL 197232 (Mass. Super. Apr. 14, 1997) which detail the culpability standard for being struck by a golf club. In Orth the standard that must be met is negligence. In Mangone the standard that must be met is recklessness. This split of opinion must be resolved at the appellate level, and presumably will be heard at some point in time. This also applies in a contact sport context. In the case of Gauvin v. Clark, 404 Mass. 450, 450, 537 N.E.2d 94, 95 (1989), a hockey player was not held liable for injuring an opponent by hitting him with the butt end of his stick during a faceoff. The action was in violation of the rules of hockey, but not so egregious as to impose liability.

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Erica Pereira With the recent extreme snowfall in the Northeast, many people have “broken their backs” shoveling and plowing out the streets, driveways, walkways, and stairs to get out of their houses and get to work and school. With the drop in temperatures, that shoveling that we have done could turn our driveways and walkways into a patch of ice, causing a dangerous condition for anyone who comes onto our property. As homeowners in New England we all know of our need to shovel and salt our driveways so our families and friends don’t slip or get injured but sometimes we don’t consider all the other people who come onto our property who also need to be protected.

Under Massachusetts law and specifically the case of Papadopoulos v. Target Corp, 457 Mass.368 (2010) changed the standard of care for snow and ice cases to one of reasonable care. This means that in the event of a snow and ice event, the duty of the homeowner, landowner or premise owner is that they have a duty to take reasonable precautions to protect invited people on their property from unsafe conditions and foreseeable hazards. In other words, if you own a home and it snows, you have a duty to shovel and care for your property (lay down salt or ice melt in the event of ice) in such a way to assure that people who come onto your property will be safe. This could be the mailman, UPS driver, service people, friends or your family. The standard of reasonableness is dependent on each situation and it is your obligation to use good judgment in determining whether your property is safe.

The same standard applies to businesses as well. Businesses are obligated to take reasonable care of their property and premises so that invited business guests and patrons will be protected from unsafe conditions. The general belief is that if it has snowed and your business is open, you better make sure that you have adequately salted your parking lot or walkways and shoveled and plowed the snow so that your guests, patrons and workers will be safe.

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The other night, a Ford commercial ran repeatedly throughout the basketball game.  Within the ad for the Ford Fusion the narrator provides a subliminal message. The language in the add is  “You never know what might be out there. The ambulance racing by, the ambulance chaser chasing the ambulance…. It’s 360 degrees of chaos”.  The reference to the ambulance chaser has nothing to do with the ad for the Ford Fusion. It is simply Ford’s subliminal message that we all/you all/the public should all hate lawyers because we are nothing but ambulance chasers bringing groundless awsuits creating chaos in your world.

http://www.marketmenot.com/ford-fusion-whats-out-there-commercial/

After the game, the news came on. The lead news story was that Ford has recently recalled 1.4 million vehicles in North America. They include  915,000 Ford Escapes and Mercury Marina SUV for the years 2008 through 2011. The problem is with the power steering control module. The defect could turn off the power steering which makes it harder to steer and increase the risk of a crash. Ford has stated that is aware of six injury allegations related to this problem. In addition, Ford has recalled approximately 200,000 Ford Explorers for the years 2011 through 2013 with a problem with the electrical power steering gear. The intermitted electrical connection can cut off power steering and the cause defaults to manual steering which could lead to an accident. A total of 15 accidents have been linked to the problem. Ford has also recalled approximately 200,000 other Ford Taurus Sedans for the years 2010 through 2014 with a license plate lamp plate issue that can lead to a short circuit and potential fire hazzard. Ford is aware of 18 reports of injuries related to that defect. Finally, Ford is aware of approximately 83,000 Ford Fusions, Mercury Milans, Lincoln Zephyrs and MKZs for the years 2006 through 2007 with optional all-weather floor mats that can shift out of position and interfere with the accelerator pedal. Starting in the 2010 model year Ford changed the design adding a second attachment to keep the mat from moving.  All of these recalls were reported in CNN Money [HTTP.//money.cnn.com/2014/05/29/auto/ford-recalls].

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3264313_1In January of this year the First Circuit Court of Appeals decided a Massachusetts case entitled Cracchiolo v. Eastern Fisheries, Inc., et al 740 F 3rd 64. That case involved the death of crew member of a ship that was docked in New Bedford. After a night out, the crew member was returning to the shipyard where the ship was docked. Ordinarily he would go through a gate but that evening it was locked. There was a second unofficial way into the facility. There was a gap in the fence near the water that allowed crew members to access their boats after hours. Even if a crew member came through this passageway there was a safer way once through the fencing to proceed to the boat. It was a longer route. There was a shorter and more dangerous way used on the night in question. It was icy and snowy which made this more dangerous route a fatal choice as the seamen slipped, fell into the water and drowned.

The court said that “to prevail on the negligence claim, a plaintiff must prove that the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of reasonable care, that the defendant breached this duty, that damage resulted, and that there was a casually relationship between the breach and the duty and the damage. The court stated that the question of breach, damages and causation are the “special province of the jury”. However, the question whether or not the defendant owed a duty of care in the first instance is an issue of law, and may be settled on Summary Judgment if the risk posed by the defendant’s actions were not foreseeable”. The court went on to say Massachusetts may also make this determination after trial in light of all the evidence.

