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Most Massachusetts personal injury lawsuits proceed in a back-and-forth fashion reminiscent of a tennis match. The plaintiff serves his or her complaint on the defendant, and then the defendant responds by filing an answer.

The parties then file discovery requests, to which the opposing party files an answer. Motions may be filed, with responses thereto filed by the other side. Eventually, if the case is not settled, a trial is held, with more back-and-forth exchanges between the plaintiff and the defendant.

Sometimes, however, a defendant may not conduct his or herself in the usual manner, potentially leading to a default judgment – a judgment declaring that the plaintiff is entitled to relief because the defendant has failed to file an answer denying the allegations in his or her complaint.

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Dealing with an insurance company while seeking fair compensation for personal injuries or a loved one’s wrongful death can be extremely frustrating, especially for someone who has not yet retained counsel. Even when attorneys are involved, however, the insurance company may still hold tightly to its purse strings, refusing to offer a settlement that the plaintiff and his or her counsel believe is reasonable.

Under Massachusetts wrongful death law, there are consequences for insurance companies that refuse to negotiate claims in good faith, as well as for those that engage in unfair or deceptive acts. However, defining what is or is not good faith in a given situation can be even more contentious that the claim itself.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case, the plaintiff was the administrator of the estate of a woman (his deceased mother) who allegedly perished as a result of the negligence of a certain nursing home. The plaintiff filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the nursing home, and the case proceeded to trial. The jury found in favor of the plaintiff, and the trial court entered judgment upon a multi-million dollar verdict in favor of the plaintiff, finding that the nursing home was liable to the plaintiff for his mother’s wrongful death and her conscious pain and suffering. Continue reading

Under the 4th Amendment to the United States Constitution, police officers are required to obtain a warrant in order to execute a search and seizure of a criminal defendant’s home in most situations. Whether or not an exception exists to this general rule is a frequent issue in a Massachusetts criminal case.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case, police entered a building that contained four apartments. They did not have a warrant but were acting on information supplied by a 9-1-1 caller to the effect that she had seen some men go into the building with a gun. There had been several home invasions in town, although the record did not specify whether those events were in the same neighborhood. While they were conducting “protective sweep” of the building, police officers observed what appeared to be illegal narcotics. After the suspects were arrested in a different part of the building, officers obtained a search warrant for the apartment unit in which the drugs were seen, and the resident thereof was indicted.

Massachusetts medical malpractice law requires that a party who is seeking to assert a claim of negligence against a health care practitioner provide proof of his or her claim before a malpractice review tribunal before his or her case can proceed to a regular court of law.

If the tribunal does not find enough evidence for the case to continue, the plaintiff does have an “out,” in that he or she can post a bond. If this is not economically feasible, the plaintiff also has the option of appealing the tribunal’s decision to the appellate court for further review.

Facts of the Case

In a recent wrongful death case considered by the Massachusetts Appeals Court, the plaintiff was the personal representative of the estate of a 29-year-old woman who died while under the care of the defendant doctors and others. The decedent presented herself at the hospital when she was 38 1/2 weeks pregnant, complaining that she was in labor. She was in good health and had given birth two two children previously. She died at the hospital some 25 hours later.

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Massachusetts product liability cases can cover a multitude of products – from the cars we drive to the toys that amuse our children to the medications that we take to try to be our healthiest selves.

Product injury lawsuits are not easy, and litigation can be lengthy. In many cases, there are a number of obstacles that must be overcome, if the plaintiff is to ultimately receive fair compensation for his or her injuries (or for a loved one’s death).

Facts of the Case

In a recent federal case, the plaintiffs had filed individual lawsuits against the defendant pharmaceutical companies, asserting that the defendants had engaged in “off label” prescription drug marketing and fraud intended to push their antidepressant drugs on minors for whom the Federal Drug Administration had not approved usage. The plaintiffs’ actions were aggregated for pretrial proceedings by order of a multi-district litigation panel.

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When someone loses a loved one due to the negligence of an individual, business, or governmental entity, he or she should consider discussing the possibility of a wrongful death lawsuit with a qualified Massachusetts civil litigation attorney. It is important that this be done in a timely manner in order to comply with the statute of limitations for such claims.

Sometimes, there can be other considerations, as well, such as happened in a recent case involving a woman who allegedly passed away due to a nursing home’s negligence. In that case, the personal representative of the woman’s estate found herself as the defendant in a federal lawsuit brought by the nursing home, which alleged that the woman’s claim had to be arbitrated instead of being brought in the court system.

Facts of the Case

The defendant in a recent federal appellate court case was the daughter and personal representative of the estate of a woman who died in 2013 while in the care of a nursing home owned and operated by the plaintiffs. The defendant, acting as personal representative of her mother’s estate, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against one of the plaintiffs in a Massachusetts state court in 2016. According to the defendant’s state court complaint, she brought suit “on behalf of the heirs of the decedent.”

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In addition to the effective assistance of counsel from a Massachusetts criminal defense attorney, a person who is criminally accused also has the right to a fair and impartial jury in a criminal proceeding. This sounds like an easy enough proposition, but there can be many issues that go into the determination of exactly what constitutes “fair” and “impartial” jurors in a given case.

Facts of the Case

In a recent criminal case considered on direct review by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, the defendant was charged with possession of an illegal substance with intent to distribute. During voir dire, a prospective juror stated that she believed that “the system is rigged” against individuals of the defendant’s general age, gender, and race. That juror was excused for cause by the trial court judge, and the case was tried to a jury that did not include that particular juror.

After being convicted, the defendant sought appellate review of his case, arguing that the trial court judge had abused his discretion in dismissing the prospective juror who had expressed her opinion about the legal system being “rigged.” The supreme judicial court granted an application for direct appellate review.

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Filing a Cape Cod medical malpractice lawsuit is a multi-step process. Unlike other types of negligence cases (such as those stemming from car crashes or slip and fall accidents), a plaintiff must first present his or her proof to a reviewing board. If this tribunal does not find that the plaintiff has presented sufficient evidence so as to warrant a trial, his or her case will be dismissed unless a bond is posted.

However, the tribunal’s decision is reviewable by the courts, and sometimes such the tribunal’s decision is reversed on appeal.

Facts of the Case

In a recent (unreported) Massachusetts Appeals Court case, the plaintiff was the personal representative of the estate of a man who allegedly died due to the negligence of the defendants, two hospitals and several doctors. The plaintiff presented her case to a medical malpractice tribunal, which ruled that there was not enough evidence to raise a legitimate issue of liability as to four of the physicians or as to one of the hospitals. The plaintiff did not post the bond required under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 231, § 60B, and thus the trial court dismissed her case as to those defendants. She appealed.

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Being involved in a Massachusetts automobile accident can be difficult enough, on its own. Damage to one’s automobile, pain and suffering from physical injuries, and time off of work while recuperating are all common problems for those who are hurt due to others’ negligence behind the wheel.

Unfortunately, the accident itself may be only the beginning of an extended period of difficulty for those involved in a crash. Dealing with insurance companies about personal injury protection, property damage claims, and other issues can be extremely difficult and time-consuming, especially for those who are not represented by an attorney.

Facts of the Case

In a recent (unreported) appellate court case, the plaintiff was a medical services provider who filed suit against the defendant insurance company, seeking to recover personal injury protection (PIP) benefits on behalf of a patient who was involved in an automobile accident in 2011. The defendant filed an answer to the plaintiff’s complaint, asserting the affirmative defense of noncooperation.

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Construction site accidents are common in Cape Cod and elsewhere in Massachusetts. Unfortunately, legal claims arising from these types of on-the-job injuries can be more difficult to pursue than more traditional workers’ compensation cases.

One reason for this is that those in the construction industry may be injured by someone other than his or her direct employer. A particular individual might also be working as an independent contractor. In such a situation, workers’ compensation may not be available, and the injured person’s only remedy may be to filed a negligence suit against the person or company who he or she believes caused the accident.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case, the plaintiff was construction worker who was severely injured when a porch roof where he was working collapsed and caused him to fall about 12 feet to the ground. The plaintiff filed a negligence lawsuit against the defendants, a contractor on the construction project, a trustee (the property where the accident happened was apparently owned by a trust rather than by an individual or corporation), and the person responsible for the maintenance of the property, seeking payment for his medical expenses of approximately $1.3 million, along with other damages resulting from the fall.

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