In this case the court sited Soederberg v. Concord Greene Condominium 76 Mass.App. Ct. 33 (2010) stating that “landowners do have a duty to remove snow and ice accumulations even though those accumulations present open and obvious hazards to visitors. The court explained that the open and obvious nature of the hazard does not negate an owner’s duty to remedy the hazard”.  Rather a landowner must remedy snow and ice hazards when he can and should anticipate the dangerous condition will cause physical harm to the invitee notwithstanding it is known or an obvious danger. It went on to say “ the plaintiff’s unreasonable decision to enter into an ice hazard could bear on the issue of comparative negligence but that this is a jury question in the plaintiff’s unreasonable behavior will not bar recovery as a matter of law even when other options that voided the ice hazard were available”.

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3264313_1Brian C Dever

508-822-2000

During this wonderful time of the year we need to be concerned about frozen pipes in our homes. More specifically, when frozen pipes do occur, what actions can be taken and what protection does a homeowner need to have.

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By Jason R. Markle

The coming of a new year is often an occasion for people to look at changes they can make to better their lives. People often look at how they can lead healthier lifestyles, save money or improve their relationships. It’s also a good time to look at how protected you are in the case of an accident in which you or someone else is injured. One of the best ways to do that is to take a look at your automobile insurance policy and determine if you have enough coverage. And in looking at your coverage, there’s much more to consider than just price. For example, will your medical bills and lost wages be covered following an accident? What happens if you’re seriously hurt by someone without enough coverage? Who pays for damage to your vehicle as a result of vandalism?

To answer these questions, it’s important to know that the Standard Massachusetts Automobile Policy offers 12 types of insurance. By walking through them individually, hopefully you’ll have a better idea of what’s covered and, more importantly, what’s not covered.

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By: Erica L. Pereira

With the holiday travel season arriving, it is likely that many of us will have to rent a car. When you rent a car you are faced with an important decision; whether you need to pay an additional fee to the rental company at the counter in order to get an additional insurance coverage on your rental car. By asking yourself three questions, you can determine if this expense is necessary for you.

First, determine what sort of coverage your general automotive insurance policy will apply to your rental car use. This will likely cover your liability in the case of an accident, but often this policy will not protect you from having to pay for the rental car itself, if the car is damaged or stolen. Additionally, plans vary as to the amount of coverage they provide for things like loss of use or towing charges.  Also, although your auto insurance generally carries over into the car you are driving (as long as your own car is not being driven at the same time), often renters are misinformed in believing their cars will be covered because they have full coverage on their own automobiles.

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By: Brian Dever

Recently, a Barrington Rhode Island Doctor was arraigned on charges of violating Rhode Island’s social host law by serving alcohol to minors at a party thrown by his teenaged son. While the man denied procuring any of the alcohol for the party, and denied knowing that alcohol was being served at the party, he still may be found guilty of furnishing alcohol to minors and opens himself up to liability if any of the partygoers were to injure himself or herself or others. He also faces disciplinary action from the State Medical Licensing Board, up to and including removal of his license.

The Rhode Island laws are slightly tougher than those in Massachusetts on the issue of social host liability, but only slightly. In Rhode Island, you can be found guilty of serving alcohol to persons under 21 years of age and will be liable for any damage that they cause regardless of whether you furnished the alcohol, allowed the drinking to occur, or knew or should have known about its existence if the drinking party occurred on your property. Massachusetts does not allow for liability if a property owner did not procure the alcohol, did not give permission to use the property, and did not know of the party’s existence.However, whether you are from Rhode Island or Massachusetts, the consequences of violating the social host laws by serving alcohol to minors can be severe. Anyone who is a parent of a teenager can attest that he or she has been asked to allow a party to occur on his or her property. While the first time offender penalty might seem minimal, the real world consequences can be dire. In addition to the $350.00 fine, you will have a criminal record, possibly lose any professional licenses that you may have, and open yourself up to an immense amount of possible liability if any of the party-goers gets into an accident and injures someone.

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By: Barbara M. Callahan, Esq.

Toro, the lawnmower and turf maintenance equipment company, has recalled about 3,700 ride-on, zero turn radius, lawn mowers in the United States and about 60 in Canada due to a fire risk. The company recalled 2,600 lawnmowers in the United States and about 30 in Canada in November of 2012. This recall involves the 2012 and 2013 Toro “Z Master Commercial 2000 Series ZRT” riding mowers. They have distinctive stickers on the front and side of the mowers which say, “Toro,” “2000 Series,” and “Z Master Commercial,” and are recognizable by their red and black paint, the Toro company colors.

The company has recently discovered that the idler pulley can rub against the mower’s fuel tank, posing a fire hazard. There have been 6 reported accidents thus far. Toro is asking that owners of these mowers discontinue their use and contact a Toro dealer to schedule free repairs.Do you own one of these lawnmowers? The mowers in question have been sold at Toro dealers from 2012 to 2013 for about 8,000.00. You can check to see if you own such a mower by looking up the model and serial number of your lawnmower, which is located, if you are sitting in the driver’s seat, on a metal plate on the front, right hand side of the mower. The following model and serial numbers are the affected products:

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